ORLANDO, Fla. – As Haiti struggled to cope with Brazil during a 7-1 thrashing on Wednesday night, Soni Mustivar quite literally couldn’t do anything about it.
Mustivar, a frequent starter in Sporting Kansas City’s midfield, still hasn’t seen the pitch during his tour for Les Grenadiers in the nation’s first-ever Copa America appearance.
That happens in international football, when players’ abilities don’t mesh with managers’ perceptions or tactical visions. But it makes nights like this muggy one at Camping World Stadium even more difficult to take.
“I want to help,” Mustivar said after the match that eliminated his team from quarterfinal contention. “I always want to play and I help my country, I help the players. And when you’re on the bench and you see your guys, your teammates struggling, for sure it’s a frustration.”
Starting out in a defensive 4-1-4-1, Haiti’s slim chances at a shock result suffered a mighty blow when Philippe Coutinho scored the first of his hat trick only 14 minutes in, and were probably put to bed with the Brazilian’s second 15 minutes later.
It was 3-0 by halftime, and the deficit was five before James Marcelin scored on a 70th-minute rebound to give the large Haitian contingent within a crowd of 28,241 a reason to erupt.
“All the fans who came here to the stadium were amazing,” Mustivar said. “They stay with us even when we take four goals or five. And I appreciate that.”
Said Marcelin: “I’m just blessed, happy, to score against Brazil. That’s something that I’m going to remember.”
Haiti were permitted a quarter of an hour to bask in the glow of that bittersweet accomplishment before Renato Augusto scored his second in the 86th minute, and Coutinho added his third on a 22-yard curler in second-half stoppage time.
“It is going to be extremely difficult,” he said through a translator. “How can you fight with a loss that has been so big?”
Mustivar would like to be part of the answer to that question. He’s not sure he will be.
“I don’t know,” he said. “That’s a question you have to ask the coach.”