Canada will have to settle for second place in Group A following their scoreless draw with Honduras at Toyota Stadium on Friday night.
“If we keep doing what we’re doing, we’re really on to something,” said Canadian coach Octavio Zambrano. “What that is, I don’t know yet but I’m willing to bet for something, whether it’s El Salvador, or Jamaica.”
Honduras went agonizingly close off a Carlos Sanchez corner in the 44th minute swinging in perfectly for Alberth Elis. That allowed the Houston Dynamo man to get a header away at goal, seemingly destined for the net but was denied by Michael Petrasso to get a strong clearance off the line.
Honduras was again denied by a clearance off the line in the 85th minute when Milan Bojan spilled the ball on a cross. That saw the ball fall to Oscar Boniek Garcia who got a half volley away but Steven Vitoria was able to block the shot to keep it scoreless.
Canada went agonizingly close with just two minutes to play as a poor clearance from Honduras fell to Marcel de Jong. De Jong steadied himself and got a powerfully volley away but it went agonizingly over the bar.
Both teams needed a result which created a firey atmosphere to the match and lead a tight opening moments of the match. There were few chances in the opening 20 minutes as the two sides looked to feel each other out, waiting for a mistake.
Canada was becoming the stronger side, the more the half wore on, as they started to have more meaningful attacks. Despite that the Honduras defense was strong and kept the Canadians out, in a match they needed at least a point to advance.
Both teams were guilty of wasteful finishing in the first half, with Honduras often taking advantage of counter attacks when Canada looked vulnerable. But for all that running they would too often lift the shot over the bar.
In the 36th minute Ovido Lanza went down in the box, under Canadian pressure but the referee waved away the penalty shout. Replays suggest that decision was correct with Lanza going down easily and there being no contact.
Canada started the second half brightly, needing two goals to top the group but they just could not break down the Honduran defense. Despite that the attacks kept coming, as Canada huffed and puffed looking to blow the Honduran house down.
After the hour mark Canada appeared to give up, with Honduras really having all of the possession in the match. The chances game but the Hondurans just couldn’t take their chances, even when Canada handed it to them in the 70th minute. Jonathan Osorio attempted to clear the ball but right to Elis who somehow managed to miss the ball, allowing Canada to clear and get off the hook.
Osorio atoned for that error in the 73rd minute when the Honduras defense backed off of him, allowing for a shot. Osorio hit it powerfully and forced Luis Lopez to leap up and make a save at full stretch.
As the clock ticked over to stoppage time a chance came to Garcia off of a set piece which swung in to the veteran perfectly. Garcia got a header away but he was denied by a phenomenal Borjan save to keep it scoreless.
Canada will now play the winner of Jamaica v El Salvador in San Antonio on Sunday while El Salvador will have to wait for results, if Martinique lose to Panama on Saturday, El Salvador will advance.
“We don’t have a preference, I think we have to take it one game at a time, both teams, we know well, because we have scouted them,” said Zambrano. “We need to calm down a little bit, and we need to have our celebration