GC Daily: The great wall of Puerto Rico

Quick reactions, details, and one longer article on the day's Concacaf Gold Cup action.

GC Daily: The great wall of Puerto Rico
Courtesy of Concacaf

Note: Welcome to Gold Cup Daily. A quick snapshot of the tournament's action from the day before (beginning), some extra words on the day's main talking point (middle), and key details of the next matches (at the end).

Tuesday's Group B results:
Colombia 6-0 Panama
Brazil 1-0 Puerto Rico

The snapshot

Results-wise, it was business as usual in Group B. No surprises. The South Americans were expected to take care of their Concacaf opponents, and they did.

But the scorelines were not what many would have predicted. Colombia-Panama was probably meant to be a bit closer than the drubbing that took place, while most would've tipped there to be a bigger chasm between Brazil and Puerto Rico.

Panama looked wrecked, at rock bottom, after being on the wrong end of a scintillating Colombian display. Even with two matches left to play in the Group Stage, and with two third-place teams advancing to the Quarterfinals, it felt like more than just a loss.

This was no more evident than in the words and demeanor of Panama talisman Marta Cox. "It hurts us. It was not the way to lose," said the visibly crestfallen attacker post-match. "We have to turn the page. It hurts us, I know that we are going to get up and we are going to come back strong."

Colombia struck in two bursts of three in each half. A trio of goals between minutes 26 and 36, another trio between 72 and 89. The flurries were fierce.

Catalina Usme appeared as cozy as a surfer, bobbing on mild waves, as she swanned about the San Diego pitch. A goal and two assists capped off a banner night for the Pachuca forward. Everything looked easy. She was the first player to have a multi-assist and a goal game for Colombia since 2018.

On the end of Usme's first tidy tee-up was Manuela Pavi, who scored a brace. The duo struck up a fine relationship. Which is a big plus for interim head coach Angelo Marsigli, who chose to start the duo in a 4-3-3 and place superstar Linda Caicedo on the bench.

However, with the score at 3-0, Marsigli twisted the knife by bringing the 18-year-old on in the 70th minute. Quickly, Colombia reenergized. 80 seconds later, Usme broke away down the left and crossed in for Manuela Vanegas to volley home.

Caicedo eventually brought the house down 10 minutes after her introduction. Slaloming down the left wing, into the box, feinting, swiveling the ball on her toe, both feet engaged, moving players around with jolts of her hips.

Three Panama players were left for dead on Caicedo's dribble. And with one final inside of the boot slot, she netted her country's fifth. An inch-perfect finish, that hovered over the goalkeeper's extended heel. Magic.

If there's a better goal at this Gold Cup than that I will be shocked.

The great wall of Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico were as resolute as Panama were rickety.

A frustrated Brazil blasted 29 shots before Gabi Nunes slid the ball past rising star goalkeeper Sydney Martinez, in the 81st-minute, with lucky attempt number 30. As good as the PR shot-stopper was, credit also has to go to the players around her.

PR dipped in and out of a 4-4-2 and 5-4-1 in order to negate the space that Brazil wanted to play into.

There was an early scare in the third minute that became a vital lesson for the Blue Hurricane.

First, left back Bryana Pizarro pushed up to press the ball, which then left the centre backs Amber DiOrio and Madison Cox with far too much space between them (below).

With Brazil's numbers up in the final third, holding midfielder Sarah Martinez chased back late to cover. The sequence ends with Sydney Martinez being called upon to make a big stop from a Bia Zaneratoo chance.

Puerto Rico quickly learned from this early positional scare by becoming much more compact and allowing their wide midfielders, Danielle Marcano on the right and Jill Aguilera on the left, to do more pressing off the ball.

In turn, this meant their centre-backs didn't have to pull wide. Which reduced the space in the lines that Brazil could play into. Furthermore, Sarah Martinez often dropped into the back four to make it a back five and keep numbers up in the box.

Just 13 minutes later (above), and PR has a good numbers advantage (6 v 5) in the box and is keeping all the playable space very compact. It all begins with Aguilera being the presser from midfield which allows the lines to get compact. This sequence ends with Brazil playing the ball backward and Aline taking a pot-shot from 35 yards out, that trickles wide of the goal.

PR wasn't totally flawless. They had a fair bit of luck. Brazil hit the post twice from chances you'd expect them to score.

Debinha cracked it first from around the penalty box after arriving late in the box (first still), then Duda Santos headed the ball plum against it with the goal gaping (second still).

The Debinha chance stuck out because Brazil managed to get in behind the PR low backline by chipping the ball over right-back Veronica Garcia, and then cutting it back across goal to an inverted runner. It was a smart move that had the islanders on their heels.

Brazil needed to make the pitch bigger, either vertically or horizontally, to pull PR out of shape. Something they didn't do enough in the game overall.

Duda Santos' big missed chance only arrived because PR failed to clear the ball. Turning the ball over was extremely dangerous. A quick long ball over the top wasn't dealt with, and giving up possession in your own third, Brazil instantly had a chance to attack against a broken shape.

The longer the game went on 0-0 you started to see PR creep up the pitch. And, as a result, Brazil attempted to hit quicker long balls to get more opportunities against a PR defence that was on their heels.

If PR don't commit players forward for a free kick chance in the 80th minute, there's a good chance Brazil don't score.

This was the PR free kick (above). Just 29 seconds later the ball ends up being in the back of their net. Aguilera takes it well and finds Marcano on the right wing, but after taking a couple of touches she sends a cross straight out of play.

Brazil keeper Luciana senses that PR might be out of shape grabs a ball close to her net and immediately plays it short to restart. A couple of passes along the backline while PR tracks into shape and then Antônia immediately sees the gap and hits the long pass in behind.

It's cruel that after defending so well (and riding their luck a bit) PR came undone in a brief moment of misalignment. They weren't ragged but just ever-so-slightly ajar. A rare high-line, and a back four that isn't totally level, creates a small window for Brazil to attack (above). And they took it.

This match could easily have been 2-0 or 3-0. But when people would've expected a scoreline more akin to the Colombia-Panama game that's a serious win for PR. Goal difference could yet come into play and a 1-0 defeat to Brazil is valuable.

Understandably head coach Nat Gonzalez seemed delighted with his team. He hinted, that after that performance, it could be a light week of coaching before a massive match against Panama on Saturday.

"Mentally they're in a good place, I don't think I have to do much," beamed Gonzalez.

Quite rightly, the biggest takeaway for the PR head coach was that his team is moving closer to being able to compete at the top table of international footy.

"Win, lose or draw, the gap is closing. Which is what I'm really proud of. The gap is closing. Every time we play these games - especially in a game like this - we have a chance to get a point. I think the confidence builds within itself."

Of course, one thing head coach Nat Gonzalez might want to look at is distribution. Goalkeeper Martinez connected on just two of her 23 pass attempts, and they need to get more creative at holding possession for a beat more at the back or winning more flick-ons in midfield.

NEXT: Thu. 22 Feb. Group C fixtures:
Costa Rica v Paraguay | 6:15 p.m. ET
Canada v El Salvador | 9:00 p.m. ET