Late goals for Jamaica and El Salvador on Saturday kept the competition tight in Group B heading into the final round robin of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
In the early match, Rodolph Austin managed to score off a free header in the 92nd minute to give Jamaica a 1-0 win over Canada. A few hours later, it was El Salvador’s Dustin Corea who equalized against Costa Rica with seconds remaining.
Jamaica are now leading the group with four points, but no nation has been eliminated from the tournament just yet. Costa Rica and El Salvador are level on two points, while scoreless Canada are sitting on just one.
Here are the key takeaways from the second round of matches in Group B.
Canada need offence, badly
It is now six straight Gold Cup matches dating back to 2013 without a win for Canada. They are playing absolutely dire football, and yet they still have a chance to progress to the knockout stages.
The Canadians have struggled to find the net, too. Their only real chance came early in the first half when Tosaint Ricketts took down a long pass inside the area before drilling the ball right at Jamaica goalkeeper Dwayne Miller. After half-time, coach Benito Floro pulled 20-year-old striker Cyle Larin, and suddenly Canada were playing in survival mode.
There was a concerted effort to play for the draw, and Canada ended up losing.
Jamaica had 21 shots to Canada’s seven, according to MLSsoccer.com, with the Reggae Boyz lacing more than half of their shots against the Canadians in the second half.
Defender David Edgar was stuck making clearance after clearance—once even off the goal line.
In the 60th minute, Jamaican forward Giles Barnes hit the crossbar off a free-kick. They eventually did damage in the last couple of minutes of the match when full-back Adrian Mariappa sent in a cross for Austin, who slipped through a huge crack in the Canadian defence and headed in the winner with authority.
Thanks to a draw in the other match, Canada can still go through. But they have played some of the worst football in the Gold Cup thus far, failing to produce much going forward. Floro has to change his tactics—after all, Canada had three defensive midfielders on the pitch against Jamaica—and give more confidence to younger players like Larin.
El Salvador is not giving up so easily
Just as well, El Salvador waited until the 92nd minute of their second Gold Cup match to get their first goal. And was it ever a big one.
Corea volleyed the equalizer for El Salvador in a 1-1 draw against Costa Rica off a free-kick in stoppage time. It was a perfect set piece and a horrible defensive breakdown.
El Salvador have been a spunky side, playing with fast cuts and surprises. They should have scored—and won—against Canada in the opening match, but they could not convert their chances.
They kept up the attack against Costa Rica. They outshot the 2014 World Cup Cinderella team and edged them out of possession. So yes, the bubble was ready to burst.
Mostly, though, this El Salvador plays with heart, and coach Albert Roca has to be behind that. Roca is a former Barcelona assistant, and he has this national team playing passes on the ground. It’s totally liberating football. They are one of the more interesting teams to watch in this tournament.