World Cup: Columbus Crew's three Costa Rican players facing different road to Brazil
OBETZ, Ohio – Defender Michael Parkhurst grabbed headlines Monday after being named to the preliminary 30-man World Cup roster for the United States, but the American wasn't the only Columbus Crew player to hear the good news.
It was also announced Monday that Columbus' three Costa Rican players – Giancarlo González, Waylon Francis and Jairo Arrieta – are part of the preliminary World Cup roster for their country, but each player has a much different road to Brazil ahead of them.
González has the most international experience of the trio, and is expected to be an important part of the Costa Rican team. The central defender's place in Brazil is likely secure, and he said his next goal is to start for La Sele.
“My main goal is to go and find a spot on the field,” he said through a translator at Crew training on Tuesday. “We have a great coaching staff that's going to see how the other team plays, and on our end – the players – we have to try to win, that's the most important thing for us.”
Though González had plenty of national team experience before joining the Crew this year, he said the move to Columbus and the consistent playing time helped him clinch the spot and should put him in good form for the World Cup.
“We're 10 games in right now, and I've been fortunate enough to play all 10 games,” he said. “That's going to help me a lot, moving forward with Costa Rica.”
Francis, however, is in a tougher battle to get on the plane. The 23-year-old has only earned one cap for his country, and had it not been for an injury to veteran Costa Rican defender Bryan Oviedo, Francis may not have made the roster. But he joins González in the 30-man preliminary squad, and hopes to translate his strong play with the Crew into international success.
“I've been working hard [for Costa Rica] like I've been doing [in Columbus],” he said. “I want everything to translate to the next level when I go down to Costa Rica when I try to make the roster.”
The experienced González joining him in Columbus has been an added bonus, Francis said.
“Having [Gonznalez] has been very helpful,” Francis said. “He's been there, and he's played more games than I have, so he's definitely advised me on what to expect.”
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Arrieta is the odd man out of the three players, and while he was named an alternate in the 30-man squad, he won't be traveling to Costa Rica with his teammates and will likely need to rely on injuries or poor form from teammates to reach Brazil.
But the striker, who fell out of form after a down 2013 season in Columbus, said he's keeping his spirits high and is trying to stay consistent.
“I can't put my head down,” he said. “I'm very excited to at least be a part of it. ... I don't have any different emotions, I've just got to keep my head up and keep playing hard.”
It is still unknown when González and Francis will join their Costa Rican teammates. Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter said it could be as early as Wednesday or as late as Sunday. Their status for Saturday's match against the Portland Timbers (10:30 pm ET; MLS Live) is still uncertain.