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Canada needs a win against Costa Rica to keep going in Gold Cup tournament

Canadian national team soccer players Nik Ledgerwood (left) and Marcel de Jong look on at start of practice in Toronto, Monday, July 13, 2015. Canada plays Costa Rica on Tuesday in a Gold Cup game at BMO Field. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Neil Davidson
July 13, 2015 - 11:53 AM

TORONTO - Canada is hoping history and home-field advantage will help it survive a little longer in the Gold Cup. A goal or two would help as well.

The Canadian men (0-1-1) play Costa Rica (0-0-2) at BMO Field on Tuesday, essentially needing a win to advance to the knockout round of the CONCACAF championship.

"There's a sense of urgency," said Canadian captain Julian de Guzman. "We realize the situation we're in at this point. I mean (Tuesday's) game is pretty much like a final.

"This time we're at home. We'll have the support of our fans," he added.

Canada has not been beaten at BMO Field since a 2-0 loss to Peru in September 2010. The men have gone 6-0-4 there since and have won their last four games in Toronto.

But the last time they lost in Canada was to Costa Rica, 1-0 at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium in May 2013.

Canada is ranked 103rd in the world by FIFA while Costa Rica is No. 41.

Jamaica leads Group B with four points with Costa Rica and El Salvador on two and Canada on one.

The top two teams in each of the three groups as well the two best third-place finishers advance to the quarter-finals.

The Canadian men could win their pool. Or they could exit the tournament, as they did in 2013 when they went 0-2-1 and failed to score.

Two years later, Canada's young strike force still has to find the net.

"The difference-maker has just come down to putting away our chances, because we do get chances," said de Guzman.

Canada's career record against Costa Rica is 5-7-7.

Like Canada, Costa Rica knows a win will open the door to going deeper in the tournament. Favoured to win the group, they have more work to do.

"We remain optimistic," coach Paulo Wanchope said through an interpreter. "We want to advance in what has turned out to be a very tough Gold Cup.

"And as we've seen, other favoured teams have had a rough time as well."

Wanchope, a gangly former striker, played for West Ham and Manchester City among other clubs.

Canada tied El Salvador 0-0 in Carson, Calif., before falling 1-0 on a late goal to Jamaica in Houston. The Costa Ricans drew Jamaica 2-2 and El Salvador 1-1.

No. 76 Jamaica (1-0-1) meets No. 88 El Salvador (0-0-2) in the opener of the Toronto doubleheader, which marks the first time the Gold Cup has come to Canada.

The Canadians will be without defender Nik Ledgerwood and midfielder Samuel Piette, both of whom are suspended due to yellow-card accumulation.

Both Wanchope and Canadian coach Benito Floro politely chided CONCACAF for the compressed tournament schedule, which has seen both teams move from California to Texas to Toronto in a week.

It didn't help that Houston was an oven the day they played.

"It was tough, really, really tough," said defender David Edgar, who reckons he lost weight during the warmup. "But it was the same for both teams."

Floro wants to last as long as possible at the Gold Cup, mostly to get more time to work with his squad ahead of the next round of World Cup qualifying. The championship of CONCACAF, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean, also serves as the only other official competition for Canada.

The Canadian coach was resplendent in a desert-style hat complete with a flap covering his neck from the bright sunshine at practice at Toronto FC's training centre Monday.

The tournament is the first Gold Cup for Floro. The Spaniard was named Canadian coach prior to the 2013 tournament but did not officially take charge until after the tournament. So he watched the 2013 tournament from the stands while Colin Miller served as interim coach.


Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

News from © The Canadian Press, 2015
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