Soccer  > General Soccer  > Mexico builds sand castle in Puerto Vallarta
December 22, 2010, 01:21 PM
There are times when the sand of Puerto Vallarta looks like the grass of Azteca.

Mexico capitalized on its "home field" advantage to return to the Beach Soccer World Cup after a year's absence, winning the CONCACAF championship in December to claim its second title in three years.

It needed a four-goal effort from Antonio Barbosa to rally from a 3-0 deficit, avenging a group finale loss and beating defending champion El Salvador for the 2010 CONCACAF Beach Soccer Championship crown.

"I want to thank all those that have helped this team," Mexico coach Ramon Raya said. "It's a great satisfaction that we can say 'Mission accomplished, onto the World Cup!' It's one of the great joys of my career and I share it with all my players; they deserve it."

An opening rally and one-goal victory over upstart Jamaica and a surprisingly difficult 3-1 win over Canada were enough to get Mexico into the semifinals and a chance at a World Cup berth.

A preview of what would be the final match-up had Mexico jump ahead of El Salvador 2-0, but a three-goal performance by tournament scoring champion Frank Valasquez - including a deft left foot with nine seconds remaining in regulation - equalized for the Custcatlecos and sent the match to penalties.

Barbosa's attempt was blocked but Walter Torres converted his to give El Salvador an unbeaten first round. Barbosa would get his revenge in the final.

El Salvador would recover in the semifinals, rally from an early two-goal deficit, and then equalizing once again before prevailing on penalties 2-1 over Costa Rica to return to the final and the World Cup.

Mexico needed to get past the United States and appeared on its way with a goal by Miguel Plata 39 seconds after the opening kickoff. But Oscar Gil scored his fourth goal in three games midway through the second period and a defensive battle forced the game to penalties.

Torres was a hero for a second straight day when he converted his try and Yuri Morales bounced the Americans' attempt off the post.

The result assured Mexico of its third trip to the World Cup in four years - this time in Italy, while again denying the United States, a two-time champion which has been left home every year since 2007.
 
December 27, 2010  12:21 PM ET

I didn't know beach soccer had championships, I thought it was a fun thing people did in Brazil!

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