Osorio and Sanchez Strike Amid Slurs As Mexico and Canada Battle To Draw
Canada’s biggest away trip of the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers saw Les Rouges battle to a 1-1 draw with Mexico at the legendary Estadio Azteca, though the night was marred by homophobic slurs forcing a stoppage in the game.
The Canadian visitors entered the match without the likes of Milan Borjan, Atiba Hutchinson, Cyle Larin, and Junior Hoilett, so it’s no small feat that Canada had the better of the chances throughout the first half.
The second half saw a shift in momentum following a halt in play for homophobic slurs being chanted en masse by the crowd, with both sides ultimately sharing a point at the final whistle after some back-and-forth action.
A lone goal from Jonathan Osorio was enough to cancel out an early lead from Jorge Sanchez in a match that could have seen a more goals come forth for either side.
The travelling Canadian squad nearly broke through prior to the fifteen minute mark, with Davies tearing down the left and probing inwards before sending a return ball to Richie Laryea, with the full-back firing a cannon that could only be palmed away by Ochoa. While Tajon Buchanon got an opportunity to launch a one-touch shot from the rebound, his effort went well high.
While Mexico seemed content to keep players behind the ball, there were early warning signs as Lozano found space from Johnston on a counter-attack before firing wide. The Napoli man would play a big role in opening the scoring minutes later, sending in a deft aerial ball to Jorge Sanchez, who took a touch to break away on the inside of Laryea before firing a left-footed shot beyond Maxime Crepeau:
Now 1-0 down at The Azteca, John Herdman’s side faced a real character test but responded well throughout the first half to play some ‘total football’, as described by Terry Dunfield. Les Rouges should have equalized in the thirtieth after Buchanan forth a heavy touch on the right flank to outrace two defenders and cross in a low ball that Davies fired wide from close range.
Three minutes later, Jonathan Osorio gained possession near the Mexico box following an unforced error, turning to play in Buchanon on the same right flank – though his shot deflected out for a corner. Davies and Laryea nearly combined not long after, with Stephen Eustaquio also floating in a wonderfully constructed freekick to the big figure of Steven Vitoria, who’s header bounced off the ground from a foot out with Ochoa palming it away.
Canada would strike blood three minutes before half time, however, with Davies supplying a peach of a through ball for Osorio to fire home an audience-quieting equalizer – and it wasn’t his first goal at the Azteca, either.
With the scores now level at 1-1, the half-time whistle drew jeers from a home crowd who weren’t happy to see El Tri level with a visiting Canadian side at the 45 minute mark.
Crepeau had a nervous moment early into the second half, with the goalkeeper collecting the ball before nearly throwing it into the back of a Mexican forward before the duo both went down entangled. The referee opted for a freekick to Canada, though it wasn’t a pretty moment of the match.
Things continued to heat up moments later, with both sides coming together following an altercation between Jesus Corona and Richie Laryea that saw both players collect yellow, with Laryea now set to miss the next match against Jamaica as a result.
With homophobic slurs echoing throughout the stadium, the referee was forced to call a short halt to proceedings in the 59th minute. The Mexican national team has had repeat troubles with this, with Mexico having seen a two match crowd ban turned into one after FIFA remained committedly spineless in stamping down on systemic issues like this in a conducive manner.
Canada came near-disaster after Alistair Johnston saw an unconfidently headed clearance strike his own crossbar, with Steven Vitoria being fouled as he rushed in to reach the ball first. The momentum in the second half had, it seemed, firmly switched in Mexico’s favour following the break in play.
El Tri would then score in the 66th minute, with Raul Jiminez fouling Vitoria en route to fire home a well-struck cross which was called back given the foul. Two minutes later, a yellow to Buchanan would mean the new Club Brugge signing will miss the match against Jamaica.
Sensing tired legs amid the high altitude of Mexico City, Herdman would make a trip substitution fifteen minutes from time that would see Sam Adekugbe, Liam Millar, and Liam Fraser join the action.
The change saw Fraser involved in the action immediately, with Canada latching onto three quick counters that nearly saw the substitute midfielder score from close range.
Les Rouges then had a golden opportunity ten minutes from time, catching Mexico on the break but seeing Davies play an awkward ball in that Jonathan David put too heavy a touch on to procure any last-gasp magic. Despite some late chances for either team, no more goals would come.
At the final whistle, Mexico and Canada were confirmed to be picking up a point apiece as the Canadians remain undefeated in the third and final round of Concacaf World Cup Qualifying.
We’re going to take that point, but we know that we could have played better in the second half and we should have taken three points today.Jonathan Osorio
The team now has one win and three draws from its opening four matches, and will be leaving happy to have collected a point at the Azteca.
Less happy, of course, will be fans who could have foreseen a return of homophobic chants after FIFA minimized its sanction to Mexico. The road to the World Cup, it seems, will continue to be marred with both homophobia and literal slaves.
Canada will now play away to Jamaica on Sunday before enjoying a home match at BMO Field against Panama next week to close out this month’s World Cup qualifying action.
November will then see Les Rouges play Mexico once more, with Canada set to host both El Tri and Costa Rica in Edmonton.
Photo Credit: Canada Soccer