BMO Field (pictured) in Toronto will be the venue for Canada's first-ever CONCACAF Gold Cup home game, which will be played on July 14, 2015, against Costa Rica. (Photo: Mexsport)
TORONTO -- Group B play concludes on Tuesday night as Canada hosts Costa Rica in its first-ever CONCACAF Gold Cup home game. It is an encounter rife with quarterfinal implications.
Here are Three Points to consider ahead of the game:
1) Home-field advantage
For the first time in its history, Canada will play in a Gold Cup match on home soil. Having already hosted the FIFA Women’s World Cup and with the Pan American Games now underway, Canada’s summer of soccer continues Tuesday at BMO Field. The home support could not come at a better time for the Canadians — under the direction of manager Benito Floro — find themselves in need of maximum points to have any hope of progressing. Advancement or elimination is only 90 minutes away for the host. Will the fans be the difference?
2) Can Canada get going offensively?
The biggest impediment to Canadian success so far at the 2015 Gold Cup has been an inability to put the ball in the back of the net. Solid in defense and midfield, Les Rouges have found goals difficult to come by, failing to score in either of their first two outings. Averaging a respectable nine shots per match, the Canadians haven’t suffered from a lack of opportunities as much as much as a lack of efficiency in front of goal. With plenty of attacking talent in the form of Cyle Larin and Tosaint Ricketts, Canada will need to step up and make the most of its opportunities or risk elimination.
3) Ruiz v De Guzman
If past is prologue, the two player’s most critical to their team’s success on Tuesday night could be Bryan Ruiz and Julian De Guzman – the captain’s of Costa Rica and Canada, respectively. Both men have worn the armband with distinction over the years and the CONCACAF veterans are no stranger to the bright lights of Gold Cup play. Ruiz, who recently joined Sporting Lisbon, is featuring in his third Gold Cup. De Guzman, the first Canadian to ever feature in Spain’s La Liga, was the MVP of the 2007 Gold Cup. While Ruiz enjoys an attack-minded role for Ticos, De Guzman prefers to operate in a more holding capacity, providing the midfield steel for a Canadian team that prides itself on defensive fortitude. Their match-up will be a crucial element of Tuesday night’s encounter.
• Canada is the only team other than Mexico or the United States to have ever lifted the Gold Cup trophy (2000).
• Costa Rica are 0-2-2 in its last four CONCACAF Gold Cup matches.