Canada’s under-23 men’s soccer team is one win away from an Olympic berth. But they have no reason to celebrate.
A sloppy, uninspired performance against Cuba resulted in an unsatisfying 1-1 draw Monday night at the CONCACAF qualifying tournament in Nashville, Tenn.
The performance was a far cry from the effort that resulted in a 2-0 win over the host U.S. team on Saturday.
The result now requires Canada to beat Mexico on Saturday in Kansas City for a spot in London. El Salvador and the United States played later in the evening to determine the winner of Group A and the recipient of an easier semifinal opponent.
Cuba, who had given up 10 goals in their first two matches, did not allow too many Canadian scoring chances throughout the game and while they didn’t test Canadian goalkeeper Michal Misiewicz at all for the first 89 minutes, their tenacity was rewarded with a header by Maykel Reyes which found the Canadian net off a free kick to even the match just minutes from the final whistle.
The Canadians held the ball for much of the match but rarely tested Odisnel Cooper in the Cuban net. In the 25th minute, Lucas Cavallini laid a nice pass to Evan James who slid a low shot into the right corner of the Cuban goal to give Canada the lead.
But they could do little after that, with their only good opportunity of the second half coming off a well-struck free kick by Russell Teibert that required a leaping save by Cooper. James also had an opportunity on a low shot that Cooper was able to get a hand on and deflect wide.