ARLINGTON, Texas — With the first 90 minutes of Gold Cup play in the books, Costa Rica showed they came to the CONCACAF tournament ready to offer their best soccer. Los Ticos brushed Cuba aside with ease, beating them 5-0 on Sunday night at Cowboys Stadium.
Still, Ricardo La Volpe’s players are conscious that they haven’t achieved anything yet.
“We were able to beat Cuba thanks to some great collective work, but we still can’t say that we’re the best,” said Costa Rica forward Marcos Ureña, who scored twice against the Cubans. “Now we have to face El Salvador and we have to start thinking about them so that we can get another win and have a chance to reach the next round.”
When asked about their group stage closing match against Mexico — a showdown between the two group favorites and the toughest match for Costa Rica — Ureña felt it would be a mistake to overlook their next rival in order to focus on El Tri.
“We have to play El Salvador first and then we’ll concentrate on our last rival,” he said. “We can’t win any games without playing them first. Mexico has the same chances as we do.”
Real Salt Lake’s Álvaro Saborío, who scored the second goal of the match, echoed Ureña’s cautionary words after the team’s stroll against Cuba and assured that his team can play even better.
“We did the right things today, but didn’t put away most of our chances,” Saborío said. “When you win, the mistakes are easy to hide, but we can do much more than what we showed against Cuba.”
The striker looked dangerous in attack for Costa Rica, something he hadn’t been able to do lately with his club team, Real Salt Lake, where his production had been slowed due to a nagging knee injury.
“We did what we had to do in our first game of the tournament,” Saborío said. “Now we have to take that motivation to the game against El Salvador. We have a great group of players, but we can’t get too confident because it’s just the beginning. The best is yet to come and I know we can achieve great things if we stay focused on winning the next game.”
Another player who impressed for Costa Rica was 18-year-old winger Joel Campbell, who scored what proved to be the most spectacular goal of the evening off a cross from teammate Heiner Mora. Campbell fired a one-time shot off the bounce into the roof of the net from what seemed like an impossible angle.
“Thanks to a great pass I was able to get a good shot on goal that went in,” Campbell said after the match. “This helps my confidence and I hope that the coach keeps counting on me. My teammates are supporting me to be better and better. Costa Rica is not going to get overconfident. We know that there is no small opponent and we have to keep raising our level of play in the Gold Cup.”