Costa Rica - World Cup 2014 Team Profile
Nick Spiller reports
Road to Brazil
Though they stuttered out of the gates in the fourth and final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, drawing to Panama and losing to the United States in a snowy encounter, Costa Rica responded and finished 2nd in the group, besting the likes of Mexico and Honduras, and even defeating the USA in their second fixture in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica Kit 1
Costa Rica Kit 2
Costa Rica will be entering their 4th World Cup, but will be facing a very stern test. They have been paired in a tough group with the likes of England, Italy, and Uruguay. Though after a quarterfinal run in the 2013 Gold Cup and a solid qualifying campaign, the team will like their chances of potentially snatching an exciting upset against one of these World Cup contenders.
Though the team lacks any world-class superstars, there are several players who make their careers abroad at decent European clubs. Prominent squad members include goalkeeper Keylor Navas of Levante, Christian Bolanos of Copenhagen, Joel Campbell of Arsenal, and Bryan Ruiz of PSV Eindhoven.
The hopes and dreams of this squad will lie in their ability to defend hard and potentially snatch a goal from one of their decent strikers, who are quite capable of netting a tremendous goal or two in Brazil. However, making a surge past the group stage appears highly unlikely with this run of fixtures.
Key player: Bryan Ruiz
One of the better known players on the Costa Rican side and the team captain, Ruiz has had a successful European career, highlighted by several decent seasons at Fulham of the English Premier League. At age 28, this could be his last chance to shine at a World Cup.
One to watch: Joel Campbell
Having played last season in Greece at Olympiacos (on loan from Arsenal), Campbell finally put out the offensive output expected from the talented young striker. He also scored a tremendous goal against Manchester United in the Champions League, revealing that he is the future of Costa Rican soccer.
Coach: Jorge Luis Pinto
An extended coaching career has seen Pinto manage clubs throughout South America, as well as the Colombian national team. Having done well so far with Costa Rica, Jorge Luis Pinto will be looking to help his side become the surprise team. He will have his team fight hard defensively and hope for Ruiz or Campbell to make a magical moment.
Clearly the weakest team in Group D, Costa Rica has not much of a hope in the world of progressing, though they will fight hard to cause an upset, which may occur in their opening match if they can catch Uruguay cold. Since they are seen as the must-win fixture for each of their opponents, this team has the ability to frustrate a side and potentially play the role of spoiler. With Italy often playing overly defensive and England usually failing to live up to expectations at World Cups, Costa Rica could potentially scrounge a draw or a win in one of these games.
Fortunately, the side will be close to their home, and they have had some recent success and experience at major tournaments. However, in this challenging group, they are almost certain to go home disappointed from the group stage. Their main hope will be to score several goals or get a single point from one of these matches.While such an outlook will be bleak, if Costa Rica can avoid an embarrassing drubbing they will go home with their heads held high. Anything more will be a bonus. Because they have a strong fighter's spirit within the squad, I think this team is capable of pulling off an upset in at least one of their matches, though I cannot fathom progression to the knockout rounds.
2014 World Cup Squad
Goalkeepers: Keylor Navas (Levante), Daniel Cambronero (Herediano), Patrick Pemberton (Alajuelense)
Defenders: Giancarlo Gonzalez (Columbus Crew), Johnny Acosta (Alajuelense), Oscar Duarte (Club Brugge), Michael Umana (Saprissa), Waylon Francis (Columbus Crew), David Myrie (Herediano), Roy Miller (New York Red Bulls), Junior Diaz (Mainz 05), Cristian Gamboa (Rosenborg)
Midfielders: Christian Bolanos (Copenhagen), Celso Borges (AIK), Esteban Granados (Herediano), Michael Barrantes (Aalesund), Yeltsin Tejeda (Saprissa), Jose Miguel Cubero (Herediano), Diego Calvo (Valerenga)
Strikers: Bryan Ruiz (PSV), Joel Campbell (Arsenal), Marco Urena (Kuban Krasnodar), Randall Brenes (Cartagines)