Mexico tops Canada, will defend Olympic crown

(l-r) Victor Guzman, Gibran Lajud and Carlos Salcedo leave the field after Mexico defeated Canada in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying Championship on October 10, 2015, in Sandy, Utah. (Photo: Mexsport)

SANDY, Utah – Mexico earned the opportunity to defend its Olympic title next year thanks to a 2-0 win over Canada in the CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship on Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Before it makes the trip to Rio de Janeiro, however, the Tricolor will look to repeat as CONCACAF champion, facing Honduras in Tuesday’s final at the same venue. The Hondurans defeated the United States earlier in the day, 2-0, on a pair of goals by Alberth Elis to secure a third straight Olympic appearance.

The Americans will square off against Canada in the match for third place, also on Tuesday, with the winner advancing to a playoff against Colombia for another berth.

Erick Torres gave Mexico a 1-0 lead in just the sixth minute of play. Hirving Lozano delivered a right-footed cross from the left side to the edge of the six-yard box, where Torres nodded simply past Canada goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau for his third goal of the tournament.

The influential Lozano doubled the advantage in the 57th minute with a wicked right-footed attempt that cruised through a trio of Canadian defenders and into the left-side netting from 14-yards out.

Canada was given a lifeline in the 80th minute, when Jackson Farmer’s left-sided cross was handled in the area by Erick Aguirre. Referee Hugo Cruz pointed to the spot, but Michael Petrasso – who scored in each of the Canadians’ three group games – had his penalty kick saved by goalkeeper Gibran Lajud. Jay Chapman raced in for the rebound, only to shoot directly at the quick-reacting custodian.

Skylar Thomas nearly halved the deficit in the 87th minute, only to see his header hit off the crossbar.

Mexico extended its winning streak in the competition to 10 games.