Raul Lopez (white jersey #8) scored the only goal in Mexico's CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying Championship win over Haiti on October 4, 2015, in Carson, California. (Photo: Mexsport)
CARSON, California -- Shots sailed over the crossbar. Some went wide, while others ricocheted off defenders or were stopped by the goalkeeper in spectacular fashion. Mexico couldn’t find a way to score against Haiti on Sunday night in the CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship.
It took a second half penalty for the Tricolor to beat the Caribbean king, 1-0, at the StubHub Center. Raul Lopez netted from the spot in the 74th minute, guaranteeing the defending champion a semifinal berth.
Mexico head coach Raul Gutierrez anticipated Haiti would play defensively. However, he didn’t expect his team to miss clear scoring opportunities.
“The game went the way we planned it, but the only thing that changed was that we couldn’t score,” Gutierrez said. “This was a (Haiti) team that competed physically and made the game tough. It made us run a lot. Our idea was to win, so we get out of here happy with the three points.”
Part of Mexico’s plan was to rest some players against Haiti. Personnel adjustments became necessary as long as the game remained scoreless. Erick Guiterrez, Hirving Lozano and Lopez were each brought on in the second half. It was Gutierrez’s burst in the Haitian box that caused the penalty, which Lopez converted.
Despite not netting from the regular flow of play against a young Haitian side, Gutierrez is not worried about his team’s performance. He doesn’t expect Honduras, the next opponent on Wednesday, to be as cautious.
Lozano, who looked dangerous Sunday, echoed Gutierrez’s sentiment.
“It’s a bit frustrating because it’s hard to score against 11 guys playing on their side of the field,” the Pachuca standout remarked. “We have to keep working and do things right, so we don’t have those wide shots and have opportunities blocked.”