Costa Rica didn´t have a great first round in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. They lost to El Salvador 2-1, eked past Jamaica 1-0 and tied Canada 2-2. The good news? The Ticos did enough to finish second in Group A and advance to the second round.
Last Friday, on an overcast evening at the Florida International University stadium in Miami, Costa Rica and Canada finished in a 2-2 draw, as all four goals of the match were scored in an 11-minute flurry in the first half.
The Ticos struck first in the 23rd minute, when Armando Alonso headed a pass through to forward Andy Herron, who had a one-on-one with Canadian keeper Greg Sutton. Herron attempted to lift the ball over Sutton, who tripped as he shuffled backwards, and the ball floated into the open net.
Two minutes later, Canada tied the score when midfielder Josh Simpson struck a cross from the left flank into the path of forward Patrice Bernier, who struck a right-footed volley past Costa Rican goalkeeper Ricardo González.
The torrid spree continued three minutes later, when Canadian midfielder Marcel de Jong struck a low left-footed shot from 30 yards away that skipped in front of González and found the right corner of the net to give Canada a 2-1 lead.
But back came Costa Rica. After a hard foul on Costa Rican midfielder Celsio Borges, captain Walter Centeno struck a gorgeous curling free kick from 25 yards out that struck the inside of the right post and caromed into net to tie the score at 2-2.
In the second half, the Canadian defense sat back and played for the tie. Though the Ticos dominated much of the final 45 minutes of play, they were unable to score, missing several opportunities in the final 10 minutes.
“They defended well,” Costa Rican forward Herron said after the game. “They just sat there while we pushed forward. We tried our best but Canada did a good job defending.”
The result gave Canada (2-0-1) the first place spot in Group A with seven points and improved Costa Rica (1-1-1) to four points. In the later Group A game of the night, Jamaica helped Costa Rica advance to the second round with a 1-0 win over El Salvador. The result left El Salvador and Jamaica with three points, while Costa Rica claimed second place with four.
Costa Rica will play Guadeloupe, a tiny French archipelago located in the eastern Caribbean, next Sunday (July 19) at 3 p.m. in Dallas. Guadeloupe finished second in Group C.
The game will be the first ever sporting event played at the monstrous palace that is the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The immaculate $1.15 billion stadium is estimated to hold between 80,000 and 100,000 people.