Gold Cup: Costa Rica coach Paulo Wanchope takes the high road: "I don't look for excuses"

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Penalty or no penalty? That is a question that is being debated feverishly following Mexico’s thrilling, but controversial 1-0 win over Costa Rica in the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals in front of 74,187 at MetLife Stadium Sunday night.

While his players remonstrated after the call by assistant referee Eric Boria after there was minimal contact by Roy Miller on Oribe Perlata in the dying seconds of extra time, and after the clinical penalty kick by Andres Guardado to send El Tri into the semifinals, Costa Rican coach Paulo Wanchope chose the high road.

“They are human,” Wanchope said. “They saw something in the area and that’s why they called the penalty.”

It was the second referee decision that went Mexico’s way in a spirited extra time. Peralta was also fortunate not to be sent off for a challenge from behind in the 113th minute. He was given a yellow card.

Still, Wanchope declined to blame the officiating for the emotional defeat.

“I’m not creating speculation,” he said. “I am hurt, the players were hurt. I don’t look for excuses. We are out, but we’ll go into the future now.”

Mexico, which pushed and probed offensively throughout the match, were without Giovani dos Santos, who was sidelined with an adductor injury suffered in the team’s final group stage match against Trinidad & Tobago. On Sunday, the LA Galaxy attacker warmed up briefly, but returned to the bench.

“We wanted to see how he felt,” Herrera said. “I told him to warm up as if he was about to go into the game. He did and did not feel confident. That is why he went back to the bench.”

Herrera said he is taking a wait and see approach when it comes to dos Santos’ availability for Wednesday’s semifinal against Panama, which advanced 6-5 in a penalty kick shootout after playing Trinidad & Tobago to a 1-1 draw in the other quarterfinal Sunday.

“We will have to keep working on him, see how he feels,” Herrera said. “If he’s 100 percent, then there’s no doubt he’ll go in. If he doesn’t, then he will not.”

Dos Santos isn’t the only injury concern for the six-time Gold Cup champions. Herrera said defender Yasser Corona hurt his knee when a Costa Rican player fell on his leg and they will await the medical report on him.