Mexico's Erick Torres (black jersey) goes to celebrate after scoring against Honduras in the CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying Championship on October 7, 2015, in Commerce City, Colorado. (Photo: Mexsport)
COMMERCE CITY, Colorado – Mexico earned a 2-1 win over 10-man Honduras on Thursday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park to capture first place in Group B at the 2015 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship (CMOQ).
The result established the pairings for Saturday’s semifinals in Sandy, Utah, with Mexico taking on Canada and Honduras squaring off against the United States. The winners will advance to the final and qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, while the losers will meet for third place and a chance to face Colombia in a playoff for another berth.
Both of the Tricolor’s goals came after Allans Vargas was shown a red card in just the second minute of play.
On the subsequent free kick from 20-yards out, Raul Lopez bounced a right-footed shot underneath the jumping wall and into the right side of the net for his second goal of the tournament.
Lopez nearly struck again in the 22nd minute, but his attempt crashed off the crossbar.
Despite the man disadvantage, Honduras leveled in the 59th minute off a lightning quick counterattack. Oscar Salas delivered a perfect through ball directly into the path of a sprinting Alberth Elis, who got into the right side of the box and beat goalkeeper Gibran Lajud from five-yards out with an effort that settled into the far-side netting
Five minutes later, Mexico regained the lead for good. Victor Guzman found an unmarked Erick Torres in the middle of the box with a cross from the right. The Houston Dynamo forward had time to settle the ball near the penalty spot and drill it with his right foot past goalkeeper Harold Fonseca.
The win was the defending champion’s ninth straight in the competition.