ALEX KURIAL - Monday, July 8, 2013
Five MLS players were in action on opening day of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, as Panama delivered a statement win over Mexico while Martinique shocked Canada late.
Gabriel Torres had a career day for Panama, notching both goals in his country's 2-1 win over Mexico. The 24 year old, who plays his club soccer with Zamora FC in Venezuela, struck his first on a well placed penalty shot to the top left corner just seven minutes in. Alberto Quintero had drawn the foul after a hard tackle by Raul Jimenez.
The large majority of Mexican supporters in the Pasadena crowd erupted just before half when Marco Fabian tied the game. Fabian controlled a ball into the box from Israel Hernandez before calmly slotting his shot home past Jaime Penedo in goal.
The lead was short lived after the break however as Torres struck his second just three minutes into the second half. Torres charged onto a cross by Quintero from the left side, poking the ball home short side from three yards out. This time Panama held the lead to pull off the upset win.
FC Dallas forward Blas Perez was unavailable for Panama, playing a full 90 minutes in his team's 2-0 loss to the LA Galaxy on Sunday.
Earlier, Canada had taken on Martinique in its first competitive game since crashing out of World Cup Qualifying to Honduras 8-1 in October. It was more humiliation on Sunday for the troubled national program though, as a 93rd minute goal from Fabrice Reuperne gave Martinique the 1-0 win.
Toronto FC defender Doneil Henry got the start for Canada, while Will Johnson from the Portland Timbers and Russell Teibert from the Vancouver Whitecaps started in midfield. Portland Timbers forward Frederic Piquionne, the lone MLS player for Martinique, got the start up front.
Marcus Haber looked to get Canada on the board early, but his 10th minute header off a corner kick was denied by Kevin Olimpa in goal.
Martinique had the next best chance 10 minutes later. A through ball by Piquionne found Kevin Parsemain in the left side of the box, but a leg save by Milan Borjan in goal kept the game scoreless.
Martinique continued to press before half, a 39th minute shot by Steve Gustan went just wide before Gregory Arnolin blasted a shot high four minutes later. Parsemain got another quality chance soon after the break, but his shot from the left side of the box was tipped away well by Borjan.
Johnson's poor day ended early in the second half. He had picked up a yellow in the 35th minute, and was taken off by head coach Colin Miller in favor of Simeon Jackson in the 53rd.
Canada's best chance of the second half was a 65th minute shot by Haber from the edge of the box that was just tipped over by Olimpa. Teibert earned himself a yellow in the 85th minute, while Haber made way for Toronto FC midfielder Jonathan Osorio 60 seconds later.
With a scoreless tie looming, Martinique snagged three points in stunning fashion. A scrambled clear by Canada off a corner kick bounced to Reuperne, who rifled home a volley to the top right corner from 25 yards. The Martinique team poured onto the field to celebrate the upset win, while Canada's Cup chances took an early blow.
With Group A's action at the Rose Bowl completed, they now head to CenturyLink Field in Seattle for the next round of games. Thursday's schedule sees group leaders Martinique and Panama kick off at 5:30 p.m. PDT, while Canada and Mexico will be playing to stay alive at 8 p.m. PDT.