It was the second straight road defeat for Mexico after a 2-0 loss to United States last Friday in Cincinnati, with El Tri dropping to the third place in the table behind the second-place USMNT.
In the run up to Tuesday’s at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium, the focus shifted away from the usual discussion of tactics and lineup choices and onto weather in the Canadian province of Alberta. Snow flurries cleared on Tuesday afternoon, but the game was still played in frigid conditions, the temperature dipping to -10 degrees Fahrenheit by the opening whistle.
Though the expected snow was not present at gametime, conditions on the turf field were poor. Gridiron lines were alo visible on field that primarily serves as the home of Canadian Football League team Edmonton Elks.
“As is standard practice for all matches, per the laws of the game the referee will determine if the field is playable,” CONCACAF spokesman Nicholas Noble wrote in an email to The Associated Press. “This happens as a matter of course.”
Like the game on Friday against the USMNT, Mexico’s early press caused problems for the Canadians, though breakaways on offense from Hirving Lozano and Raul Jimenez did not end in clear-cut chances for El Tri.
Despite the early lack of offensive production, Mexico’s five-man backline were initially able to contain Canadian duo Alphonso Davies and Tajon Buchanan. Nonetheless, Mexico’s own mistakes doomed them — this time before the first half ended. After Mexico’s Orbelin Pineda turned the ball over in his own half, Alistair Johnston tested Guillermo Ochoa from outside the box. Ochoa parried the shot towards Cyle Larin, who put away the game’s first goal.
In the second half, a listless Mexico watched as Canada upped the pressure from the whistle, producing several chances on Ochoa’s goal. In the 51st minute, a Stephen Eustaquio free kick found Larin’s right foot inside the six-yard box, with Ochoa a mere bystander. It was Larin’s 22nd goal for Canada national team since his debut in 2014, and his fourth multi-goal game with Les Rouges.
During injury time, Mexico attempted to claw their way to a draw — but were turned away by keeper Milan Borjan on a pair of occasions. Jesus Sanchez had the clearest chance, when the ball popped up towards his chest just inches away from goal. Borjan was able to make a dramatic save on the goal line and protect the victory.
For Mexico, their second consecutive qualifying loss meant dropping even further in the CONCACAF standings, hovering about the fourth-placed spot for now thanks to their superior goal difference over Panama.
Mexico have just two wins in their last six official matches, scoring six goals and conceding the same amount. They are back in action in Dec. 8 in a friendly against Chile in Austin, Texas, before World Cup qualifying picks back up in January.
On the other side, Canada took a massive stride towards qualifying for their first World Cup since 1986. Sitting atop the qualifying group with 16 points, they extended their unbeaten streak to eight games. Canada has not lost an official game since July, when they dropped the CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal to Mexico.