An inability to put chances away has once again come back to haunt Canada's men's soccer team.
Jairo Arrieta scored on a first-half penalty shot as Costa Rica beat Canada 1-0 in an exhibition match Tuesday in Edmonton.
The penalty was Costa Rica's only quality opportunity of the half. Canada had the bulk of possession in the game in front of 8,110 fans at Commonwealth Stadium, but couldn't finish its chances.
"If we had hit the target on the occasions that we had free headers it could have been 4-1 tonight," said interim head coach Colin Miller. "I don't think there's anything to be negative about at all other than result, which is not what we wanted."
Costa Rica was awarded the penalty after midfielder Samuel Piette swiped for a ball in the Canadian 18-yard box but took out Arrieta instead.
Arrieta then converted the kick by putting it just past the outstretched hands of Canadian goalkeeper Milan Borjan, who dived to his right to try to stop the penalty.
Canada now heads into July's Gold Cup tournament without a win in five games in 2013. Admittedly, all of the games have come against higher ranked opponents and mostly with players that seldom feature for their club teams, let alone the national team.
The best result Canada has been able to muster this year was a scoreless draw against the United States back in January.
"It's something to consider," said midfielder Julian de Guzman, who served as captain. "Going into a tournament that's our biggest moment this year and we haven't gotten a win for the year yet. So I'm sure there's a little big of concern there but at the same time we're in the middle of rebuilding and there are a lot of new faces and a lot of inexperienced players."
The initial roster of 35 players for the Gold Cup is due on Friday before it will be trimmed down to 23 in time for July. That squad is likely be feature more veteran players than were on had Tuesday.
Canada nearly responded two minutes after conceding the penalty. Defender Nik Ledgerwood started a scoring chance as he swung in a low cross from the right side. Midfielder Issey Nakajima-Farran was first to the ball but his shot from just inside the 18-yard box was too high.
Randy Edwini-Bonsu made a few eye-catching runs in the first half, showing off his blazing speed. In the 26th minute he blazed around the Costa Rican back line and was alone on goal but had a bad-angle shot saved by Costa Rica goalkeeper Patrick Pemberton who had raced off his line.
Edwini-Bonsu, an Edmonton native, was relishing the rare opportunity to play at home as Canada was playing their first game in Alberta's capital since 2008—well before Edwini-Bonsu was on the national team radar.
"Last time we played here was so long ago," said Edwini-Bonsu, who played for German second division side Eintracht Braunschweig this past season. "I thought Edmonton deserved it and thankfully I'm from here so it worked out perfect."
Canada had a few more opportunities just before halftime, but both a Doneil Henry header on a corner kick and an Andre Hainault header on a Kyle Bekker free kick both missed wide.
Canada nearly went down another goal in the second half. Osvaldo Rodriguez's header in the 54th minute looped into the net, but the goal was called back for a foul as Rodriguez shoved Ledgerwood to win the ball.
Both sides were reduced to 10 men in the 75th minute when Christopher Meneses and Ledgerwood scuffled near the corner in the Canadian end.
Meneses clearly shoved Ledgerwood in the face, which is an automatic red card, but it was not immediately clear what Ledgerwood did to merit the second sending off.