Canada is up against Mexico on Feb. 4, 2020 at the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Canadian women look to beat Mexico and win group at CONCACAF Olympic qualifier

EDINBURG, Texas — History and the numbers are on Canada’s side Tuesday when it faces Mexico to decide first place in Group B at the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship.

Eighth-ranked Canada is 21-1-2 all-time against No. 26 Mexico and undefeated in their last 13 meetings (11-0-2). The Canadian women have outscored the Mexicans 26-7 over that 13-game stretch.

The one loss was costly, however. Mexico’s 2-1 win in 2004 prevented Canada from going to the Athens Games.

Both teams are 2-0-0 going into the match at H-E-B Park. With a goal difference of plus-20 compared to plus-seven for Mexico, Canada will finish atop the group with a win or tie.

The top-ranked U.S. beat No. 37 Costa Rica 6-0 on Monday in Houston to win Group A.

Topping Group B is desirable given it means avoiding the U.S. in the semifinals.

The top two in each pool advance to the cross-over semifinals, A1 versus B2 and B1 versus A2. The semifinal winners will represent CONCACAF, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean, at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics.

Canada has finished runner-up to the U.S. at the last three CONCACAF Olympic qualifiers.

The Canadians opened play here with an 11-0 shellacking of No. 127 St. Kitts and Nevis before thumping No. 51 Jamaica 9-0. Mexico defeated Jamaica 1-0 and St. Kitts 6-0.

“Mexico have players that can play well all over the pitch and they have a deep roster,” Canada coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller said in a statement. “They’ve played the U.S. a few times in the past months, they’ve played Tier-1 teams, so they know what we are able to do and that we can put on that kind of pressure as well.

“Every match has its own story, and hopefully we can write a good one early in these 90 minutes.”

Eight different players have scored for Canada. Going into Monday’s play, Jordyn Huitema led the tournament with six goals followed by Adriana Leon (tied for second with four). Other Canada goal-scorers are Janine Beckie (three), Ashley Lawrence and captain Christine Sinclair (two each) and Jessie Fleming, Jayde Riviere and Deanne Rose (one each).

Sinclair’s strikes were Nos. 184 and 185 of her career, moving her past retired American Abby Wambach to become the world’s all-time leading goal-scorer.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 3, 2020.

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