This was the liveblog for the second round of the Hexagonal. It was definitely an eventful evening.
Honduras 2-2 Mexico FT
Jamaica 1-1 Panama FT
USA 1-0 Costa Rica FT
Commentary after the jump.
Well that's it for this round of the Hexagonal. From steamy conditions in Central America to a mini-blizzard in Colorado, today's matches showed the variety of playing conditions in CONCACAF. Once again there was just one positive result in this round -- is this shaping up to be the most competitive Hexagonal since 20021998? Next Tuesday's matches will hold the key.
0007: FULL TIME USA 1-0 Costa Rica
Clint Dempsey's goal was the difference between the two sides in a hard-fought and passionate qualifier. An early whistle, but I think both teams will be tired of playing in this weather. But this night will live long in the memory of US soccer fans. "Tres puntos de nieve", according to a couple of tweets.
0006: Costa Rican legend Paulo Wanchope, now on the coaching staff, is standing out in the technical area.
0004: US chance... cross on the right, Gómez tries to latch onto it but he can't beat Navas. Into stoppage time.
0002: Looks like the ref will add five minutes.
0002: A tweet:
0000: Blocked by the wall, and the US defenders clear away.
2359: Cameron concedes another foul just outside his own penalty area. Dangerous chance for Costa Rica.
2357: Gripping gripping game.
2353: Ten minutes to go. Both teams are scrapping for every possession.
2348: Brad Guzan is coming up huge in the US penalty area.
2343: The intensity of the match has picked up since the stoppage to clear the lines. Costa Rica can very much win this.
2341: Another warning from Costa Rica: confusion in the box and an fantastic cross by Michael Umaña is in the back of the net...only to be disallowed for offside.
2340: You know, lesser referees would have sent off Jermaine Jones for the elbow on Ruíz.
2336: US players need to stop the grabbing in the penalty area. The fourth time that a free kick into the Costa Rican box has been whistled dead due to a foul there.
2334: Sideline reporter on Univision said that USA-Costa Rica will go the full 90. The Costa Ricans will have to deal with it, but I wonder if they'll file a protest to FIFA.
2329: FULL TIME Jamaica 1-1 Panama
Two points dropped by either side means that the winner of USA-Costa Rica (if there is one) will move into second place (or share first if Costa Rica wins tonight).
2328: Looks like they stopped the match long enough to allow the lines to be cleared again. I think they'll be doing that a couple more times before this match is over. Game continues.
2326: Is the referee stopping the match in Denver? Appears that Costa Rica is appealing for the game to be suspended!
2325: Three minutes of stoppage time in Kingston.
2324: Free kick to Costa Rica outside the area, deflected over for a corner. It reaches Saborío who strikes for goal and it's blocked away for another corner. Panic stations for US...
2322: Panama's stroking the ball around midfield with little Jamaican pressure. Are they really content to leave with a point?
2317: Off and running in the second half. Still snowing very hard; those lines are going to disappear in 15 minutes.
2314: Trying to watch the Jamaica-Panama match. La Roja look a lot closer to getting a winner than the Reggae Boyz.
2300: HALFTIME USA 1-0 Costa Rica
Clint Dempsey's goal is the difference between the two sides in a hard-fought qualifier in very snowy suburban Denver. The snow doesn't look like letting up and will play a factor in the second half.
2258: GOAL Jamaica 1-1 Panama 64'
Luís Henríquez levels things for Panama with a long-range strike that Donovan Ricketts can't keep out of his net.
2257: Clearest chance of the first half for Costa Rica as Bryan Ruíz strikes from top of the box, but it's deflected behind for a corner. Very nice play that caught the US defensive line off guard.
2253: US appeal for a penalty on an altercation involving Dempsey, but it's not given. Wasn't a penalty and Dempsey might have dove. Another shot and scramble lead to a corner but nothing comes of it.
2252: Costa Rica's now coming down both flanks strongly. Gamboa's cross on the left was saved by Guzan, but that's a warning.
2249: Another good chance for Costa Rica as Bolaños is free on the left, but shoots at Guzan. Why didn't he cross to an even more open Ruíz? (I think it was Ruíz coming up the center)
2242: Meanwhile in much warmer conditions, Jamaica and Panama start the second half.
2238: I've been impressed by Guzan, he has grown tremendously since the last qualifying cycle.
Someone's playing "Winter Wonderland" on his trumpet. Nice touch. And it's spring.
2238: Play restarts, and another great chance to Costa Rica. Saborío forces a very good save by Guzan.
2235: It's snowing much harder now. Almost certain that the ref will stop the game to clear the lines.
2233: Nice counter by Costa Rica and Bolaños can't get over the ball in time. Guzan collects.
2227: GOAL USA 1-0 Costa Rica 16'
Right after Clint Dempsey tries his luck from afar, he scores from up close almost immediately. Ball finds its way to Altidore who shoots from the center of the pitch, the ball is deflected but Dempsey is there on the far post to slot the ball past Navas.
2225: HALFTIME Jamaica 1-0 Panama
Jamaica lead thanks to a headed goal by Marvin Elliott. They're 45 minutes away from joining Honduras at the top of the Hexagonal table.
2224: Odd to see a Jamaican substitution in first half stoppage time. I'll go look for the reason.
2222: Beasley took a knock to the head and went off, but he's back. The US can't afford to lose him in this game.
2218: Panama just missed a grand opportunity to equalize...
2217: The wind is also going to be a factor. And with the driving snow I wonder if they'll stop the game to clear the markings.
2211: Very snowy field at a packed DSG Park. And you know what that means...YELLOW BALL TIME !! Ohhh yeah!
2208: But now it's time for USA vs Costa Rica. Judging from my Twitter feed, they're playing the anthems.
2202: Panama respond quickly, and Ricketts has to make a strong save to prevent an equalizer. Corner to Panama.
2200: GOAL Jamaica 1-0 Panama 23'
On Jamaica's first real effort on goal, Marvin Elliott met Philips' cross with a powerful header. A maiden goal in three appearances for the Bristol City midfielder.
2153: And...we're back!
Jamaica and Panama started about 15 minutes ago in Kingston, and it's 0-0. Curious event as Jermaine Beckford had to change his shirt for some reason, but he left the field without getting the referee's permission and got a yellow card for his trouble.
USA and Costa Rica kick off in about fifteen minutes. I haven't turned on the TV yet but I've been seeing reports of snow showers in the Denver area. Orange ball time??
Amazing that we will have today's qualifiers in temperatures ranging from 40 degrees Celsius to almost zero or below zero. Only in CONCACAF. (And Asia.)
1934: I haven't decided whether to stay in to watch the qualifiers or go out to Sidebar downtown to watch the match. I'll figure out what to do later.
1923: More stuff from the Twittertubes:
How the hell did Mexico blow a 2 goal lead... #WCQ— David Ako III ⚽❤ (@davidabunaw) March 22, 2013
What a match! Honduras comes back to tie Mexico 2-2. Mexico lost control of this one after the Gio-Chich sub. #WCQ— El Jaimito(@Jaime_Damian) March 22, 2013
1920: And in case you haven't found out already, New Zealand beat New Caledonia 2-1 on a stoppage time goal early this morning (US East Coast time) and they will play the fourth-placed team from the Hexagonal in the Intercontinental Playoff. I know there was little doubt, but now they've made sure.
1917: More from another New Englander:
2-2 Honduras and so much for that Mexico defense holding up. Momentum change. #WCQ— Taylor Twellman (@TaylorTwellman) March 22, 2013
1913: Watching the reaction on Fútbol Picante to the qualifier. Would be nice if everyone wasn't talking over each other. Combination of fatigue and poor subs by Chepo de la Torre in the opinion of the pundits.
1909: Rapid reaction from the New England Revolution president:
Congrats to Jerry for bagging another goal today on the way to a 2-2 draw against Mexico.— Brian Bilello (@RevsPrez) March 22, 2013
Carlo Costly didn't have a consistent game, but in 120 seconds he changed the complexion of the game. First a header to put Honduras back into it, then a strong run to draw the penalty that ultimately equalized the match. Mexico would probably have been very happy to leave SPS with a point if you told them before kickoff that they'd do so, but they have to be very angry over how the match transpired. They'll go into the clásico against the USA without Francisco Rodríguez, while Honduras go to Panama with four points from the Big Two in the region. What an intense qualifier!
1901: FULL TIME Honduras 2-2 Mexico
1900: How did Mexico not win the game?? They stole the ball inside the Honduran half and it was 3-on-2 as the ball came to Guardado, but he took wayyyy too long to shoot. And was there a penalty on that final tackle?? Sure looked like it.
1859: There's a Honduran player down on the ground but Mexico's #7 kept the ball in play as he moved into the Honduran half. The bench is not at all happy about that.
1859: Two minutes to go...
1858: Now into stoppage time of this intense game.
1855: Maza Rodríguez takes down Costly hard near the touchline, and he sees yellow. He will not play against the USA next week.
1854: Rapid rapid restart by Valladares, but it's too fast for the referee's liking as another sub comes on.
1853: At the other end, Valladares collides with Omar Bravo for the ball!
1852: Frenetic finish to this game. Honduras putting Mexico on their heels with intensely tight pressure.
1847: GOAL Honduras 2-2 Mexico 80'
Jerry Bengtson taps the rebound past Memo Ochoa into the net. And Honduras are going to go for all three points! What a turnaround in a minute!!
1847: PENALTY SAVED
Jerry Bengtson's weak penalty was saved by Ochoa! But...
1846: Costly comes blazing into the area, and it was clear that he would go down at the first contact. Courtney Campbell doesn't hesitate to point to the spot.
1846: PENALTY TO HONDURAS
1845: And now we are about to see what the Brits would call "a grandstand finish".
1844: GOAL Honduras 1-2 Mexico 77'
And finally Honduras convert from one of their set-pieces, as Carlo Costly rises above the pack to redirect the corner kick into the goal.
1843: Fifteen minutes to go in San Pedro Sula. Omar Bravo comes on for the injured Chicharito.
1840: Honduras keep the pressure on as they first win a throw-in near the penalty area and then a corner. All for naught though as they fail to create a shot and Mexico clear.
1838: And just as I say that, they win a free kick just outside the Mexican penalty area.
1837: It feels like Honduras is getting frustrated. Drums and horns haven't stopped sounding in the stands since kickoff, though.
1831: Chicharito is down on the floor. Did his hamstring tighten up?
1827: Sorry for the long delay at the start of the second half -- I was taking care of things and they took longer than expected.
1822: GOAL Honduras 0-2 Mexico 52'
Honduras need to wake up if they're going to salvage this game. Javier Hernández scores his second goal as he pokes the free kick past Valladares.
A physical but open encounter finds Mexico on top at the half thanks to a well-worked goal by Javier Hernández from a cross by Andrés Guardado. If Honduras can stop skying the ball over the bar they might be able to level up the match. We'll see what happens in the second half.
1755: HALFTIME Honduras 0-1 Mexico
1753: Uh oh, did Chicharito through a punch at Bernárdez? Big scuffle there. Very lucky not to be sent off, much less receive a card.
1753: A great chance for Honduras as a cross from the right finds Bengtson, but the ball hits his shoulder and goes over the bar.
1752: Another great stop by Héctor Moreno to strip the ball away from Costly and save a goal.
1745: I think Mexico will be happy to see Honduras settle for teeing up shots from outside the area.
1744: And a long ball over the top finds Bengtson with only Ochoa to beat, but Ochoa comes up huge to tackle the ball away without fouling. That's worth an applause.
1743: Free kick to Honduras, just outside the Mexican penalty area. Ball rolled toward the center for Boniek, but he skies it majestically over the bar.
1738: It's been an even match, but Mexico have had their chances. And now they've converted one. How will Honduras respond?
1736: GOAL Honduras 0-1 Mexico 28'
Great run on the left by Guardado, and Javier Hernández meets the cross with a glancing header that beats Valladares and falls inside the far post. Well-worked play and well-taken goal.
1734: Andrés Cantor is pointing out how stinkin' hot San Pedro Sula is -- "for both teams", he points out. They've just shown a thermometer near the field -- it's up to 40 C!
1726: dos Santos' kick flies over the bar, looks like it was deflected by the wall, but it will be a goal kick to Honduras.
1725: Mexico responds through an excellent run by Giovani dos Santos, which results in a dangerous free kick just outside the Honduran penalty area.
1724: Mexico's play is getting a little ragged. Already?? Two or three consecutive lost possessions in the Honduran half already, and the best chance up to now falls to Bengtson but his shot has little power.
1723: Ochoa's distributions have not been very good so far.
1721: Lovely counterattack by Honduras led by Boniek García (I think) but the header by Costly is too square.
1717: Corner kick to Honduras, and the ensuing kick finds Izaguirre's head but the ball flies over Ochoa's crossbar.
1716: Noise is nonstop at San Pedro Sula. Great atmosphere in the opening minutes.
1715: Another chance for Mexico as Chicharito's free header falls wide of the far post. Wasn't a great header to be honest but it goes down as a chance.
1714: Early opportunity for Mexico as a through ball on the right finds dos Santos who had beaten the trap and Valladares, but his angle was too acute. His centering pass finds Aquino but his shot dribbles wide.
1710: Mexico look to play with a 4-2-3-1 with Chicharito up front. Both Mexican central defenders have to be careful, a yellow card will see either one suspended for the big match against the USA next week.
1709: And we're off with tonight's Hexagonal matches, to a tremendous cacophony of noise at Estadio Olímpico.
1708: Mexico's coming with four changes, including Guillermo Ochoa (Ajaccio) in place of Joe Corona.
1704: Honduras and Mexico teams are on the field in San Pedro Sula. Mexican anthem drowned out by the swarm of horns and whistles, and Honduras anthem sung passionately by the local audience.