In a Gold Cup Group C match setting the stage for Tuesday's Costa Rica-Jamaica showdown, Costa Rica outlasted Suriname 2-1 at Exploria Stadium in Orlando on Friday night, in an entertaining match closer than some might have predicted given the teams' recent resumes.
The match started out relatively subdued, though Costa Rica (and Chicago Fire) defender Francisco Calvo tried to put some sizzle into the match with a 19th-minute shot from distance that just floated a bit too high. Neither team did much to trouble the goalkeepers through the first half-hour-plus, though Suriname did trouble some Ticos field players, to the tune of yellow cards for Ridgeciano Haps and Ryan Donk.
Ariel Rodriguez had a chance in the 35th minute in front of goal, but what was either a botched shot or a botched outlet pass to Joel Campbell rolled timidly in front of goal and Suriname was able to clear the danger.
Suriname actually had the best chance of the first half, with Sheraldo Becker steaming down the left wing in the 40th minute, taking a shot himself rather than feeding Concacaf Nations League Top Scorer Award winner Gleofilo Vlijter. Though Esteban Alvarado looked a little awkward stopping the shot, he was able to keep Becker from scoring.
Alvarado had another awkward moment three minutes later, charging toward the 18 to meet Florian Jozefzoon and colliding with him, leading to a free kick from a dangerous spot at the edge of the box close to where the collision happened. However, Jozefoon went wide of goal on his free kick, and they went to the locker rooms knotted at zero.
However, Vlijter got Suriname on the scoreboard seven minutes after the break, collecting a pass from Damil Dankerlui with his back to goal, then turning and firing a shot that found the mark.
Costa Rica answered the bell six minutes later, with FC Cincinnati's Ronald Matarrita setting up veteran forward Joel Campbell for the equalizing header. Then, a minute later, Celso Borges doubled Costa Rica's lead.
Another MLS player, Suriname and Inter Miami's Kelvin Leerdam, nearly equalized in the 63rd minute in a skirmish in front of goal. Then, Suriname earned a free kick at the edge of the box on a Calvo yellow-carded foul, but couldn't convert the chance.
Borges then had a chance, in the 74th minute, to secure an insurance goal at the end of a well-worked Ticos sequence, but was wide with his attempt. Campbell similarly had a chance in the 77th minute, but he was well-defended and pulled his shot high.
But Borges saved a goal the other way in the 84nd minute, with Ivenzo Comvalius sending a shot goalward that he headed off the line.
But then Costa Rica had to weather going down a man in the closing moments, as Calvo got sent off for some pre-corner kick extracurriculars with Donk. His replacement, MLS veteran Kendall Waston, got a yellow card for entering the field of play too early, slotting in for Campbell to try to help the defense hold on.
Suriname had two more chances to equalize, with Comvalius cracking a shot against the post in the third minute of stoppage time, and on a last-gasp corner kick attempt that didn't produce the magic they sought.
- 52' — SUR — Gleofilo Vlijter.
- 58' — CRC — Joel Campbell
- 59' — CRC — Celso Borges
- THE BIG PICTURE: Costa Rica got the win and know they’re on to the quarterfinals, but losing both Calvo and Waston for the match with Jamaica — plus Costa Rica’s uneven play throughout — has to make Reggae Boyz fans confident for the showdown Tuesday in Orlando. Though Suriname couldn’t extend their run of meaningful matches beyond this one, they looked worthy of being at the tournament, and could build from this to grow into the kind of team that could sneak into the federation’s final eight come World Cup qualifying time.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Though the goals were all spectacular moments, Borges’ goal-line clearance turned a moment that could have gone either way into one that favored the Ticos.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Borges made a good account of himself by bagging a goal and saving a goal, but Campbell scored the opener and was a consistent offensive threat pulling nearly a full shift on the field.
- SUR: Tuesday, July 20 vs. Guadeloupe | 7 pm ET | FS2, Galavision | Concacaf Gold Cup group stage
- CRC: Tuesday, July 20 vs. Jamaica | 7 pm ET | FS1, TUDN | Concacaf Gold Cup group stage