ALEX KURIAL - Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Rodney Wallace was victorious on his club's home turf on Tuesday night, as Costa Rica laid down a thumping on Cuba at JELD-WEN Field in Portland.
All four MLS players on the Costa Rica roster got the starting call from head coach Jorge Luis Pinto. Roy Miller of the New York Red Bulls featured on defense, while the Timbers' Wallace took his spot in midfield. Forwards Jairo Arrieta of the Columbus Crew and Real Salt Lake's Alvaro Saborio started up front.
Cuba managed to hold Costa Rica scoreless going into halftime, but the Central American side finally broke through after the break. Their first goal in the 52nd minute saw Michael Barrantes drill a shot home from the top of the box. Cuban goalie Odelin Molina got a hand to it, but momentum carried the ball into the net for a 1-0 Costa Rica lead.
Wallace left to a large ovation from his Portland crowd in the 58th minute. Soon after in the 71st minute it was Arrieta with a goal to open up a two goal lead. A pass by Kenny Cunningham from the right side of the box was flicked on net by Arrieta, resulting in a save. Arrieta stayed with the shot though and chipped his rebound past Molina, who lay helpless from the initial save. This was Arrieta's fourth international goal, all of which have come in 2013.
With the victory secure, Costa Rica put the icing on the cake in the 77th minute courtesy of Barrantes' second goal of the game. Coming up the left side, Barrantes let fly a curling shot that found its way just inside the near post. Saborio departed two minutes later with a healthy cushion, and Costa Rica got maximum result with the 3-0 win.
With the first round of group stage games complete, MLS players have combined for seven goals. This represents over a third of the tournament's total goal count of 20, and leads all domestic leagues. Furthermore, all five teams to have an MLS player score have won or tied their game. San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski holds the Gold Cup scoring lead after his hat trick against Belize in a 6-1 U.S. win on Tuesday night.
The Gold Cup takes a break on Wednesday, but picks up again Thursday when six straight days of games starts with Group A action from Seattle.