ALEX KURIAL - Tuesday, July 9, 2013
MLS players had a major impact on day two action at the Gold Cup, which saw Group B get underway with a pair of games at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey.
Monday's opening match saw El Salvador taking on Trinidad and Tobago. The starting lineups featured all three MLS players from both rosters. Chivas USA defender Steven Purdy lined up for El Salvador, while Trinidad and Tobago showcased Philadelphia Union midfielder Keon Daniel and Vancouver Whitecaps defender Carlyle Mitchell.
Though Daniel has yet to register a goal with Philadelphia this season, it took him just 11 minutes to put his country on top. A pass from Carlos Edwards sent Daniel in alone on goalie Dagoberto Portillo, the Union-man patiently waiting before slotting a shot low to the right side. The goal was Daniel's 14th in international play.
El Salvador answered back in the 22nd minute with a stunning goal by Rodolfo Zelaya. Zelaya sent a free kick from 28 yards out blistering into the top right corner, a diving Jan-Michael Williams helpless in goal as the forward tied the game 1-1.
The teams entered the half level, and in the second it would be El Salvador's turn to take the lead. A cross from the right side of the box by Darwin Ceren found a charging Zelaya who smashed home a header from point blank range for his second goal of the game.
Trinidad and Tobago were unfazed though, and just four minutes later in the 73rd it was their turn to equalize. A ball upfield by Joevin Jones was controlled well by Stoke City forward Kenwyne Jones, who took it into the left side of the box before rifling a goal far side.
The trio of MLS players were subbed off in the final five minutes of the game, each having done their part to secure a point as the game ended 2-2.
The day's second game saw Haiti going up against Honduras. Haiti's starting lineup featured their pair of Sporting Kansas City players, defender Mechack Jerome and midfielder Peterson Joseph. Honduras meanwhile started Seattle Sounders midfielder Mario Martinez.
Like the early game, an early spark would come courtesy of the MLS contingent. Mario Martinez stretched a nice pass to forward Rony Martinez, who ran the ball into the box before roofing a power shot over goalie Frandy Montrevil. The Martinez to Martinez connection came just four minutes in to give Honduras the early momentum.
Haiti had several quality chances in the first half, but Donis Escobar stood tall in goal to keep Haiti off the board going into halftime. San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Marvin Chavez came on for Roger Rojas in the 53rd minute, and would soon take full advantage of his opportunity. Having done his part with the assist, Mario Martinez made way for Alexander Lopez in the 69th.
Looking for some insurance, Honduras put the game away in the 77th minute on a goal by Chavez. A pass from the right side by Brayan Beckeles found Chavez in the middle of the box. The Earthquakes-man made no mistake, scoring his fourth international goal on a low one timer shot to secure the three points. Honduras would keep a shutout and take the game 2-0.
The second round of games for Group B takes place on Friday at Sun Life Stadium in Miami. Trinidad and Tobago and Haiti will battle for some badly needed points at 7 p.m. EDT, while the fierce rivalry between El Salvador and Honduras kicks off at 9:30 p.m. EDT.