Mexico and USA leave it late to qualify for Nations League finals in Las Vegas

March 28 – Mexico and the USA are both through to the Concacaf Nations League finals to be played in Las Vegas in June, but both nations left it to the last match of the group games to qualify.

The Concacaf Nations League has seen all four groups in League A go down to the wire. The two remaining teams left to qualify will be between Panama and Costa Rica in Group B and Canada and Honduras in Group C.

Panama are a point ahead of Costa Rica and will go through with a draw. Canada and Honduras are level on points but the Canadians have a better goal difference so Honduras must win to qualify.

Going into the final two rounds of the Nations League, none of Concacaf’s four World Cup representatives – Mexico, USA, Canada or Costa Rica – were topping their groups. Now all four could fill the slots in the Las Vegas finals, but it has been a tight run race.

Mexico only just squeezed past Jamaica to top their group, drawing with the Reggae Boyz 2-2 in the final group game, but they had to come from behind twice to win the point needed to qualify.

Bobby De Cordova-Reid opened the scoring in the 8th minute for Jamaica before Orbelín Pineda levelled on 17 minutes. Jamaica were ahead again 16 minutes later when a ball from De Cordova-Reid bounced off the left thigh of Edson Álvarez for an own goal.

It took a penalty in the first minute of injury time by Hirving Lozano to draw the teams level again and ultimately put the Mexicans through.

USA stumble their way to Vegas

Ricardo Pepi (pictured left) was the saviour for the US, coming off the bench in the second half against El Salvador to score with his first touch for the only goal of the game against El Salvador, and secure the US top spot in the group.

The US had gone into the game needing just a point to qualify, having demolished Grenada 7-1 in their tie three days earlier, a game in which Pepi scored twice.

Not intent on leaving qualification for the finals to chance, the US had pulled in all their big guns from Europe and Grenada felt the full blast, with goals from Christian Pulisic and two from Weston Mckennie making the point.

El Salvador presented a different challenge in Orlando but ultimately it wasn’t enough to stop the reigning Nations League champions from reaching the finals to defend their title.

One point of note was that the US team saw the return of a re-invigorated Gio Reyna after the post-World Cup debacle that led to the suspension of coach Gregg Berhalter. Berhalter is still in the running to be back in charge of the US team for the finals in Las Vegas.

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