More than 10,000 fans braved inclement weather on Tuesday night and suffered through a lightning delay of more than two hours for the final night of group play in the 2021 Gold Cup at Exploria Stadium. Fans of Costa Rica, Jamaica, Panama, and Grenada piled into the downtown stadium to see their national teams do battle in meaningful competition.
Costa Rica and Jamaica squared off in the early match with the top of Group C on the line. Winning the group would mean avoiding the United States in the Gold Cup quarterfinals and bragging rights in the group, although both teams already were through to the knockout stage. Jamaica was the better team for most of the night but just couldn’t find a breakthrough, even when Costa Rica went down to 10 men for the final 25 minutes or so. Bryan Ruiz provided the only offense in the match and the Ticos beat the Reggae Boyz to capture Group C.
The match was an endurance test, with rain throughout and a delay that began just over two minutes after the opening whistle and lasted more than two hours.
In the late match — literally late, starting at 11:30 p.m. — two teams took the pitch knowing they were already eliminated from the knockout stage. Panama had a sizable following in the stands to see their team face perhaps the best-dressed side in the tournament — Grenada. The Spice Boys may have had the fancier, more vibrant kits, but they entered the match without having earned a point or even scored a goal in the event, having suffered a pair of 4-0 losses.
And Panama was the better side all night. The Canaleros hounded Grenada’s goal and built a 3-0 lead throughout the match that could have been even more. But Grenada showed good resolve to fight back and score its first and only goal of the 2021 Gold Cup late to take some consolation from the game.
Fans piled out of Exploria Stadium in the wee hours of Wednesday morning having seen some exciting soccer and perhaps having soaked up a few pounds of water in their clothing.
We hope you enjoy these images from the final group play night of the 2021 Gold Cup at Exploria Stadium:
Images: Dan MacDonald
Words: Michael Citro