Both matches on Day 2 of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup produced draws, leaving no one with an advantage in Group B.
Jamaica and Costa Rica slugged it out to a 2-2 tie in the opening match at StubHub Center in Carson, California. But Canada and El Salvador followed that up with poor performances and no goals at all.
Here are the key takeaways from the second batch of matches at the Gold Cup.
Jamaica, Costa Rica left unsatisfied
Jamaica were coming off a dignified showing at the Copa America, where they lost all three of their group matches 1-0. Coach Winfried Schafer used most of his starters in Chile, so it wasn’t much of a surprise to see a tried and tested Jamaica score first after 13 minutes at the Gold Cup.
Off a rather innocuous throw in, the ball bounced right into the box and on to the foot of Garath McCleary, whose volley took a deflection on the way into the net.
Costa Rica pushed back and found an answer on their own set piece. What looked like a routine training exercise fooled the Jamaican defence. Long-time Costa Rica captain Bryan Ruiz sent a soft pass toward the edge of the box, where David Ramirez picked up the ball and sent in defender Roy Miller for the clear header.
Four minutes later, Costa Rica struck again. Ramirez was the one scoring this time, looping the goalkeeper after receiving a long ball from Celso Borges.
The game restarted in the second half with a quick response. In the 48th minute, Jobi McAnuff ran straight through the Costa Rica defence and slipped the ball past goalkeeper Dwayne Miller.
Neither side really had much interest in the defensive side of the game. It was all about the attack, with Costa Rica and Jamaica combining for 26 shots throughout the game, per MLSsoccer.com.
They didn’t want to settle for a draw, either, as both teams traded possession right up until the final whistle. Jamaica had a great opportunity to take the lead for good in the 86th minute when they broke on the counter, four of them against two, but the play amounted to nothing.
Canada, El Salvador miss opportunity to jump ahead
This tournament was marked as a springboard for the Canadian program to get back on the map in international football. Ranked 109th in the world, Canada entered the Gold Cup with a young team. FC Dallas forward Tesho Akindele and Orlando City’s first-overall draft pick Cyle Larin both made their Gold Cup debuts, while 34-year-old captain Julian de Guzman missed the game after failing a late fitness test, according to Canada Soccer.
So the young kids took over against El Salvador, and 20-year-old Larin had the go-ahead goal on his feet. A long ball from defender Nikolas Ledgerwood seemed to freeze the El Salvador defenders, and Larin ran on to it, rounding the goalkeeper and giving himself an open net. But he missed—not just wide, but way off.
Defending was casual in this game as well, and El Salvador—with their quick cuts and movement—hit back at Canada right at the end of the half. Richard Menjivar passed by three Canada defenders, right into the box, and a few seconds later chaos ensued. The ball bounced all over the penalty area. Canada goalkeeper Kyriakos Stamatopoulos had enough space to catch it, but he punched it anyway. Somehow the ball was cleared, and the threat vanished. It was a weird sequence of utter futility, and it was a microcosm of a game that lacked much quality.
A point is not the worst for Canada or El Salvador, but they both missed a chance to truly take authority of Group B.