Costa Rica vs. French Guiana | 2017 Gold Cup Match Preview
Costa Rica vs. French Guiana
2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup - Group A, Matchday 3
Toyota Stadium - Frisco, Texas
Friday, July 14 – 7:30 pm ET
WATCH: FS1, UniMás, UDN
If a soccer game is played, but events beforehand could render it completely irrelevant, does it really matter? That is the sticky existential question at the heart of Group A's matchday 3 showdown between Costa Rica and French Guiana.
Coming into the game, Costa Rica are still able to qualify for the knockout stage in the Gold Cup, second to surprise Group A leader Canada. But after French Guiana played Florent Malouda, despite the former Chelsea star being deemed ineligible by CONCACAF, in Tuesday's 0-0 draw against Honduras, the game was ruled a 3-0 forfeit win for Honduras, and Malouda was issued a two-game ban, with a stadium ban seemingly intended to prevent him from setting foot on the field again.
Assuming French Guiana take no further steps to continue the saga, this final group stage game will leave all to play for in the case of the Ticos and little on the line for French Guiana.
The Ticos entered the Gold Cup as the only country to be given much of a shot of winning the Gold Cup aside from Mexico and the US, and so far, their performances have left a lot to be desired. Of course, they've picked up a win and a draw and again are in a good spot to advance ahead of the final matchday. But they've only scored two goals, and while they played better in their second game, a 1-1 draw against Canada on Tuesday, the fact that they did not roll over a Les Rouges side just embarking on another rebuilding project is at least somewhat concerning.
Still, when it comes to tournament play, often getting through the group stage is enough, and title-winning sides either turn it on in the knockout stages or they grind out results. This group may be gearing up to continue the grind, and if they win big, they could still finish in first place in the group when it truly counts.
COSTA RICA 23-PLAYER SQUAD
Goalkeepers (3): Dany Carvajal (Saprissa), Leonel Moreira (Herediano), Patrick Pemberton (Alajuelense)
Defenders (9): Johnny Acosta (Herediano), Francisco Calvo (Minnesota United FC / USA), Christian Gamboa (Celtic / SCO), Giancarlo Gonzalez (Palermo / ITA), Kenner Guiterrez (Alajuelense), Bryan Oviedo (Sunderland / ENG), Jose Salvatierra (Alajuelense), Michael Umaña (unattached), Juan Pablo Vargas (Herediano)
Midfielders (7): Randall Azofeifa (Herediano), Joel Campbell (Arsenal / ENG), David Guzman (Portland Timbers / USA), Bryan Ruiz (Sporting CP / POR), Ulises Segura (Saprissa), Yeltsin Tejeda (FC Lausanne-Sport / SUI), Rodney Wallace (New York City FC / USA)
Manager: Oscar Ramirez (Costa Rica)
So here we are. Malouda's involvement may drive the headlines for this team, and understandably so, since teams very rarely knowingly field players ruled ineligible. Given French Guiana head coach Jair Karam's explanation that playing Malouda, by far the most prominent player on the team, was an effort to take a principled stand regarding FIFA and CONCACAF eligibility for dual nationals, this whole situation could prove to be an important test case in soccer history. But all that will have to happen in the future, off the field. For now, we have this game, thrown into considerable uncertainty.
Following CONCACAF's ruling to make the 0-0 draw a 3-0 forfeit win for Honduras, the player with the best case to feel aggrieved will likely be goalkeeper Donovan Leon. The Brest goalkeeper made seven saves on Tuesday, several of the impressive variety, and if Costa Rica are goal-shy again, Leon could be the difference in the match played.
FRENCH GUIANA 23-PLAYER SQUAD
Goalkeepers (3): Donovan Leon (Stade Brestois 29 / FRA), Simon Lugier (US Saint-Malo / FRA), Jean-Banuel Petit-Homme (US Matoury)
Defenders (7): Inrick Baal (CSC de Cayenne), Jean-David Legrand (Stade Bordelais / FRA), Gregory Lescot (FC Chartres / FRA), Kevin Rimane (Paris Saint-Germain / FRA), Hugues Rosime (US Matoury), Anthony Soubervie (FC Chambly / FRA), Marvin Torvic (US Matoury)
Midfielders (6): Loic Baal (ASM Belfort / FRA), Ludovic Baal (Stade Rennais / FRA), Marc Edwige (CSC de Cayenne), Cedric Fabien (Tarbes Pyrenees Football / FRA), Miguel Haabo (AS Etoile Matoury), Florent Malouda (Delhi Dynamos / IND)
Forwards (7): Arnold Abelinto (JA Drancy / FRA), Roy Contout (Renaissance de Berkane / MAR), Schaquille Dutard (Guingamp / FRA), Rhudy Evens (US Matoury), Jules Haabo (AS Etoile Matoury), Sloan Privat (Guingamp / FRA), Mickael Solvi (US Matoury)
Manager: Jair Karam (French Guiana)