There are two trips to London up for grabs in CONCACAF 2012 Olympic Qualifying, which begins on Thursday. As is the case in every age group, the United States and Mexico are the favorites in the tournament and are expected to win the two spots to the London Olympics, but they still have to win the matches to get there. And considering this is a tournament for players under the age of 23, you never know what could happen.
Once the teams get to the Olympics, they can have three players over the age of 23 join the team, but for qualifying, only the underage players are eligible. Further complicating things: The tournament is not played on FIFA international dates, so club teams are not obligated to release players to compete in the qualification tournament, although many clubs have released players.
The eight teams remaining in CONCACAF qualifying have been split into two groups. The United States, Canada, El Salvador and Cuba are in Group A, and their group stage matches will be played at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn. Mexico, Honduras, Panama, and Trinidad and Tobago are in Group B, and their group stage matches will be played at Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
The top two teams in each group will advance to the championship round, which will be played at Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan. The first-place team from Group A will play the second-place team in Group B, while the first-place team from Group B will play the second-place team from Group A in the semifinals. The winners will qualify for the Olympics and the the final, which has no real importance.
Thursday, March 22
El Salvador vs. Canada -- 6:30 p.m. ET
United States vs. Cuba -- 9 p.m. ET
Saturday, March 24
Cuba vs. El Salvador -- 4:30 p.m. ET
United States vs. Canada -- 7 p.m. ET
Monday, March 26
Canada vs. Cuba -- 6:30 p.m. ET
United States vs. El Salvador -- 9 p.m. ET
Friday, March 23
Honduras vs. Panama -- 9 p.m. ET
Trinidad and Tobago vs. Mexico -- 11:30 p.m. ET
Sunday, March 25
Panama vs. Trinidad and Tobago -- 4:30 p.m. ET
Mexico vs. Honduras -- 7 p.m. ET
Tuesday, March 27
Honduras vs. Trinidad and Tobago -- 9 p.m. ET
Mexico vs. Panama -- 11:30 p.m. ET
Saturday, March 31
Winner Group B vs. 2nd Group A -- 6 p.m. ET
Winner Group A vs. 2nd Group B -- 9 p.m. ET
Monday, April 2
Winner Semifinal 1 vs. Winner Semifinal 2 -- 8 p.m. ET