Honduras may be the up and coming power in CONCACAF, but Costa Rica won back the title of kings of Central America.
Geancarlo González scored in the 37th minute to give Los Ticos a 1-0 victory over Los Catrachos in a thrilling final of the Copa Centroamericana on Sunday at Estadio Nacional in San José. It marked the seventh UNCAF title for Costa Rica, who were hosting the tournament for the third time.
Seven MLS players saw time in the final, including Real Salt Lake’s Álvaro Saborío (above), who nearly drew blood inside the first quarter-hour but saw his attempt saved in a sensational performance by Honduras ‘keeper Donis Escobar.
Portland’s Rodney Wallace was also in the Costa Rica starting lineup, while Honduras countered with Houston’s Boniek García, New England’s Jerry Bengtson, San Jose’s Víctor Bernárdez and Seattle’s Mario Martínez. Columbus striker Jairo Arrieta — who ended up the shockingly low-scoring tournament's Golden Boot winner as the only player with two goals — came off the bench for Costa Rica in second-half stoppage time.
In the third-place match, El Salvador dispatched upstarts Belize 1-0 with a 49th-minute goal from Nelson Bonilla. Starting in goal was Los Angeles-area native and former Cal FC goalkeeper Derby Carrillo, who won his first cap for El Salvador.
The Copa Centroamericana doubles as Central America's qualifying tournament for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. As the top five finishers, Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador, Belize and Panama booked spots in this summer's tournament.