MLS stars in fine form as Copa Centroamericana kicks off
The Copa Centroamericana, Central America's top international competition, kicked off on Friday evening in San José, Costa Rica, with a fine showing from the MLS representatives sprinkled across the rosters of the seven participating nations.
Defender Víctor Bernárdez (San Jose), midfielders Boniek García (Houston) and Mario Martínez (Seattle), and forward Jerry Bengtson (New England) all started in Honduras' opener against El Salvador. Bengtson netted the go-ahead goal in the 75th minute with a tidy settle and finish, but El Salvador pulled one back just two minutes later, and both sides settled for a 1-1 draw.
The tie left Group B wide open, with Panama – who will look to FC Dallas forward Blas Pérez for goals – yet to play and set to their campaign against El Salvador on Sunday.
In the late game of the evening, forwards Jairo Arrieta (Columbus) and Álvaro Saborío (Real Salt Lake) started up top for Costa Rica in their opener against Belize while Portland full back Rodney Wallace entered as a 65th minute substitute.
Arrieta netted the lone goal of the game 10 minutes after halftime, smashng home a loose ball to hand the home side a 1-0 win and leadership of Group A, which also contains Guatemala and Nicaragua, on a point apiece after their 1-1 draw.
The only MLS player on a tournament roster that looks unlikely to see the field is San Jose's Honduran winger Marvin Chávez, who is set to miss the proceedings through injury.
The top two teams in each group will advance to the semifinals of the tournament and this summer's CONCACAF Gold Cup, while the two third-placed teams will square off for Central America's fifth and final Gold Cup berth.