Canada earned their first victory of the CONCACAF Gold Cup with a 2-1 victory over Cuba in Group B action. The win was not enough to earn Canada a place in the second round, as they finished third among the third place finishers in the group stages.
Ali Gerba (69th minute) and Atiba Hutchinson (87th minute) put Canada on their way before Alain Cervantes' late effort in stoppage time made for a nervous finish.
Canada put the ball in the net in the 28th minute, but Gerba's strike was ruled out for offside. Gerba did all the hard work to tap past Cuban 'keeper Alexis Rene Aviles, but his mistimed run was adjudged to fall in behind the Cuban backline before the ball.
Former Metrostar draftee Olivier Occean could have scored after 31 minutes. His run down the left flank created a shot just wide of the near post, spurning a golden chance for Canada's first goal of the competition.
Gerba had another chance in the 35th minute on a cross by San Jose forward Dwayne De Rosario. The curling ball found Gerba, but the chance went begging.
Both sides struggled to carve out any chances in the second half, with Canada looking the stronger of the two sides.
Occean shot directly at Aviles on 62 minutes after the Canadians combined well at the top of the penalty arc.
Aviles rushed off his line in the 68th minute to deny the onrushing Gerba, forcing the Canadian striker to smash his effort off the Cuban 'keeper's knees.
Finally, the Canadians broke through in the 69th minute. It was Gerba who tallied Canada's first goal of the competition, tapping substitute Josh Simpson's cross past an onrushing Aviles to open the scoring.
Gerba missed a glorious chance to double his tally in the 81st minute. Standing unmarked at the six-yard box after good work by De Rosario down the left flank, Gerba struck his effort at Aviles.
Goalkeeper Greg Sutton saved the Canada in the 84th minute, as Lester More drove past the Canadian defense with a determined run only to be denied by the acrobatics of Sutton. On the resulting corner, Sutton dived to his right to deny a long effort by Jaime Colome.
Canada doubled their advantage in the 87th minute, as Atiba Hutchinson's 22-yard strike found the lower right corner of the Cuban net.
Cuba scored a late consolation goal in stoppage time, as Alain Cervantes poked home after Sutton had denied More's attempt at goal.
Kyle McCarthy is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
CAN - Ali Gerba 69'
CAN - Atiba Hutchinson 87'
CUB - Alain Cervantes 90+2'
Canada (4-4-2) - Greg Sutton; Adam Braz, Chris Pozniak, Kevin McKenna, Gabriel Gervais; Patrice Bernier, Sandro Grande (Jaime Peters 56'), Atiba Hutchinson, Dwyane DeRosario; Ali Gerba, Olivier Occean
Cuba (4-4-2) - Alexis Rene Aviles; Silvio Pedro Minoso (Jensis Munoz 77'), Alexander Cruzata, Jaime Colome, Reysander Fernandez; Yenier Marquez, Enrique Villaurrutia (Pedro Adriani Faife 59'), Gisbel Morales, Alain Cervantes; Mario Gil (Leonel Duartes 25'), Lester More
CAN - Atiba Hutchinson (caution) 45+1
Referee: Roberto Moreno;
Referee's Assistants: Daniel Williamson, Anthony Garwood
4th Official: Neil Brizan
Weather: Sunny, 71 degrees