Raul Lopez (white jersey) celebrates after scoring Mexico's only goal in a 1-0 win over Haiti in the CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying Championship match on October 4, 2015, in Carson, California. (Photo: Mexsport)
CARSON, California – Mexico (2W-0D-0L, 6 points) earned a place in the 2015 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship semifinals with a 1-0 win over Haiti (0W-0D-2L, 0 points) at the StubHub Center on Sunday.
The result also paved the way for Honduras (2W-0D-0L, 6 points), which defeated Costa Rica (0W-0D-2L, 0 points) 2-0 earlier in the day, to advance to the final four.
In a rematch of the 2012 final, Honduras and defending champion Mexico will square off for the top spot in Group B on Wednesday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado. Costa Rica and Haiti have been eliminated, but face each other the same day in a last opportunity for one or both of them to capture a point.
Raul Lopez scored the game’s only goal in the 74th minute, converting a penalty kick after Severe Verilus tripped Erick Gutierrez in the box.
Losses to Mexico and Honduras by the same 1-0 score were bitterly disappointing to a Haitian side that won the Caribbean title, but competed in California without star forward Duckens Nazon, who missed the tournament after being named in the initial 20-man roster. The 21-year-old forward scored twice in this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, before netting in both legs of a World Cup Qualifying series against Grenada.
Haiti goalkeeper Luis Valendi Odelus was called upon to make a pair of outstanding saves in the loss. He stretched diagonally towards the upper left corner of the goal to thwart Marco Bueno in the ninth minute. Then, eight minutes into the second half, the 20-year-old did well to parry away Hedgardo Marin’s header for a corner kick.
Honduras will be making a fifth straight appearance in the competition’s semifinals, while Mexico is progressing for the second consecutive time.