5. YOUTH: Mexico eliminated in CONCACAF shocker

Mexico won't be defending its U-17 World Cup championship this summer in South Korea.

In a shocking turn of events at the first of two CONCACAF U-17 qualifying groups, Mexico was eliminated without losing a game. Host Honduras and Haiti advanced to the 2007 U-17 World Cup by sharing first place.

Mexico finished third after tying all three games. After Haiti's 3-0 win over El Salvador on Sunday clinched its first berth in the U-17 world championships, Mexico needed to beat Honduras in the deciding game, but they played to a 0-0 tie before 27,080 fans in Tegucigalpa.

In 2005, Mexico's U-17s had cruised to the title -- Mexico's first in a FIFA competition -- by beating the Netherlands, 4-0, in the semifinals and Brazil, 3-0, in the final.

Haiti's U-17s were greeted as national heroes upon their return to Port-au-Prince. Herold Junior Charles, Jean Francis Fabien Vorbe, Joseph Patterson and Normil Valdo were among Haiti's standouts. Haiti's rise is not seen as a fluke in Caribbean circles. Last year, it had impressed, finishing as the top Caribbean team at the CFU Youth Cup.

(With the expansion of the U-17 World Cup to 24 teams, CONCACAF was given five berths -- the top two teams in the four-team Group A and the top three teams in the five-team Group B -- which will take place April 28-May 6 in Jamaica and in which the USA is entered.)
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