CARSON, Calif. -- Cyle Larin certainly would have liked a do-over after he shanked a shot well off target while staring at an empty net late in the first half of Canada's CONCACAF Gold Cup opener.
Larin's miss, on something of a can't-miss opportunity, proved costly as the Canadians claimed just a point from their Group B showdown with El Salvador on Wednesday night at StubHub Center.
“That happens once in your career,” the Orlando City SC striker said following the 0-0 draw. “I guess this time it happened to me.”
It was the only strong scoring chance Canada created in the first half against the Salvadorans, whose counterattack largely defined the encounter. A win was also the road to three points and, after Costa Rica and Jamaica drew in the opener of the doubleheader, the top spot in the group.
Larin got his chance in the 36th minute, after a Salvadoran clearance was volleyed back toward the Central Americans' box from midfield, leaving the 20-year-old forward streaking one-on-one toward goalkeeper Derby Carrillo.
Larin has a knack for finding the net, as he demonstrated at the University of Connecticut, where he tallied 23 times in two seasons, and with Orlando City, which made him the No. 1 selection in this year's MLS SuperDraft.
He's got six goals in 13 appearances for the Lions, and none of them were easier than this one should have been. Larin dribbled to the top of the box, cut right to beat Carrillo, and all he had to do was roll the ball into the net. He likely could have dribbled it in.
“The ball got away from it,” he said. “Touched the ball with the outside of my foot, the ball just spinned away from me, and I just didn't get the right connection on it. ... The ball bounced weird, and I didn't get around it, so that's all that happened.
“It happens. It happens to every striker, and just have to go on to the next game and make sure I finish a chance.”
El Salvador had more scoring opportunities, but Canada's defense was up to the task, denying them clear chances after some dynamic buildups en route to a fifth successive shutout. Larin knows what his goal would have meant.
“Put one away,” he noted, “we can hold that lead.”
His coach took it in stride.
“The missed shot by Larin is part of the game,” Spaniard Benito Floro said through a translator. “He just miskicked the ball, and it happens.”
“Everybody misses chances, you know?” said Tesho Akindele, who usually plays up front for FC Dallas but was in midfield in Canada's 4-1-4-1 formation. “After he misses a chance like that, people are like, 'What do you say to him?' But there's nothing you can say to him. He knows he missed it.
“It happens to everyone, and he knows we have his back.”
Target striker Marcus Haber, who came on for Larin with about 20 minutes to go, had three late chances with headers right at Carrillo, and Tosaint Ricketts nearly tallied after getting just a piece of the ball on a bicycle kick in the 81st minute.
Akindele praised Haber for “some huge headers at the end of the game that, a foot to the right or left of the goalie, would have gone in.” Larin said that had Ricketts “got a connection on [his attempt], it would have scored.”
None of them found the net, and if Floro was pleased with the outcome -- “I would have preferred 2-2 or 3-3,” he said -- Larin was not.
“We left some points sitting out there,” Larin said. “Not happy, but always good to get a point out of this.”