Canada and El Salvador missed the chance to go top of Group B, playing out a 0-0 draw at the CONCACAF Gold Cup on Wednesday.
In the second match of a double-header at Los Angeles Galaxy’s StubHub Center, neither the tournament co-hosts nor the Salvadorians could find the breakthrough – meaning Canada have won just one of their previous nine Gold Cup fixtures.
Orlando City striker Cyle Larin provided the moment of the match in the 36th minute, as he broke well clear of the El Salvador defence, rounded goalkeeper Derby Carrillo – and with an empty net beckoning, put the ball into Row Z.
It would have been a goal against the grain, as El Salvador’s fleet-footed XI cut through the Canadians at will, while Benito Floro’s men took a more physical approach.
That physicality saw numerous players hit the turf throughout the 90 minutes, although referee Oscar Moncada was not always obliging to call the foul – notably waving away a penalty appeal in the 70th minute from Irvin Herrera, who appeared to be caught on the foot by David Edgar.
The first half was highlighted by Larin’s shocking miss, but it was El Salvador who enjoyed the better of the chances – with early substitute Herrera in the thick of the action.
After Nelson Bonilla was twice stretchered from the pitch – eventually for good in the 10th minute – after copping a stray boot to the head, Herrera came on as his replacement, and he proved the main threat to Canada’s defence.
Canada had not conceded in four matches coming into their tournament opener, although Herrera first threatened to break that streak when he fired a powerful shot from the left side of the area in the 25th minute – only to be denied by the knees of goalkeeper Kenny Stamatopoulos.
Herrera then was the beneficiary of some fruitful El Salvador pressing, forcing a Canada turnover deep in the North Americans’ defence – before the forward unleashed a powerful shot, but it was at a comfortable height for Stamatopoulos.
Larin went on to put his bid in for highlight reels with his miss, before Canada somehow managed to keep their sheet clean despite more El Salvador dominance.
Richie Menjivar’s dazzling run into the right side of the penalty area in the shadows of half-time should have been rewarded with a goal, his cut-back finding Herrera – whose shot was blocked.
The danger was not clear, however, and Stamatopoulos was fortunate he did not concede as he punched a high ball poorly when a catch was the required action.
The second half was unremarkable – Tosaint Ricketts almost scoring with an overhead scissor 10 minutes from time was a rare highlight.
The number nine then vented his frustration at the lack of a foul call moments later – heard swearing into an effects mic.
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