Houston, TX (July 11, 2017) – Group A of the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup played in Houston, TX tonight. Both matches had there moments. Here’s a full recap of the action.
Gold Cup Group A In Houston: Davies On The Run And French Guiana Controversy
Canada and Costa Rica showed off some offensive flair. Honduras and French Guiana showed how not to finish your chances. Regardless of the decision surrounding Florent Malouda, Canada will sit at the top of Group A regardless.
Canada Survives Costa Rica 1-1
The Canucks and Los Ticos started the night off with a thrilling 1-1 draw. Costa Rica came out very aggressive, but Canada drew first blood in the 26th minute. Scott Arfield sent a perfect ball into space inside the box. Alphonso Davies ran around outside back Cristian Gamboa and finished the play off. In just two games the 16-year-old Davies now has three goals.
Costa Rica battled back, controlling much of play the rest of the half. They outshot Canada 20-10 in the game. Goalkeeper Milan Borjan and Centerback Dejan Jakovic made several heroic plays to protect the lead. It was Francisco Calvo who found the equalizer just before halftime. David Guzmán took a corner in the 42nd minute and Calvo got just enough space in the air to score.
Los Ticos controlled the play in the second half, but Borjan made several excellent saves. Calvo got another good chance on a corner, but was unable to capitalize. Bryan Ruiz and Marco Ureña led the attack, but were unable to finish their chances. The match ended 1-1.
Both teams had a bit of an injury scare in this game. Arsenal Midfielder Joel Campbell had to be subbed out for an injury just 24 minutes into the game. He came off the bench in the first group game. His status is unknown at the time of publishing, but this has to be disappointing for him. Alphonso Davies was subbed out for Canada in the 69th minute after an injury concern. He remained on the bench and was very spirited at full time, so it looks like he’ll be ok.
Honduras And French Guiana Play To A Scoreless Draw But . . .
The real story of the Honduras vs. French Guiana match happened before the game even kicked off. Florent Malouda started and captained French Guiana. The 37-year-old was a long time member of the French National Team, playing in the 2010 Word Cup in South Africa. Per CONCACAF, Malouda was ineligible to play for French Guiana in the Gold Cup and playing him would result in an automatic forfeit. The match would go down as a 3-0 loss on the books.
The two played to a scoreless draw. The teams combined for 36 shots (20-16 Honduras), 13 of which were on target (7-6 Honduras). Neither side could finish their chances. To be fair, the Goalkeepers Luis López and Donovan Léon stood on their heads at times.
In their homecoming, Houston Dynamo Forwards Romell Quioto and Albert Elis got chances, but were unable to finish. Honduras also struggled with completing the final pass in several dangerous situations. Ovidio Lanza was subbed out the match at half time for veteran Boniek Garcia, but he had trouble kickstarting the offense.
The controversial man Malouda led the attack for French Guiana, getting 7 shots (3 on target). The minnows his two posts in the second half and could not make their chances on the counter attack count.
We’ll have to wait and see what CONCACAF decides regarding Jair Karam choosing to call up and start Malouda in this match. From the FS1 English broadcast, it was unclear if CONCACAF will automatically review the incident or if Honduras will need to file for it. It also didn’t seem clear (at the final whistle) that CONCACAF was 100% automatically going to rule in favor of Los Catrachos. We’ll have to wait and see.