Haiti defeated Guatemala, 1-0, in the first match of the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship Wednesday evening at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas. Haiti and the United States, which defeated Trinidad & Tobago, 1-0, in the second match of the tournament’s opening day, sit tied atop Group A. The top two teams from each group advance to the semifinals.
Guatemala almost converted from the penalty spot in the 17th minute after Haitian goalkeeper Cynthia Chery mishandled a long free kick and saw straight red after bringing down Guatemala’s Ana Martinez in the area. Geralda Saintilus, Haiti’s usual number one, stepped up to face the penalty kick from Marylin Rivera and parried the shot wide. Going down a player seemed to rally Haiti for the rest of the half as they pressed to create scoring chances. However, Guatemala nearly scored on the stroke of halftime but Daniela Andrade’s header off a cross in from the right flank hit the crossbar.
Both teams saw key scoring chances go wanting in the second half. Guatemala’s Maria Monterroso nearly curled a free kick in to the far post in the 67th minute but hit the bar while Haiti nearly answered on a through ball to Lindsay Zullo.
Haiti broke through in the 69th minute after a free kick into the box resulted in a loose-ball scrum in which Zullo got the final touch to push it across the line. Haiti bunkered in for the final 20 minutes of the match as players succumbed to fatigue and went down to nine players due to injury but held on for the country’s first win in this edition of the tournament.
Haiti’s Manoucheka Pierre-Louis and Samantha Brand caused havoc for the Guatemalan defense on the flanks. Haiti was unable to create scoring opportunities in the middle of the park, but Pierre-Louis and Brand on the outside looked to take on their defenders and create chances using their speed. Meanwhile, Andrade, Guatemala’s right back, matched the pace of her Haitian counterparts and showed the ability to play good balls in from the flank, providing several crosses the Guatemalan forwards were unable to finish.
Going forward, Haiti will need to continue to track back and get numbers around the ball. After going down to 10 players, Haiti didn’t park the bus. Rather, the squad kept to its philosophy of getting back and finding their marks after losing the ball. It worked well, as Guatemala didn’t have many clean looks in the attacking third. Against Trinidad & Tobago and the United States, Haiti will need to stay committed to that philosophy to get results.
Guatemala faces the United States on Friday evening in Chicago and could be eliminated from the semifinals before playing its final match — unless Trinidad & Tobago can take all three points from Haiti, which also plays on Friday. Guatemala will need to have better connecting play through the midfield and take advantage of set-piece opportunities, which it failed to do against Haiti.