It’s CONCACAF’s day in the global soccer sun
Personally, I think everyone here should have been rooting for Mexico during today’s Olympic gold medal match. But I understand the emotional undertow of pulling for a rival, anathema to so many good, sweet, clean U.S. Soccer supporters.
So what about a little compromise? Can we at least be happy in the post-Olympic afterglow for CONCACAF? (Suggested new marketing slogan: “CONCACAF soccer: Come for the curiosity of that wacky acronym, stay for the Olympic success!”)
Yes, this is Olympic soccer, a clear junior varsity event in the men’s international game. These aren’t the senior national teams.
Still, this isn’t the FIFA Under-17s championships, either. These are full professional players, making the grande bucks, who decide Olympic tournament matters.
When you marry it with the outcome of the just-completed women’s tournament (“U.S.A.! U.S.A! …”), this is like a win-win-win for CONCACAF.
The region’s team finished with a combined14-3-4 record, with two gold medals and a bronze. That’s simply outstanding.
Mexico made a little history Saturday, that generation of fine young players collecting glorious gold – undercutting favored Brazil’s efforts to finally claim that elusive Olympic title.
Honduras didn’t medal ultimately, but the Central Americans quite possibly may have if they had caught a break or two in the quarterfinal against Brazil. It was a run to be proud of, for sure, by a country so rarely seen at the top levels of worldwide soccer tournaments.
Mexico’s closest, previous brush with Olympic greatness came all the way back in 1968, when the hosts finished fourth. And make no mistake, Saturday’s gold was no fluke; front to back, this was a terrific Mexican side. Don’t forget, about half the elimination round success came without one if El Tri’s best, the injured Giovani dos Santos, who wasn’t available for Saturday’s Wembley moment to remember.
On the women’s side, the United States claimed gold once again, of course. And Canada found a way to medal against France.
That’s a heaping helping of success in a confederation that usually swims in the shallow end of the world soccer pool rather than be splashed on by the muscular types in the water.