Derrick Etienne Jr. and Haiti completed a perfect group stage, defeating Costa Rica at Red Bull Arena after falling behind early.
Etienne created danger throughout the match, but struggled to finish his chances. The Ticos took an early lead, but the Hatians relied on strong defending and quick counter attacks to keep them in the match. Ultimately, a penalty kick and a late run made the difference on the night as Haiti won 2-1.
In the opening minutes, the Ticos kept steady pressure on Haiti’s backline, and it paid off in the 13th minute. Haiti struggled to clear Ronald Matarrita’s open play cross into the box. Andrew Jean Baptise rose to clear the ball with his head, but his attempt bounced off of Djimy Bend Alexis and into the net. An own goal.
Costa Rica nearly doubled the advantage in the 29th minute. After a Rándall Leal through ball beat Haiti’s backline, Johnny Placide made a challenge on a shot from Allan Cruz. Placide got a touch on the shot, but the ball snuck through bouncing towards goal. Jems Geffrard cleared the ball off the line, keeping the Ticos advantage to one.
Duckens Nazon helped pull the Hatians level in the second half. First he drew a foul in the box from Chicago Fire defender Francisco Calvo. Nazon took the penalty kick himself, firing the ball past Leonel Moreira who guessed the wrong way on the kick.
Etienne helped set up the winning goal in the 81st minute. Etienne carried the ball down the left wing, biding his time waiting for an overlapping run from Alex Christian. Christian quickly fired a cross through the 18-yard box. The cross eluded everyone, eventually finding Djimy Bend Alexis at the back post. From villian to hero, Alexis fired the shot into the net, pushing Haiti into the lead.
Haiti wins group B, and faces Canada in the quarterfinal round this Saturday night at 7pm. It was the first time Haiti won a group at the Gold Cup, going a perfect 3-0-0.
Photo by Bill Twomey Photography