Los Angeles Soccer: Joel Campbell
Group A favorites Mexico and Costa Rica were big winners in Texas tournament openers as day one of the CONCACAF Gold Cup failed to provide much in the way of competition.
Both romped to 5-0 victories Sunday in front of 80,000-plus at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, to take command of the group, setting up already a June 12 showdown in the group finale in Chicago.
A quick look at the first day of group play in the region's nations championship:
CHICHA-GOL-GOL-GOL: Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez capped Mexico's 5-0 drilling of El Salvador with a hat trick -- his 15th, 16th and 17th international goals, in just 24 appearances -- but things were far tighter than that suggests.
El Tri didn't score until a fortunate bounce off Efrain Juarez provided a 55th-minute lead, and they netted three more in the next 12 minutes.
Worth noting: Aldo de Nigris tallied less than a minute after coming on as a second-half substitute, and Hernandez wrapped his trio with a penalty kick deep in stoppage after El Salvador's Marvin Gonzalez was red-carded for bowling him over.
TICOS TOO FAST: Costa Rica's 5-0 rout of Cuba was even more emphatic, with the Ticos repeatedly sprinting past the islanders' backline and making the runs count.
All five goals came on quick counterattacks, the last four from through balls or passes over the top that left, in order, Real Salt Lake's Alvaro Saborio, Marcos Ureņa (with his second of the evening), Heiner Mora and Mora again one-on-one with Cuban goalkeeper Odelin Molina.
The finale was the goal of the night, with Joel Campbell smashing Mora's cross first-time from an abrupt angle into the top corner at the far post.
DAY 2 HIGHLIGHT: Jamaica and Honduras both have designs on semifinal berths or better. Expect them to impress like Mexico and Costa Rica, be disappointed if they don't.
- THE GAMES
Group A (at Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas)
Costa Rica 5 (Ureņa 9, 46, Saborio 41, Mora 47, Campbell 71), Cuba 0
Mexico 5 (Juarez 55, de Nigris 58, J. Hernandez 60, 67, pen. 93+)
Group B (at Home Depot Center, Carson)
Jamaica vs. Grenada, 6 p.m. TV: Galavision
Honduras vs. Guatemala, 8 p.m. TV: TeleFutura (KFTR/Channel 46)
Group C (at Ford Field, Detroit)
Panama vs. Guadeloupe, 3 p.m. TV: Galavision
United States vs. Canada, 5 p.m. TV: Fox Soccer Channel and TeleFutura (KFTR/Channel 46)