MIAMI, Florida – The third week of 2019/20 Concacaf Nations League Qualifying has come and gone, leaving fans with plenty to ponder before the tournament resumes next March.
Without question, of the three weeks played thus far in CNLQ, week three will be remembered as the time when defenses battened down the hatches.
After 84 total goals were scored in week one and 77 in week two, just 45 goals were scored in week three, clearly reflecting the competitive nature of the 16 matches played.
There were also fewer mistakes committed by defenses. In the previous two weeks combined, there were a total of 10 goals via penalty conversion and five own goals. Yet in week three, just one penalty was converted, while no own goals were conceded.
It is also becoming more and more difficult for attacking players coming off to bench to make an impact. After 22 goals were scored by substitutes in the first two weeks, only twice did a substitute find the back of the net in week three.
On an individual level, there is now a new leading scorer in CNLQ, with Rangelo Janga (6 goals) of Curacao supplanting Duckens Nazon (5 goals) of Haiti.
Janga’s total would be even higher if not for the woodwork; the Curacao FW is tied with Jamaica’s Javon East for most shots that have hit the post (2).
Certainly, one of the most unsung heroes in CNLQ has been Dominica’s Briel Thomas. The MF leads the tournament in ball recoveries (9) and was a big reason why Dominica collected its first CNLQ victory in week three in a 2-0 win over Sint Maarten. Thomas’s four shots on goal and 57 completed passes were tops among all players in CNLQ week three.
Defensively, one would be hard-pressed to think of a finer performance than the Cayman Islands, who had 19 ball recoveries in a 0-0 draw against Saint Lucia. Adding to that was the sensational performance in goal by GK Ramon Sealy, who had seven saves, including a stop from point-blank range.
At the end of the third week, Curacao, Haiti, Canada, Cuba, Jamaica and Martinique occupy the first six positions to play in the A-League and have a direct ticket to the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup. Bermuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Dominican Republic and Nicaragua will look to lock down the final four Gold Cup spots in March.
Other teams that remain in the hunt in March for a direct ticket to the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup are: French Guiana, Belize, El Salvador, and Montserrat. Without a doubt, March will be a month full of emotions as CNLQ comes to a close.