International friendly
Marlboro Cup
Sun. 4 Feb 1990
Kick-off: 
Miami Orange Bowl, 
Miami
Att.: 15,231
Video: goals

Costa Rica 0 – 2 Uruguay
0-1 (8) William Castro (pen.)
0-2 (13) Héctor Marchena (own goal)

Ref.: Vincent Mauro 
L1: Raúl Domínguez
L2: Hellman
(All USA) 

(Twitter thread)

Preview

This was the final in the Miami based issue of the Marlboro Cup, a series of tournaments held annually across various US cities. It was the first of four 1990 such competitions, with the three later versions taking place in Los Angeles (later in February), Chicago (May) and New York (August). 

Four teams had been summoned to this particular mini-tournament, with Colombia and host nation USA participants in addition to the pair which were playing out this final. There had been a pair of semi-finals two days earlier, with these outcomes: 

Colombia 0 – 2 Uruguay (Pedrucci and Castro)
USA 0 – 2 Costa Rica (Cayasso and Díaz)

This had resulted in the losers coming together in the third-place play-off, which took part prior to the final: 

USA 1 – 1 Colombia (Wynaldo – Fajardo)
Colombia won 9-8 on penalties

All matches were played in the same stadium.

Team news Costa Rica

The Central Americans, now led by Marvin Rodríguez, who had taken over from Gustavo de Simone in the wake of a 1-0 qualifying loss in Guatemala, had completed their World Cup qualification schedule by medio July the previous year. At Italia ’90, they were looking to compete at the global stage for the very first time. 

Cayasso scoring against Tony Meola

More than half a year had passed since Costa Rica’s final qualifier, a 1-0 home win over El Salvador, and it was time to step up their level of preparation ahead of the World Cup. The 2-0 win over hosts USA two days earlier had been a terrific achievement, with goals from mainstays Juan Cayasso and Enrique Díaz, the first a delicate chip over the goalkeeper from close range. 

Rodríguez had brought a fairly experienced squad with him, although there had been two starting debutants against the Americans in the shape of defenders Carlos Garro and Alexis Camacho, the latter a highly regarded centre-back on the domestic scene with leading club side Saprissa of capital San José. 

One notable absentee was goalkeeper Luis Gabelo Conejo, who had started all of Costa Rica’s ten qualifying matches. Jorge Hidalgo had come on for Conejo during their 1-1 draw in Trinidad&Tobago, and looked set to deputize for him on this occasion. Among other players who had featured regularly during the World Cup qualification and not present here, were midfielders Carlos Hidalgo and Claudio Jara. There were also fitness doubts regarding team captain Róger Flores. The defender had not featured in the win over USA. 

Team news Uruguay

Tabárez (left) and his assistant Gregorio Pérez

Óscar Tabárez and his staff had arrived in Florida with a squad which was nowhere near full strength. They had disposed of fellow South Americans Colombia in the competition’s semi-final two days earlier, and a total of four players had made their debuts, one of these from start. In the latter category was young and highly talented forward Daniel Fonseca, a 20 year old of Nacional. He was already rumoured to be on his way to Italy after the World Cup, although his destination had not yet been revealed. In addition to Fonseca, Pedro Pedrucci, a 28 year old midfielder of Progreso, as well as 25 year old forward Johnny Miqueiro (also Progreso) and 19 year old Gabriel Cedrés (Peñarol), also a front-runner, had come on during the course of the game. 

Nine players from their Copa América squad of 22 the previous year in Brazil were confirmed part of this competition. They were young goalkeeper Óscar Ferro, defenders Alfonso Domínguez, José Pintos Saldanha and skipper Hugo de León, midfielders Rubén Pereira, Santiago Ostolaza, Gabriel Correa and Edison Suárez, as well as young forward Sergio Martínez. Still, only de León, Domínguez and Ostolaza were considered first team regulars based on how Tabárez had lined his charges up in the World Cup qualification. 

Referee

A 46 year old American citizen by the name of Vincent Mauro, born in Italy, had been put in charge. He had officiated in the 1988 Olympic Games in South Korea, albeit only the group stage tie between Nigeria and eventual finalists Brazil. Mauro had also been awarded three matches in the 1988 Asian Cup, which had been held in Qatar, and he’d run the rule over two first phase fixtures in the 1989 Copa América. 

Costa Rica (5-2-3)

PlayerNotesAgeClub
1 Jorge Hidalgo26Saprissa
4 Mauricio Montero26Alajuelense
5 Marvin Obandosub 76′29Herediano
8 Germán Chavarría31Herediano
11 Evaristo Coronado (c)sub 58′29Saprissa
14 Juan Cayasso28Saprissa
15 Enrique Díaz30Saprissa
16 Carlos Garrosub h-tSaprissa
17 Hernán Medford21Saprissa
18 Alexis Camachosub 24′Saprissa
19 Héctor Marchena25Cartaginés

Substitutes   
2 Vladimir Quesadaon h-t23Saprissa
3 Róger Floreson 24′30Saprissa
9 Leónidas Floreson 58′25Supra Montreal
10 Óscar Ramírezon 76′25Alajuelense
Manager: Marvin Rodríguez

Uruguay (4-3-3)

PlayerNotesAgeClub
1 Fernando Álvez30Peñarol
2 Jorge Gonçalves22Peñarol
3 Hugo de León (c)31River Plate
4 José Saldanha25Nacional
5 Rubén Pereira 44′22Danubio
6 Alfonso Domínguez24Peñarol
7 Sergio Martínezsub 74′20Defensor
8 Santiago Ostolaza27Nacional
9 Daniel Fonsecasub h-t20Nacional
11 William Castro27Nacional
15 Pedro Pedruccisub 83′28Progreso

Substitutes   
14 Gabriel Correaon 83′22Peñarol
17 Johnny Miqueiroon 74′25Progreso
18 Gabriel Cedréson h-t19Peñarol
x Óscar Ferro22Peñarol
Manager: Óscar Tabárez

Tactical line-ups

Match report

First half
Our tape from the game has an ‘in medias res’ opening to it, as we are not entitled to the very kick-off. However, we arrive only a few seconds into the proceedings, with Uruguay in possession inside their own half. 

Their manager Tabárez had made just a single change to the eleven which had begun the game against Colombia, with Pedrucci replacing Suárez in midfield. As for the Costa Ricans, they had also made a solitary change since their most recent outing, and in place of midfielder José Chaves had come Héctor Marchena, who had even replaced Chaves during the USA win. 

Early impressions

Uruguay were an established 4-3-3 outfit under Tabárez, and there was no change around in their numbers combination on this occasion, despite the fact that they were drastically changed in playing materiell. They did appear to be based on a solid defensive foundation in which captain Hugo de León was the talismanic figure. On this occasion he was without his regular central defensive partner Nelson Gutiérrez, who was obviously engaged with his Italian league side Hellas Verona, playing away to Lazio on the same day (the Rome club incidentally his former employer in Serie A – the game would end scoreless). It was only de León, diminutive left-back Alfonso Domínguez and sizeable midfielder Santiago Ostolaza who remained from their regular starting eleven from last year’s Copa América and World Cup qualification. 

Coaches Antonio Moyano (left) and Marvin Rodríguez (both with specs)

Costa Rica supremo Marvin Rodríguez had looked to add steel to his defence through the addition of Marchena. While his predecessor in the eleven, Chaves, had most likely started in midfield, Marchena was now one of three central defenders in the starting line-up. While de León was the leading character at the back for the South Americans, Róger Flores was a player of similar influence on his surroundings. However, Costa Rica’s customary captain had missed out on the win against USA, and was only on the substitutes’ bench here. Libero on this occasion was Mauricio Montero, who had Marchena and Alexis Camacho ahead of him. Their formation clearly had a 5-2-3 outlook about it. 

Penalty!

Uruguay look like they mean business right from the word ‘go’, as they look to seize the early initiative, keeping possession inside the Costa Rican half of the pitch. They look alert and attentative, and their early pressing play is quite formidable, leaving the opposition with few opportunities other than hitting it long towards their front runners, something which usually sees the Uruguayans regain the upper hand. 

Castro, as he steadies himself before slotting home the early penalty

Seven minutes in, the Uruguay side, clad in their traditional light blue shirts and black shorts, charge through midfield and up the field, and it is light-footed midfielder Pedro Pedrucci leading the way. His burst sees him arrive inside the Costa Rican penalty area, although there looks to be little danger in terms of goal threat as Pedrucci finds himself in the left-sided corner of the box. However, acting libero Montero, who had failed in an attempt to stop Pedrucci with a tackle outside the area, returned for a second challenge, and the Uruguay midfielder, with his back to goal, was unceremoniously scythed down by the defender, and a penalty was the right decision by referee Mauro. Up stepped William Castro to dispatch with aplomb, as he fired it high into the net with goalkeeper Jorge Hidalgo committed. Terrific strike for 1-0. 

Chance for levelling score

In possession, Costa Rica appear more willing to make use of their left hand side than the right. It is the gangly Díaz featuring as their left-sided forward option, and he is a keen contributor, at times engaging in play well inside his own half. Across from him is the youthful Hernán Medford, who has yet to make an impact. Between them, as the centre-forward, is the experienced Evaristo Coronado, the team captain on this occasion. He is being closely monitored by Gonçalves, and has also had little say in proceedings thus far. 

Three minutes after Castro’s penalty, Costa Rica come close to snatching an equalizer. They had been able to make use of the ball in spells, and it was a ball up from Marchena at the back which suddenly caught the Uruguayan defence square, allowing Medford to sneak in behind their back. With the ball bouncing, the right-sided forward arrived one on one with Álvez, though as the 21 year old attempted a lob, he was really too close to the goalkeeper to have a great chance of succeeding. As it were, Medford’s attempt drifted a yard and a half wide, and it even looked like the ‘keeper had got a touch, although no corner kick was given. 

Enrique Díaz and Juan Cayasso over the ball

Less than two minutes later, the Costa Ricans are given another opportunity to claw their way back into the contest, as a long up and under from right-back Carlos Garro, a fairly tigerish player based on this performance, sees Coronado battle with his marker Gonçalves for the ball, though as the latter is adjudged to have obstructed the Costa Rica skipper, there’s a free-kick in a decent position for the Central American outfit. Cayasso can’t make much of it, though, as he attempts to deceive the opposition by lifting a quick ball towards the centre of the area rather than have a go. It is easily cleared. 

Uruguay have another

Martínez’ original effort looked to have been thwarted by Hidalgo, though it ricochetted back off the forward and was heading wide until Marchena intervened

Costa Rica’s libero Montero had poorly given away the penalty for 1-0 through his unnecessarily rash challenge on Pedrucci, and he was once again involved as Uruguay increased their advantage in their next wave of attack. They looked to find Fonseca in the right hand channel following a ball up from Ostolaza inside his own half. A combined effort from Marchena and Montero looked to have fended off the attack, though the latter clumsily conceded possession right on the edge of the area, allowing the on-rushing Sergio Martínez to seize the ball. His burst took him deep inside the area, with goalkeeper Hidalgo coming off his line to try and dent him. The custodian couldn’t prevent the ball from rebounding into Martínez’ foot as he parried, though with the ball drifting wide, it needed an ill-fated attempted clearance on the line by centre-back Marchena. The ball spectacularly ended up high into the back of his own net. While some sources opted to register Martínez with the goal, it was clear from the behind-the-goal camera that the ball was going wide from the right-sided forward’s touch until Marchena’s intervention. 2-0 it was nevertheless. 

What next? 

In normal circumstances, where both teams were at full strength, one would have favoured the South Americans, as they were usually so reliable defensively that you wouldn’t expect them to let a two goal lead slip. However, with so many changes in the Celeste line-up, the outcome still remained open to debate, although it would take a grandiose effort from the Ticos to get back on level terms, let alone to win the game. 

Despite the fact that Uruguay were so drastically changed since their Copa América and World Cup qualification exploits the previous year, one still very clearly saw how the team carried an Óscar Washington Tabárez print. Their 4-3-3 principles remained intact, and even player roles appeared to mirror those of before. 

José Luis Pintos Saldanha

Defensively, they were without customary right-back José Herrera, though his deputee José Pintos Saldanha looked to fill in aptly, even taking over Herrera’s number 4 shirt. It was likewise in the centre, where stand-in Gonçalves was operating in Gutiérrez’ #2 jersey. Saldanha did have his work cut out against the lively Díaz, who was one of Costa Rica’s more inventive players, while at centre half Uruguay were containing the Ticos skipper, Coronado, with relative ease so far. 

The rangey Ostolaza, in normal circumstances working slightly ahead of the defensive midfielder, was this time giving his best interpretation of the holding role which was usually reserved for José Perdomo. Ostolaza dropped deep, he would pick the ball off his central defenders when they were building from the back, and he offered apt cover for Gonçalves and de León when Costa Rica were mounting attacks. To have a player of his size in that role didn’t necessarily have to be a bad idea. 

Rubén Pereira (with Mauricio Montero)

Further ahead of Ostolaza in midfield, Rubén Pereira had stepped into the now holding midfield man’s shoes, although he was clearly a different type of player, relying more on skill in possession rather than an intimidation game through sheer physics. Pereira would cover greater distances, and he was perhaps the player in this select to differ  the most from the original. However, what Uruguay lost in size and mettle, they made up for in mobility, even if Pereira hadn’t been in the game a whole lot in the opening 20 minutes. 

Ostolaza, Fonseca, Pedrucci, Saldanha

Tabárez had relied on the immensely talented contribution from Rubén Paz when all of his best players had been available to him, while on this occasion the ‘Paz role’ had gone to someone with preciously little experience from an international level in Pedro Pedrucci. This was the 28 year old of Progreso’s first start in the Celeste shirt, as he had come off the bench to replace Edison Suárez in that hardfought win against the Colombians. Indeed, he had even opened the scoring then, and there was clearly something about him which one could understand had appealed to the management team. Pedrucci gave the impression of someone being somewhat fragile, as he would not seek to engage in battle. He could treat the ball with a level of delicacy, and, like Paz, he was equipped with a left foot which could pick a pass and, probably, direct an effort goalwards. The latter he had yet not been able to display. 

Uruguay’s most reputable player worldwide is Enzo Francescoli, currently playing for wealthy French club Olympique Marseille. In his absence, the number 9 shirt had gone to fledgling forward Daniel Fonseca, who did his best to impersonate the talismanic attack player. Fonseca would drop back and look for the ball, working off the Costa Rican central defenders, while he would look to connect with the two wide attackers when they were coming forward. To the right was the energetic Sergio Martínez, who had played a starring role for the second goal, and his efforts were not too dissimilar to the ones of the highly experienced Antonio Alzamendi before him. 

If Pereira had not quite replicated Ostolaza, then there was a second member of this particular eleven which also didn’t mirror the player whom he had stepped in for. Few players, even in a global perspective, mirrored the directness of Rubén Sosa, who usually played as their left-sided forward. With him busy earning his Lira in Italy, the significantly taller William Castro had taken over left wing duties. Castro was up against a fierce direct opponent in right-back Garro, though he did enjoy a bit of possession out in wing territory, looking deceptively slow due to the lenient way which he treated the ball. Rather than run into space, like Sosa, Castro would want the ball played to his feet. 

Costa Rica

The Central Americans surely had not had in their game plan to be two goals down in the early stages, yet this was what they needed to adjust to. They were looking sketchy at the back, where both Marchena and not least Montero had looked uncertain so far. The third central defensive player, Camacho, was at times drawn out of position looking to track Fonseca’s whereabouts. 

Only a few minutes after conceding the second, they come close to snatching a goal of their own when a free-kick played into the centre from the left hand channel reached Marchena, only for the centre-back’s header via the ground to be tipped onto the bar by goalkeeper Álvez. There was a chance of a follow-up, although the referee would ultimately signal a free-kick for the Uruguayans, possibly for a push. 

With no Conejo between the sticks, this task had gone to Jorge Hidalgo, who had been the first choice’s understudy during the World Cup qualification. He’d been brought on once during that ten games series. 

In the absence of Flores, it had been Montero slotting into the spare man role at the back. He’d looked a shaken player in the early stages, and would need to drastically up his game. Ahead of him were Marchena and Camacho, with the latter looking to keep an eye on Fonseca. 

Working as full-backs were Garro along the right and Obando to the left. The former, like Camacho in the centre, had not featured at all during the qualification, but he sure looked a feisty character with the way he battled it out with Castro so far. Obando looked more comfortable on the ball than his full-back counterpart, and would gladly assist the more advanced team members by coming forward along that left hand side. 

One could always debate whether they were playing with two or four in midfield, depending on how one viewed the pair of wide players: Should Medford and Díaz be seen as attackers or midfielders? They were not without defensive tasks, Díaz probably more so than Medford, but then again both clearly enjoyed coming forward more than they were keen on engaging inside their own half. In the centre were Cayasso and the workmanlike Chavarría, with the latter being the more visible figure among the pair in these initial phases. 

Up top was Coronado, another player who had featured prominently during their World Cup qualification campaign, and who was wearing the captain’s armband on this occasion. He was finding it difficult to make an impression as he was often left isolated, and he was battling it out against a pair of sturdy, rugged Uruguayan centre-halves.