For the first time in CONCACAF Gold Cup history, matches were scheduled outside of North America with Costa Rica and Jamaica hosting group stages matches in this year’s tournament. In the Group B openers, Costa Rica and Haiti emerged victorious to move to the top of the group standings to the delight of the home fans in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Los Ticos scored early and often in the first half, with left back Bryan Oviedo opening the scoring in the 7th minute. The longtime Everton and current Sunderland defender finished from close range following a nice give-and-go move and Nicaraguan keeper Justo Lorente (2 saves) was unable to keep out despite getting a large piece of the ball.
OH. MY.— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 17, 2019
What a strike by Celso Borges
Los Ticos captain puts Costa Rica up by 2 in the first half. pic.twitter.com/sd2OsQcKG0
Celso Borges doubled the lead with a rocket of a goal in the 19th minute, finishing off a backwards centering pass right at the top of the box. Elias Aguilar made it 3-0 in first half stoppage time, when his free kick cross bounced inside the six yard box, eluding everyone, and found its way into the net untouched.
FC Cincinnati’s Allan Cruz finished the scoring in the the 75th minute, slamming home a backheel pass from Bryan Ruiz at the top of the box for the 4-0 final score. Costa Rica outshot Nicaragua 15-8 overall and 8-1 in shots on target and held a 60-40% edge in possession on the night as they moved comfortably into first place in the group table.
In the first game at the Estadio Nacional, Haiti staged a second half comeback against tournament debutantes Bermuda in an exciting 2-1 match that ended in victory for Les Grenadiers. New England Revolution midfielder Zachary Herivaux started and played all 90 minutes in the center midfield position of Haiti’s 4-3-3.
Bermuda captain and center back Dante Leverock opened the scoring at the stroke of halftime, nodding home a header on a corner kick with a brilliant near post run through the Haitian defense. The goal was the Gombey Warriors first ever Gold Cup score and gave them a 1-0 lead going into the break.
Haiti’s equalizer was a bit of a playground move, but the training ground routine, if it was that, was successful as two Haiti players debated over a free kick, Steeven Saba quickly whipped in a cross that Frantzdy Pierrot finished at the far post in the 54th minute.
Haiti levels the score!!!— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 16, 2019
Frantzdy Pierrot heads home a well executed set piece and we're all tied up in the second half. pic.twitter.com/Pl23pX4Z2y
Twelve minutes later, it was Pierrot again, this time finishing off a brilliant build up from Haiti down the left flank. New York Red Bulls midfielder Derrick Etienne beat his defender and centered for striker Duckens Nazon. While Bermuda keeper Dale Eve made the initial save, he was unable to do much about the rebound and Pierrot had his brace and Haiti had the lead.
Former BC Eagle Zieko Lewis had a late chance to equalize following a good move and nutmeg down the left flank, but his outside of the foot shot found the side netting in the closing minutes and the match finished 2-1 to Les Grenadiers.
Haiti was able to out shoot Bermuda 24-8 on the evening, including a 10-2 edge for shots on target. Eve registered eight saves on the evening and Bermuda more than held their own overall in this one.
Costa Rica leads the group on goal difference over Haiti after one match. Group B resumes play on Thursday, June 20th from Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas at 7pm for Nicaragua-Haiti followed by Costa Rica-Bermuda at 930pm.