Curaçao Keeper Has Tim Howard-Esque Performance, Celebrates With Rival Fans

Take a bow, Eloy Room. The Curaçao goalie set a tournament record with 15 saves to lead his tiny nation of about 160,000 to its first-ever Gold Cup win, 1-0 over Honduras on Friday in Houston. 

The Curaçao keeper was unbeatable to keep Honduras, the group favorite, at bay. In a great moment after the match, Room celebrated with fans of Honduras’ rival, El Salvador.

“Good,” is how Room responded when asked to characterize his night, a grin underselling his modesty. “Everyone’s happy that we won the game and especially for the fans of Curacao and our island. We win the game and I’m proud of our team and I helped so that’s nice.”

Room’s performance, combined with a 40th-minute goal from Leandro Bacuna, helped Curaçao knock Honduras out of the Gold Cup while leaving the possibility of Curaçao advancing with the right result against Jamaica on the final match day of Group C.

Honduras, which has a large fanbase in Houston, aided by the national teamers like Alberth Elis who play for the Dynamo, couldn’t find a way past Room despite taking 35 shots and holding 64 percent possession.

After making those 15 saves, Room celebrated with El Salvador fans in the crowd. Room made five saves in a 1-0 loss to El Salvador on Monday, but El Salvador fans were ecstatic the Curaçao goalie helped knock out their rival Honduras. El Salvador and Honduras play in the final Group C match on Tuesday.

The performance was not dissimilar to Tim Howard’s 16 saves made against Belgium in the 2014 World Cup, except that Room’s team actually won. 

Curaçao played in its first Gold Cup in 2017 and went home with three straight losses without scoring a goal. The nation did finish third twice in the predecessor to the Gold Cup, the Concacaf Championship, in 1963 and 1969. 

Bacuna gave the underdogs the lead with a fine finish in the 40th minute. 

Curaçao won the 2017 CFU Caribbean Cup with a 2-1 win over Jamaica. Another 2-1 win over Jamaica would see the tiny country advance to the Gold Cup knockout rounds. 

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