Costa Rica rode an early penalty strike to victory over a young Canadian side in Edmonton.Costa Rica scored an early goal and held on for a 1-0 win over Canada at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium on Tuesday night.
The friendly match, dominated by inexperienced players on both teams, was disjointed at times as new teammates on either squad familiarized themselves with one another. The result was a match littered with missed chances. Striker Jairo Arrieta the only one able to find the goal -- on a penalty, no less.
Canada controlled much of the play in the opening quarter hour, but it was Arrieta to strike in the 16th minute. The Costa Rican attacker earned a penalty when 18-year-old Samuel Piette was judged to have taken him down at the top of the Canadian 18-yard box. Arrieta stepped up himself and slotted the ball to Milan Borjan's right for the 1-0 Ticos lead.
The goal led to some energetic play from the Canadians as they looked for the equalizer. They nearly got one almost immediately after the restart as Issey Nakajima-Farran put a shot just over the bar about a minute after Arrieta had opened the scoring.
Nakajima-Farran would continue to play impressively down the left flank, as would Randy Edwini-Bonsu on the opposite end. Edwini-Bonsu terrorized the Costa Rican defenders down the right side of the field, with the 23-year-old using his blistering pace to get behind the opposition repeatedly.
Unfortunately for Canada, the recurrent problem was in the final third, as the home side lacked the killer pass or accurate shooting required to claw back into the game.
The halftime break seemed to energize both teams, as the first 15 minutes of the second half saw end-to-end action that could have resulted in multiple goals if not for some unfortunate finishing.
Edwini-Bonsu was once again the catalyst, as his efforts led to a number of chances for his teammates. The hometown boy ran out of gas around the hour mark, however, and he was subbed off without seeing his hard work rewarded.
Canada continued to press, and in the 73rd minute the officials judged Nik Ledgerwood as being a bit too aggressive as he and Costa Rican fullback Christopher Meneses were sent off following an altercation. Ledgerwood had slid in hard on a charging Meneses, and although the Canadian appeared to have won the ball cleanly, the ensuing tangle of bodies was enough to have both players ejected from the match.
With more space on the field, the Canadians opened up the play. It almost backfired, as a turnover led to a Costa Rican attack in the 80th minute that was once again thwarted by poor shooting.
Undeterred, Canada pushed forward for almost the entire final 10 minutes, with each wave a frustrating display of ineptitude in the opposition area. Even Borjan got into the act, with the goalkeeper coming up for a couple of corner kicks in added time.
The final chance of the night fell to Doneil Henry, with the 20-year-old centre back meeting a Kyle Bekker delivery at the Costa Rican 6-yard box. As he had done a handful of other times during the match, he headed the cross just wide, ending Canada's frustrating night in front of goal.
The Canadians will regroup in roughly a month's time ahead of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, but it is expected that many changes will be made to the squad ahead of that tournament. Until then, the players from Tuesday's loss will either head home for vacation or continue with their club seasons.