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2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup: Canada and El Salvador Battle to a Scoreless Draw

Canada and El Salvador squared off on Wednesday, July 8th in the second game of a Group B doubleheader of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, at the StubHub Centre in Carson, California.

Given that the earlier Group B match between Costa Rica and Jamaica had ended in a 2 – 2 draw, this one was a glorious opportunity for Canada or El Salvador to pick up three points and take an early lead in the group. In the end, it was a contest that both teams will surely want back, as a 0-0 draw in a scrappy, start/stop kind of affair, left everyone tied in the Group at 1 point each.

Canada and El Salvador Battle to a Scoreless Draw

Canada started with a 4-1-4-1 formation and El Salvador with traditional 4-4-3. Adam Straith sat just in front of the back four in a defensive midfielder position. Canada was also without the services of experienced midfielder Julian de Guzman who had reportedly failed a fitness test. They were also without the offensive power of Atiba Hutchinson who was out due to injury.

El Salvador looked to be well on to the front foot in the opening minutes as they pressed Canada and created several opportunities. If anything, they probably felt pretty much at home in front of a dominantly Salvadoran crowd, vocal and clad heartily in blue.

El Salvador lost striker Nelson Bonilla early due to an eye injury. His replacement Irvin Hererra, came on with some momentum as he had two scoring opportunities as he was able to shake off Canadian defenders quite easily and drive a couple of shots on goal at close range.

Canadian goalkeeper, 35 year old Kenny Stamatopoulos, was equal to the task and made some good saves, especially on Herrera. He did look shaky at times however as he punched away several balls that should have been caught. His poor decision-making throughout the late minutes of the first half only created more danger for the Canadian side.

If anything, the most notable highlight had to be the miss by Canadian forward Cyle Larin in the 36th minute. Larin was quick to jump and pick up a quick ball that bounced off a Canadian defender and landed just in behind the El Salvador defenders as they tried to exit their half. Larin took advantage of the break and was quickly alone on goal. With a quick step to the right of goalkeeper Derby Carrillo, he was staring at a gaping open net but only bobbled his attempt as the ball came off the outside of his right foot and went high over the bar. A goal at this point would have immediately changed the complexion of the match and put Canada in the driver’s seat.

It was not to be however, as Canadian players seem frustrated and struggled to find the free flowing offensive form they have developed under Floro. El Salvador was often able to press fairly high, keep Canadian forwards close, limit space, and stop the Canadian attack before it ever got going. A number of misses from well outside the box were really as much as Canada could muster.

Deep into the second half, as Canada found room on the left side, crosses from the flank began to find their way onto the heads of Canadian forwards. Marcus Haber, who had come on for Kyle Larin in the 69th minute, managed to get two of these on target. Russell Teibert and Jonathan Osorio replaced Samuel Piette and Kyle Bekker respectively at the 83rd and 86th minutes. By this time, it seemed that Canada might threaten a bit more, but in the end it was too little, too late, as Derby Carrillo and his defenders were able to gobble up or stave off everything Canada had to offer.

One has to wonder why Teibert and/or Osorio did not actually start given their current prominence as contributing and energetic midfielders in MLS with Vancouver and Toronto. Floro may need to revisit his lineup for the match ahead against Jamaica on Saturday. He is highly confident in the abundance of youth he has available and may want to spread the opportunity around. While the Gold Cup is a valuable test for his newly developed squad, 2018 World Cup qualification matches loom on the horizon as well.

Canada barely edged El Salvador statistically, in terms of possession, crosses, completed passes, and duels and tackles. While they may see this one as a missed opportunity, both teams really need to look forward to their next matches, where finding the form they only showed in flashes last night, will become an absolute must if they are to move past the group stage.


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