HARRISON, NJ - JUNE 13: Bengtson: Leading Honduras to greater heights. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Have you been following the 2012 London Olympics? There are obviously dozens of sports and hundreds of events, but one of those sports is soccer. How has the tournament been going so far?
Put simply, CONCACAF has been taking care of business so far in both the women's and men's tournaments. The women's tournament played the quarterfinal round earlier today, and both the United States and Canada won to advance to the semifinals. The USWNT beat New Zealand 2-0 with goals by Abby Wambach and Sydney Leroux. Although the Americans advance and continue on their quest to win another gold medal, the result was a little tight and New Zealand hung in well.Meanwhile, Canada beat Great Britain 2-0 today, with the goals coming from Jonelle Filigno and Christine Sinclair. Although Canada is ranked two spots ahead of "Great Britain," which is primarily a team of English players with a couple of Scottish women included. Despite Canada's higher ranking, Great Britain was of course playing at home, and the result was something of an upset. Still, Canada has a very strong team, one that has improved tremendously since last year's World Cup. Like the United States, Canada is looking for redemption in this Olympic tournament.
Unfortunately, the U.S. and Canada will be playing each other Monday in the semifinal, with a spot in the gold medal match on the line. On the bright side, that means a team from CONCACAF is guaranteed a shot at the gold medal, and that team will be playing the winner of the France-Japan semifinal.
In the men's tournament, CONCACAF representatives Mexico and Honduras have also done well so far in the tournament. Mexico topped Group B, and are set to face Senegal in the quarterfinal round Saturday (6:30 am PDT). With a draw in the opener against South Korea, a 2-0 win over Gabon, and a 1-0 win over Switzerland, El Tri have taken care of business in order to advance to the knockout stages. Although some may take Senegal lightly, they navigated a tough group to finish second, as they tied Great Britain, beat Uruguay (a big upset), and tied the United Arab Emirates. Mexico have to be considered favorites for this match, but it won't be easy. Still, if they advance, they'll be in the medal round.
Perhaps the biggest CONCACAF surprise at the Olympics is the Honduras men's team. Drawn in a group with tournament co-favorites Spain, it seemed rather unlikely that los Catrachos would advance. But they bucked the expectations and played well enough in Group D to advance, drawing with Morocco, defeating Spain, and drawing against Japan. Yes, you read that right: Honduras defeated Spain 1-0, on a goal from new MLS forward Jerry Bengtson. It was a monumental upset, and with those results, Honduras have also advanced to the quarterfinal round. Their next test will be the toughest yet, however, as they face remaining tournament favorite Brazil Saturday (11:30 am PDT). It seems like it may be a bit much to expect Honduras to upset both favorites in the tournament, but they'll do their best to continue the remarkable run.
All in all, CONCACAF has done well at the Olympic tournament so far. On the women's side, the U.S. and Canada are following expectations and looking for a gold medal, while on the men's side, Mexico and Honduras are trying to break through and win their first medals in soccer in their history. It should be an interesting story to follow through the remainder of the men's and women's tournaments.
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