The Canadian Under-17 national team is now just one game away from qualifying for their second straight FIFA U-17 World Cup after clinching Group B at the CONCACAF U-17 Championship with a 1-1 draw with Costa Rica on Wednesday in La Chorrera, Panama. Canada's starting XI included five members of Whitecaps FC Residency program - keeper and captain Marco Carducci, centre back Alexander Comsia, midfielders Marco Bustos and Jordan Haynes, as well as striker Matthew Chow.
Just about everything was in Canada's favor as they would have won the group with a win, draw or even a one-goal loss after their opening win over Trinidad and Tobago last weekend, but after a scoreless first half, Arrington Alexander got the Costa Ricans on the board first. But FC Edmonton striker Hanson Boakai scored to level the game with less than 15 minutes left to give the young Canucks the draw.
Canada next will face Jamaica, the runners-up of Group A, in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
Costa Rica’s goal in the 59th minute exploited a breakdown in the center of the Canadian defense as Torres was played through the middle with a ball over the top. Keeper Carducci tried to cut off the angle by racing off his line, but Torres calmly chipped the Canadian goalkeeper with the inside of his right foot.
Boakai calmed the nerves and assured Canada’s passage in the 77th minute when he cut in from the right side and unleashed a left-footed curling shot that struck the post to the left of Costa Rican goalkeeper Grosny Salazar and went in. Salazar was at full dive but couldn’t get the diminutive FC Edmonton man’s fiercely taken shot.
It wasn’t all good news, though, as right on the verge of full time, Marco Dominguez picked up his second yellow card of the competition, which means he’ll be suspended for Saturday's quarterfinal game. All four semifinalists at the CONCACAF tournament will qualify for this fall's U-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.