The Haiti-Honduras game, the nightcap of a double header involving Trinidad and Tobago versus El Salvador at sold-out Red Bull Arena in Harrison (NJ) when Group B began play in the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, had everything soccer purists crave – including the unexpected as the best playing team in the entire tournament so far, Haiti, lost 2-0.
The sell-out crowd of 25, 486 created a massively colorful tapestry – predominantly of blue and white, the national colors of Honduras and El Salvador – checkered with the red and black of Trinidad and Tobago and the Blue and red of Haiti. The noise was deafening and created an ideal environment for players to excel; the electric atmosphere was added motivation for the players as both Haiti and Honduras exhibited a very high level of technical skills yet to be seen in the tournament.
Haiti, by far, was the cream of the crop on the night; the Haitians’ technical skills, a level above the Hondurans, enhanced by their speed, strength, athleticism, very high work rate and organization, allowed them to completely dominate Honduras, which was kept in the game by a combination of numerous misses by Haiti and a staunch defense led by central defenders, captain Osman Chavez and Johnny Palacios.
The scoring moments for Honduras were few and far apart, but Honduras made good on two of those moments; the first came early, before Haiti went into overdrive, when Peterson Joseph was fouled and stripped of the ball at midfield by Mario Martinez, who ignited Honduras’ quick counterattack that led to Rony Martinez’s goal in the 11th minute. The second scoring moment came in the late stages of the game after Haiti’s Cuban coach, Israel Blake Cantero, made the crucial mistake and substituted danger man Jeff Louis and midfield worker Joseph by the 60th minute; the substitutions disrupted Haiti’s offensive rhythm and alleviated the pressure on Honduras, which was bothered by the aggressive Louis throughout the game. The absence of Louis gave Honduras some breathing space as defender Brayan Beckles overlapped on the right side and sent a low cross for second half substitute Marvin Chavez to tap home for the victory.
If Haiti puts this unfortunate loss behind it, expect wins over Trinidad and Tobago in Miami on Friday, July 12 and versus El Salvador in Houston on Monday, July 15, and a tournament final win is very possible. Trinidad and Tobago plays Honduras on the same night.
Led by Captain Jean Marc Alexandre and goalkeeper Frandy Montrevil, the Haitians have a very balance team with a high level of technical skills at every position; with a team commitment to hard work, Haiti could very well win this tournament. The defense is rock solid, the midfield, led by the high work rate of Joseph, is dominating, and the forward pair of Louis and Leonel Saint Preux are a dangerous combination that could produce much goals throughout the tournament.
Trinidad and Tobago vs. El Salvador
In Monday night’s first game, Trinidad and Tobago and El Salvador played to a 2-2 draw, an outcome fitting of this contest. Both teams created numerous scoring opportunities as the Salvadorans eventually had the edge in possession.
Trinidad opened the scoring in the 11th minute when midfielder Carlos Edwards dribbled into the penalty area and had his deflected pass roll luckily to Keon Daniel, who dribbled in on goal to slip the ball to the left of the on-rushing Salvadorian goalkeeper Dagoberto Portillo Gamero for the score.
Eleven minutes later, El Salvador was rewarded with a foul just outside the Trinidad and Tobago penalty area and midfielder Rodolfo Garcia Zelaya made no mistake in powering his shot high into the upper right corner of the goal, giving the Soca Warriors goalkeeper Marvin Phillip no chance for a save.