Thanks in significant part to the play of defender Nestor Araujo (white jersey), Mexico was able to shutout host Trinidad & Tobago in a World Cup qualifier on March 28, 2017, in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago. (Photo: John Bacon/Straffon Images)
MIAMI – With the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup nearing the midway point, CONCACAF.com tips its cap to the standout performers of matchday four.
Nestor Araujo (Mexico)
Mexico posted its third-consecutive clean sheet in qualifying with a 1-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago. Defender Nestor Araujo continued to play a significant role during the impressive run of defensive form. His work in the first half was particularly significant, keeping powerful T&T forward Kenwyne Jones under wraps, while his side-to-side movement was key in limiting the host’s ability to attack from the wings.
Gabriel Gomez (Panama)
Once again, Gabriel Gomez proved to be a thorn in the USA’s side. His penalty kick gave Panama a 2-1 win over the Americans in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup, the five-time champion’s only group-stage loss in the competition. On Tuesday, four minutes after Clint Dempsey gave the U.S. a 1-0 lead in the 39th minute, the 32-year-old Gomez pounced on a loose ball in the box and beat goalkeeper Tim Howard from five-yards out for the equalizer. The match ended 1-1 and Panama earned a point against a team it has never beaten in WCQ play.
Tim Howard (USA)
Two huge saves by Tim Howard helped to secure a 1-1 draw for the United States at Panama. In the 33rd minute, he did well to block a vicious effort off the foot of an enterprising Alberto Quintero from 10-yards out. Then, with the match even at 1-1 in the 59th minute, the 38-year-old Colorado Rapids star charged off his line to thwart Luis Tejada at the edge of the six-yard box.
Kendall Waston (Costa Rica)
Costa Rica can thank Kendall Waston for obtaining a valuable 1-1 draw at Honduras. The 29-year-old defender blocked off the line an effort by Honduras’ Alberth Elis in 12th minute. With the Ticos down 1-0 in the 68th minute, Waston headed in a left-sided by Vancouver Whitecaps FC colleague Christian Bolaños from six-yards out.