Costa Rica to semis; Mexico misses for first time

Jeff Kassouf February 15, 2016 58

Raquel Rodriguez scored twice on Monday at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, to lift Costa Rica past Mexico, 2-1 and into the semifinals of the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying tournament.

Costa Rica is now one win away from its first appearance in the Olympics. The two winners of Friday’s semifinals will advance to the 2016 Rio Olympics. Costa Rica is likely to face 2012 bronze medalists Canada in Friday’s semifinals.

Mexico, which would have advanced with a tie due to a superior goal difference entering the match, misses the semifinals of Olympic qualification for the first time in history.

Rodriguez opened the scoring in the 9th minute, fighting off Mexico defenders in the box before calmly slotting the ball past Mexico goalkeeper Cecilia Santiago for the early lead. Rodriguez then doubled Costa Rica’s lead in the 57th minute from the penalty spot after earning the PK. Rodriguez was brought down by Mexico midfielder Karla Nieto, who gave up the costly PK to the United States in the final minutes on Saturday when she was whistled for a handball in the box.

Mexico would not got out quietly. Mexico legend Maribel Dominguez scored the goal of the tournament thus far in the 79th minute, hitting a bicycle kick from an acute angle which looped over the head of Costa Rica goalkeeper Dinnia Diaz.

Dominguez had another chance 1-v-1 with Diaz in stoppage time, but but she pushed her right-footed shot wide of the far post. The miss was Mexico’s final opportunity of the game.

  • Terry Lash

    Congratulations Costa Rica. Well played.

  • Ethan

    I can’t imagine what’s going through Nieto’s mind right now after this match and the US match.

    Utterly world class from Dominguez. I don’t know how clear cut a miss her stoppage time shot was though. She was very clearly distressed at the final whistle.

    • mockmook

      It would have been a difficult shot with the GK closing in on her, but she should have been able to make it (or at least put it on frame / challenge the keeper to stop it).

      Likely she is so distressed because this is the end of big tournaments for her.

      • ARED

        I agree it was a very makable chance, but I would also not call it a bad miss either. Sometimes it’s just a miss. I think she did well to set up the shot, but then just opened up her body a little too much. She hit it well, just about 2 yards wider than she wanted. In the 90th minute of matches I’ve seen a lot worse after a 50 yard sprint…. ; )

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  • Cc W

    Congrats to las Ticas! Rodriguez makes them a much better team, and she is bringing some confidence to the team. Surprising that Mexico went out. And that goal – a thing of beauty!

  • F0OtballNowAndAlways

    Death to bunkering teams

  • john

    Happy for Costa Rica! Looking forward to Rocky in NWSL. So will Mexico finally make a coaching change.

    • Hope Powell

      I’m free, and I was in Movement’s rem sleep dream once that I became the next head coach for Mexico and we became a vicious world power.

  • FawcettFan14

    If this was the swan song for Maribel Dominguez, what an exit it was (though she’ll regret the miss in stoppage time). Perhaps an even better goal than De Vanna’s bicycle in NWSL.

    • kernel_thai

      Certainly a much bigger stage and a bigger moment in the match.

  • FawcettFan14

    Reckless play by Nieto, what was she thinking? Some highly dubious penalties called in this tournament. This one was clear.

  • newsouth

    Resource-less Costa Rica continues to impress. Isn’t half of Mexico’s squad pretty much trained and well fed in the same universities as the USWNT? Mexico, the regions best underachievers. Viva Costa Rica.

    • newsouth


      • Lorehead

        Congrats on advancing!

    • Movement

      Mexico has a history of playing the USWNT and Canada much better than Costa Rica does. The USWNT and Canada always blow out Costa Rica. Mexico at times has played both juggernauts from CONCACAF quite competitively. The problem is, Costa Rica’s style is a bad matchup for Mexico when those two teams face head-to-head.

      Costa Rica has the better offense, more athleticism, and flair than Mexico.
      Mexico has a better defense and is more organized than Costa Rica.
      The flair & athleticism tends to win out when those 2 teams play each other.

      • john eric

        Mexico goes into defensive mode when playing US or Canada. They don’t play to win : a goalless draw or minimize the score of expected loss. Against Costa Rica, they played wide because they had to at least, force a draw. Why they did not play same defensive game against Costa Rica leaves a lot to be desired. Perhaps, the coach was beaten at his own game. Viva Costa Rica.

  • I hope that Leonardo Cuéllar submitted his resignation after his failure

    • Movement

      Mexico needs to get some speed and flair.
      They need a Raquel Rodriguez and Shirley Cruz in the worst way.
      They need a Villalobos sister as well.

    • HOFCToDi

      El Tri

      14 head coaches since 1999.

  • Rdalford

    Congrats to Costa Rica. Costa Rica outplayed Mexico for 2/3 of the match and managed (just barely) to survive the late match surge by Mexico. Good to see the woso growth by Costa Rica, mostly a young team and young coach but also outstanding play from veteran S Cruz.

  • kernel_thai

    Fun match to watch and Portland will rue the day they didnt grab Rodriguez.

    • guest

      What happens if Rodriguez says she won’t resign in two years unless she is traded to Portland?

      • guest

        it’s only natural that rodriguez would want to live near her relatives.

  • Lord Otter-Blotter

    Wow, how about that Dominguez goal! Sad to see Mexico exit after playing so well in all three games, but I am happy to see Costa Rica’s star continue to rise. Let’s see if they can give Canada a game.

  • Jersey Shore Rises

    Congrats to Costa Rica as I tweeted to Jeff that they would beat Mexico 3-1 and I was pretty close… 😀 Raquel “Rocky” Rodriguez proved she deserved the NCAA Hermann Trophy and I’m going for CR beating Canada 2-1 in the Semi’s as FIFA has CR under ranked and Canada over ranked…. GO CR….

    • newsouth

      i’ve been pushing on these boards for over 2 yrs for the costa rican girls to get some love. kudos!

    • JL

      A lot of the credit should also go to players like Melissa Herrera and Lixy Rodriguez. Both of them were outstanding against Mexico, especially Herrera.

    • GT

      For selfish reasons I hope CR loses to Canada so Sky Blue will have her for the entire season. Likewise, I wouldn’t mind if Australia doesn’t make the Olympics so Sky Blue will have Kerr and Foord for the entire season.

  • Steglitz49

    Just to get us to 25 comments, Manchester City has signed Megan Campbell (FSU and Ireland).

  • ARED

    Great matchup, nice to see the skill level continuing to develop in various place.

    Too bad the draw stacked the groups (where I have heard this before…? lol), because I really would have liked to see both Costa Rica and Mexico get a shot at Canada.

  • STT

    I bet someone in the FMF is regretting leaving Corral off the roster this time.

    That said, putting USA, MEX, and CRC in the same group was completely asinine in the first place. Aside from CRC putting up a goose egg in 2006 WWCQ and TRI waltzing in to the door left open by CAN in 2014 WWCQ, CONCACAF has only had four nations reach the semis in every single competition in the past 15 years. The fact that one of them would be guaranteed to miss OGQ semis for the first time was criminal.

    • Steglitz49

      Payback to Canada for organizing WC-15, springs to mind.

      • STT

        How is that “payback”? Canada got easy routes in both tournament, they’re certainly not getting slammed here.

        • Steglitz49

          “Reward” might have been a better word than “payback”.

        • Kevin

          The question comes down to which do you think would have been the easier route?

          1) CAN/MEX/CRC being in the same group and CAN getting a free pass in the semi’s.

          2) CAN getting a free pass in the group and having to play CRC/MEX in the semi’s.

          If I were CAN, I’d want scenario 1, not scenario 2.

          I think the USA got the best draw possible for themselves.

          • Lorehead

            The U.S. needed a very questionable PK call to beat Mexico at home. If I were the CSA, I would not assume that it would be easy for my team to win the Group of Death and still give Christine Sinclair her best chance to catch Mia.

          • Kevin

            Yeah, but if CAN ties MEX/CRC in the group stage, they most likely still win the group, get the #1 seed and play T&T.

            If CAN ties MEX/CRC in the semi’s, it goes to OT and a shootout.

            By playing MEX/CRC in the group stage, you can slip up and still make it to Rio. Slip up in the semi’s and you’re going home.

          • Lorehead

            One upset, and its semifinal is on the road against the United States.

          • Steglitz49

            It does not seem as if Christine cares about the record. She seems to prefer for Canada to do well.

          • STT

            CAN/MEX/CRC in the same group would make it MUCH more likely that something happens and CAN finishes second to face USA in the semis. I think CAN is better off in the current draw.

          • Kevin

            It’s an easier chance to make the semi’s, but that doesn’t make it an easier chance to win the semi’s and make it to the OG.

            They can get away with a tie vs MEX/CRC in the group stage and still easily win the group with 7 points on Goal Diff.

            They could actually lose to MEX/CRC and still advance with the #1 seed if the MEX/CRC team that beat them loses to CRC/MEX, which is very possible. It happens all the time in the WC.

            Even if CAN gets the #2 seed, they still have a chance to advance by beating USA, which is unlikely, but not that unlikely.

            This draw was the best way to guarantee the USA didn’t play CAN in the semi’s.

            Either way, this format is really stupid when you consider what they’re playing for.

          • Totally agree. US to sure to be in the final either way with this draw. Not the case for CAN now that they have to beat CR.

      • Lorehead

        You mean, you think Canada got a group it should be easy for them to win, avoiding the United States in the semifinal? If CONCACAF cared about this tournament at all (Then why didn’t they put all the USWNT’s games on national TV and schedule the USWNT’s win-or-stay-home game in prime time?) they wouldn’t want the USWNT to have to face a tough opponent in the semis either. For the U.S. not to go to the Olympics would be a financial disaster.

        As it is, the US just had to finish ahead of the winner of Mexico–Costa Rica to get what (with all respect to the incredible game Trinidad is having) should be a free pass. And even if they’d somehow ended up facing Canada at home, that would have been interesting, but they should still have been able to do it.

        • Steglitz49


          I hope that Costa Rica does the needful.

          • Lorehead

            The problem with any theory of how CONCACAF rigged the draw on purpose is that they obviously didn’t plan ahead at all, and left a whole lot of TV and ticket revenue from do-or-die USWNT Olympic qualification on the table.

          • Steglitz49

            I don’t follow you.

            Let’s see how the European qualifying matches next month do and compare with the SheBelieves cup, preferably with true estimates of real attendance.

  • NYRicks Ghost

    The CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying tournament is joke and boring. Lot of people act like this is a legit event when it is a mere formality for the USA and Canada to assume their rightful place at the Olympics. Most of these teams will never be much better than they are now except for Mexico.

    How many USA players have achieved 5 goals in one game at the CONCACAF qualifiers? 5 goals in one game will not happen playing against Germany, France, England, Brazil, Japan and many other teams. Lets see what happens when the big dogs are on the pitch during the 2016 SheBelieves Cup. Might even see a loss, should Jill field anyone less than the best. These are teams we can lose to.

    • Steglitz49

      They lost to China on home soil not that long ago.

    • Jersey Shore Rises

      Could not disagree more as Costa Rica is going to beat Canada as Canada as FIFA has them over rated in the rankings.

    • john eric

      France, Germany,or England do not play defensive games against USWNT who only managed a penalty goal against Mexico. The USWNT beat Costa Rica 5-0, yet Costa Rica sent Mexico packing with a 2-1 victory. Costa Rica plays similar style like Colombia who beat France 2-0 in the 2015 World Cup. Concacaf competition provides valuable lesson of patience needed to break down bunker defenses.

      • guest

        I think England would definitely bunker against the US. The other two will try and hold the ball.

  • Lorehead

    I just got the chance to watch this match on replay, and easily the best of the tournament. It’s still a shame we didn’t get the U.S. and Costa Rica in group A, Mexico and Canada in group B, and two very interesting semifinals. But at least the ridiculous seeding got us this game.

    • Kevin

      Yeah, the seeding is screwed up, 3 of the top 4 CONCACAF teams in the same group.

      I know it won’t matter at all, but what I don’t like is the format.

      I think it’s pretty stupid to essentially have 1 game determine who goes to Rio. US and Canada have both dominated their groups, but it still all comes down to 1 game for all the marbles. USA/CAN could lose game 1/2/3/5 and still advance, but don’t lose game 4 or you go home.

      • Lorehead


        The best system would be a hex like the final stage of men’s World Cup qualifying. Pick ten dates between July 2015 and July 2016, invite Canada, Mexico, the U.S., the Caribbean champion, the Central American champion, and the winner of a playoff between the Caribbean and Central American runner-ups. Set ten international dates in those twelve months. Have CONCACAF pay to stage the five home games in each country; it has the money, and several of the matches would make money, too. There’s even the chance a big crowd could show up to Estadio Azteca to see Mexico–USA. The USWNT would get better competition than the Victory Tour and be playing with something on the line. Every other WNT, including Canada’s, would benefit from getting to play ten times, five at home. It would be great for the sport.

        Second-best would be to pick five dates and have every team play every other team once. Preferably not two days apart. The semifinal winners play five times already, and you could still schedule doubleheaders, even tripleheaders.

        Third-best would be double-elimination.

        • Lorehead

          Alternatively, since that implies the Caribbean and Central American qualifiers have to be held by the time the World Cup is over, if one of those countries (such as Costa Rica) does go to the World Cup, qualify it for the Hex automatically. Then send the winners of the tournaments to the Hex too. Only hold the playoff for the winners if both a Central American and a Caribbean team make it to the World Cup, or for the runners-up if neither do.

        • Steglitz49

          Who would pay for all this? To even think of using the Aztec stadium seems removed from reality.

          Let’s see how the double headers for SheBelieves pan out and let’s trust someone does some real estimates of true attendances.

          • Lorehead

            I said that CONCACAF would. It makes a lot of money from the men’s game; it can invest some of that back in the women’s. 2012 Olympic qualifying for Team Canada at home, and the 2015 victory tour in the U.S., were profitable. Maybe Mexico–USA would be, too. Azteca might be a longer-term aspiration. (Although don’t you keep yakking about how we should put the NWSL final in the Rose Bowl or something because a women’s Euro CL did well?) But there are a lot of smaller stadiums in Mexico, and we won’t know how a competitive Derby would sell there until we give Mexicans the chance to buy tickets to one.