What should have been a night that celebrated a few heroic results turned into an evening full of controversy at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.
Canada used a goal from its teenage phenom to challenge Costa Rica, who entered the competition as the favorite to win Group A. But the real drama came in the nightcap, as French Guiana fielded the ineligible Florent Malouda in its starting 11 against Honduras.
Here’s a recap of Tuesday’s Group A matches:
Canada 1, Costa Rica 1
Canada put together a second positive performance in a row in its draw with the Ticos. Scott Arfield was once again a menace in the midfield for Les Rouges and 16-year-old Alphonso Davies continued to shine. Davies raced around a flat \-footed Christian Gamboa in the 26th minute to put away the opening goal from the left side of the box.
The goal was a massive boost to Octavio Zambrano’s men, who started the Gold Cup with a 4-2 win over French Guiana, but they only held the advantage for 16 minutes. Francisco Calvo equalized the contest in the 42nd minute with a leaping header off a corner kick.
The second half saw each side create chances, but the heat began to take its toll on the squads as the match went on. The draw benefits Costa Rica, who needs a win over French Guiana to clinch first place on Friday in Frisco, Texas. The job is a bit more difficult for Canada, especially if the forfeit by French Guiana is finalized. If that is the case, Canada must win or draw versus Honduras to avoid using the third place standings to advance to the knockout round.
Honduras 0, French Guiana 0
What should’ve been praised as a heroic effort on the field by the underdogs of the tournament turned into a situation mired in controversy.
French Guiana put together a valiant 90-minute performance filled with a multitude of key defensive interactions, but all of it will be for naught if the CONCACAF disciplinary committee rules that Florent Malouda was fielded illegally. Malouda, who has 80 appearances for France, didn’t make a massive impact on the match.
Regardless of if the result gets overturned in its favor, which would be a 3-0 result if a forfeit is decided upon, Honduras had a brutal night of finishing once again. Los Catrachos are one of three teams not to score at the Gold Cup so far with Nicaragua and Curacao being the others. The pressure is on manager Jorge Luis Pinto to get his team to perform better on Friday against Canada, or it could lead to an unlikely early elimination.