Three Points: Costa Rica v El Salvador

Costa Rica's Junior Diaz (red jersey) in CONCACAF Gold Cup action against Jamaica on July 8, 2015, in Carson, California. (Photo: Mexsport)

HOUSTON, Texas – Saturday’s CONCACAF Gold Cup Group B doubleheader at BBVA Stadium concludes with an all-Central American matchup between 2014 FIFA World Cup quarterfinalist Costa Rica and El Salvador.

Here are Three Points to consider ahead of the game:

1) For both teams, a result is vital
Costa Rica entered the 2015 Gold Cup as a favorite to take first place in Group B. However, after a 2-2 draw with Jamaica in its opening match, the group now appears wide open. Conversely, El Salvador now sees a path to the tournament quarterfinals following a 0-0 draw with Canada. While the Ticos will be eager for maximum points, a draw would suit the Cuscatlecos just fine heading in to their final group stage against Jamaica.

2) History is mixed, but favors the Ticos
Though Costa Rica holds a significant advantage in all-time meetings with El Salvador (Wins: CRC 36, SLV 12, plus 10 draws), the sides have each produced a win to go along with a draw in three Gold Cup encounters. Their last Gold Cup tilt, four years ago, ended in a 1-1 draw. Costa Rica’s Randall Brenes salvaged the result with a goal in the fifth minute of second-half stoppage time after Rodolfo Zelaya gave the Cuscatlecos a lead at the stroke of halftime.

3) Expect improved performances from Ruiz, Costa Rica defense
If Costa Rica going to recapture its sensational World Cup and Central American Cup form from 2014, it will need to see increased production from their talisman, attacker Bryan Ruiz, as well as improved play in their defensive third. When Ruiz is at his playmaking best and the defense is organized and compact, Costa Rica has proven itself capable of playing with the best teams in the world. In the opener against Jamaica, however, Ruiz’s influence was limited and the defense was exposed at times.