The great soccer tournament of South America arrived in the Pacific Northwest on Saturday.
Peru managed a 1-0 win over Haiti in the Copa America Centenario opener for both teams. And that result was largely welcomed by the crowd of 20,190 at CenturyLink Field, where the red and white jerseys of Peru far outnumbered the blue and red of Haiti.
“We receive that support everywhere,” Peru coach Ricardo Gareca said through a translator. “All the fans, wherever we go … they find us. I thank them so much for the support. I know that people came from different parts of the United States to see us, and the people who live here. … Maybe they expected more from us, but we were able to give them this.”
The match opened with 60 minutes of scoreless soccer. However, there were many moments of flair and a steady diet of solid chances.
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Peru finally broke through with a play that began and ended with brilliance: a cross from Edison Flores pinpointed to the head of Paolo Guerrero, who snapped it in from just in front of the goal.
That one must have had extra satisfaction for Flores, who had the best chance of the first half, but the ball bounced away off the right post.
Peru put five shots on target to Haiti’s three, and Peru held 52 percent of the possession.
This championship of South American soccer is being held in the United States for the first time. From here, Peru (1-0-0) will go on to meet Ecuador on Wednesday in Glendale, Arizona, while Haiti (0-1-0) will face Brazil at Orlando, Florida.
Seattle will host two more games: Argentina-Bolivia on June 14 and a quarterfinal with teams yet to be determined on June 16.
The games are being played on a temporary natural-grass surface.