That’s what you call a running start.
The final round of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in the CONCACAF region, also known as the Hex, kicked off on Friday – and it couldn’t have gone much better for the Vancouver Whitecaps FC trio of Christian Bolaños, Kendall Waston, and Blas Perez.
All three players went the full 90 for their respective nations.
Bolaños led the way with a goal and an assist for Costa Rica in a 2-0 road win at Trinidad & Tobago (see highlights below). The 32-year-old now has three goals in his last two international matches, after bagging a brace in Costa Rica’s previous World Cup qualifier.
Waston also played a lead role, helping the Ticos keep a clean sheet against a Trinidad & Tobago side that featured former English Premier League striker Kenwyne Jones, who is set to join MLS expansion side Atlanta United FC in 2017.
Perez, meanwhile, helped Panama come away with a hard-fought 1-0 road win at Honduras.
Costa Rica, Panama, and Mexico, who beat the U.S. 2-1 in Columbus, now sit atop the Hex standings after the first day of matches. The second set of matches will take place on Tuesday.
The Hex runs until October 2017, with each team playing a total of 10 matches. The top three teams will clinch an automatic berth to the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and the fourth-place finisher will face the fifth-place nation from Asia in an inter-confederation playoff.