In the second match of the Friday evening Gold Cup Group A doubleheader, Costa Rica took the three points with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Honduras.
It was a doubleheader, but this was the game the fans were waiting for. After Canada vs. French Guiana had played out in front of mostly empty stands at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ, those same stands were packed as the top two teams in Central America faced off in the Gold Cup.
In a hard-fought contest, Costa Rica prevailed 1-0 over Honduras to take second place in Group A and the early initiative in the race for qualification to the knock-out stages of the tournament.
Costa Rica controlled the ball for much of the first half, but Honduras had the better of the early chances. Tico goalkeeper Patrick Pemberton had to come up big with some saves, including this one:
But Costa Rica finally broke the deadlock on 39 minutes. It was an MLS connection as NYCFC’s Rodney Wallace crossed for San Jose Earthquakes striker Marco Ureña to score.
In the second half, Honduras had the upper hand, with most of Costa Rica’s chances coming on the break. It could have easily been a different result if Honduras had been more clinical in front of goal.
In the end, Costa Rica hung on for the 1-0 win and will consider it a job well done. ‘Los Ticos’ are the favourites to win Group A and will have seen this as their most difficult contest, given their generally poor record against Honduras.
Meanwhile, the Gold Cup is still far from over for Honduras. Assuming they can defeat group minnows French Guiana on Tuesday, it will likely all come down to Canada vs. Honduras in the final group game on July 14. And Canadians all know how that story usually ends.
Both teams had a sizeable MLS presence on the field. As well as Ureña and Wallace, Costa Rica fielded Francisco Calvo and Johan Venegas from Minnesota United, and Portland’s David Guzmán.
On the Honduran side, the Houston Dynamo trio of Romell Quioto, Alberth Elis, and Boniek García featured, with FC Dallas’ Maynor Figueroa playing 90 minutes.