Out goes youth and in comes experience.
The Central American team came into the match with Curacao needing a win after taking a 3-1 drumming from Mexico. Elias Hernandez forced a save from Blake with a swerving drive in the 52nd minute before Gallardo headed right to the Philadelphia Union goalkeeper on the ensuing corner kick.
Mexico dominated possession for most of the game with the Reggae Boyz seemingly content to defend and wait for counterattacking opportunities. One never knows with the predictably unpredictable Colombian. Like Mexico on Thursday, Curacao simply couldn't finish.
"Our players were afraid to take risks", Whitmore said. Los Canaleros haven't been perfect but as the USMNT learned in the group-stage opener, this is a resilient squad and a tough out.
"It's a tournament. We just want to advance". It's a young team, so it will be difficult. "We didn't perform as we should have".
Has there ever been any quarterfinalist in any tournament that has ever done less to earn their place than these Hondurans?
Mexico and Jamaica enter Sunday's final set of games in the preliminary round locked on four points after two matches in the four-team group, but the Mexicans are ahead courtesy of scoring more goals. It was an 88 minute goal by the US that sealed their group win on goals scored over Panama - the US missed two penalties in the 3-0 win against Nicaragua. However, the side may be able to score a goal of its own, similar to the one Nelson Bonilla netted in Mexico's opening match.
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The game plan worked, and now both teams are in a position to move to the next round if they can take care of business this weekend.
Matt Pentz is a Seattle-based soccer reporter covering primarily the Sounders, Timbers and Whitecaps.
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