But after beating El Salvador 2-0 in their opener, their attack stalled in a 0-0 draw with Haiti on Monday. The young Canadians dominated possession in the first half but lost their way in the second half as the Haitians came to life.
Canada (1-0-1) needed a strong second-period performance from goalie James Pantemis, who didn’t have to make a save in the first 45 minutes.
“In the first half we were able to control the pace of the game. We created some good opportunities, “said Canada coach Mauro Biello.” We didn’t try our luck in the first half.
“In the second half, we were a little too loose and at different times they surprised us in transition… We had to be closer, better. ”
El Salvador (0-1-1) did Canada a favor later Monday, rallying to a 1-1 draw against Honduras (1-0-1).
Canada will face Honduras on Thursday, with the winner taking first place in Group B. A tie would send both teams to the semi-finals.
While the two teams are currently both four-pointers, Honduras has the advantage over Canada in goal difference (plus-three versus plus-two).
The CONCACAF eight-country tournament, originally scheduled for March but postponed due to the pandemic, will determine which two teams will represent North and Central America and the Caribbean at the Tokyo Olympics this summer.
The top two from each group advance to the semi-finals, crossing over with No.1 playing No.2 in the other group and vice versa. The winners of the semi-finals reserve their ticket to Tokyo.
The United States and Mexico both improved to 2-0-0 with wins on Sunday in Group A, securing their qualification for the semi-finals. The two meet on Wednesday to decide who heads the group.
Honduras, who shut out Haiti 3-0 in their opener, have reached the last two Olympics. Canadian men have not competed since the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.
The Hondurans (1-0-0) faced El Salvador (0-1-0) late in the game on Monday.
“We’re down to four points right now,” said Biello. “Of course we might be disappointed not to take the three (points), but at the same time we have to learn and keep growing from here. ”
The Canadians squeezed as the clock ticked and had several set pieces, but failed to take advantage of it. Haitian goalkeeper Alan Jerome made a stoppage of play with his foot on substitute Ballou Tabla on a Canadian counterattack triggered by fast winger Tajon Buchanan in the stoppage time.
It was 30 degrees Celsius for kickoff at 4 p.m. local time in an empty Estado Akron, which hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2011 Pan Am Games.
Haiti (0-1-1) showed their hand early, often stacking 11 men behind the ball in their own half in a defensive block. The Canadians wrote the Haitians on their side early and Jerome used his body to keep Buchanan from closing in in the 13th minute after a strong lead from full back Zachary Brault-Guillard.
Haiti offered little the few times it has ventured into Canadian territory with the ball.
The header of Canadian captain Derek Cornelius on a corner was missed in the 30th minute, his goal undoubtedly hampered by the Haitian defender who was holding a handle of his jersey.
Canada began looking to put balls behind the Haitian defense, with a pair of attacks denied by the offside flag late in the first half. At the other end, Pantemis didn’t have to make a stop in the first 45 minutes.
A Buchanan free kick from a dangerous position just outside the penalty box went high in the 49th minute.
Haiti saw a brief offensive surge and Pantemis, eventually called into action, had to be quick to deny Dutherson Clerveaux in the 56th minute.
Jérôme stopped Buchanan’s header in the 62nd minute with a dangerous free kick from Michael Baldisimo. At the other end, Pantemis was almost taken aback by Eliader Dorlus’ deflected shot from long range.
Haiti came close in the 71st minute after a bad defensive touch but the shot went straight to Pantemis. The Canadian goalie made his best save of the game a minute later to stop Clerveaux’s diving header.
Buchanan scored both goals in Friday’s win over El Salvador.
Haiti had a more chaotic start to the tournament in a 3-0 loss to Honduras on the same day. He was forced to start with just 10 men on the pitch, including a fielder in goal after part of his delegation arrived in Guadalajara late, delaying some COVID-19 protocols. The team were able to regain their strength in the second half after the tests came back negative.
Haiti had only five players on its bench on Monday, with no substitute goalkeepers.
Biello made two changes to his starting lineup with David Norman Jr. and Theo Bair for Callum Montgomery and Tabla. Montgomery was injured in the opener against El Salvador and was replaced by Norman at half-time.
The tournament is open to players born after January 1, 1997. Teams that qualify for the Olympics can field up to three older players.
CONCACAF reported ahead of Monday’s game that two members of its official pool had tested positive for COVID-19 and were self-isolating. Costa Rica’s Juan Gabriel Calderon took charge of Canada’s game.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on March 22, 2021