BRADENTON, Fla. – Toronto FC II midfielder Noble Okello scored his third goal of the 2018 Concacaf U-20 Championship for the Canada U-20 Men’s National Team, but it wasn’t enough to keep Panama from claiming a 2-1 victory to take control of Group D at IMG Academy on Tuesday night as Canada’s hopes of advancing to the second stage took a major blow.
Neither side created much in the way of chances early, but a red card to Canada’s Michael Baldisimo – formerly of Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 – in the 24th minute tilted things in the direction of their opponents. Panama made the man-advantage tell in the second minute of first-half stoppage time when Saed Diaz held off a defender as he broke into the penalty area and lifted a finish into the top-right corner of the net.
Despite being a man down, Canada leveled in the 55th minute as Okello seized on a low cross that deflected off a defender to the top of the penalty area and fired home a perfect first-time strike into the top-right corner of the net to pull his side level.
It took only four minutes for Panama to regain their lead, however, as Diaz capitalized on a rebound chance as he lifted the ball over Canada goalkeeper Alessandro Busti and headed into the empty net.
Canada will now need to see Panama falter in its final two games of the group stage as it sits three points back of Tuesday night’s victor in the standings. Canada’s remaining games come against the lowest two teams in the six-team group, however, as the side looks to take victory against both St. Kitts & Nevis and Martinique to keep its chances of winning the group and advancing alive.