FutbolMLS.com Digest: Costa Rica have a plan to stop Arjen Robben; Brazil legends hail Kaka move
FutbolMLS.com is the go-to source for Spanish-language coverage of MLS and the upcoming World Cup, and every Friday we bring you an English-language digest of the best stuff on the site. Oh, and don't miss everything you need to know about the weekend in American soccer in the Starting XI.
It's a question Rafa Marquez is probably still thinking about, and it's now a very real one for Costa Rica to answer if they want to take their fairytale run to unprecedented heights.
“These types of players with space make the difference, especially one-on-one, and for that reason we have to double them up,” said Costa Rica defender Johnny Acosta.
Added midfielder Celso Borges: “Those players with spaces are lethal. You have to see how to close those spaces where they penetrate. They are also the first defenders, so you have to study how to overcome that first pressure that they put on to that we can play a game that fits better with our style.”
One of the biggest keys to halting the speedy Robben, though, is the last line of defense – goalkeeper Keylor Navas. Unfortunately for the Ticos, Navas has been suffering an ache in one of his shoulders that has kept him apart from the team in the buildup to Saturday’s game.
Said team physio Erick Sanchez: “He has a problem in his shoulder, an injury that has to be treated with a lot of caution. It does not mean his participation agains the Netherlands is in danger. We’ll be very careful and if appropriate, he will not do work all week because we want him to be healthy for Saturday.”
2. TALKIN' KAKA, COSTA RICA: The Ticos are the last CONCACAF team standing in the World Cup – who'd have thought?
In the latest Tiro Libre podcast, the gang discusses what went wrong for the United States and Mexico (and whether or not the blame for El Tri's elimination is really with the officials), and what went right for Costa Rica. It's even suggested that the Ticos can spring the upset of all upsets and top the Dutch.
Of course, the World Cup isn't the only big-name topic of the week – Brazilian star Kaka has arrived in Orlando to sign as the soon-to-be MLS expansion side's first Designated Player, and the crew breaks down the implications of yet another big-name arrival this summer.
Former Brazil national team stars Zico and Rai both had kind words as far as their compatriot's arrival in Orlando goes, with the former expressing his happiness at “the good news of [Kaka's] move to MLS.”
“In these moments it is one of the leagues with greater strength and the fact that Kaka wanted to go there and that the league pursued him with such effort signifies that they are doing things very well,” said Zico, one of the great players of one of Brazil's greatest teams in the 1980s.
Rai, a World Cup winner with Brazil in 1994, said, “For what he represents on and off the field, Kaka is going to have a very positive impact for his new club, Orlando City. As for the US league, I believe he's going in the ideal moment, as much as for his age as for his great experience, and will surely serve to support many good things in MLS.”
4. ROUND OF 16 – THE BEST XI: The World Cup quarterfinals kick off Friday, but let's spare a thought for the players who fought so hard, only to see their teams eliminated in the Round of 16, and recognize those who got their teams to the next round.
There's one name that goes without saying here – Tim Howard's 16-save performance against Belgium made him a no-brainer. Same goes for James Rodriguez, the darling of the tournament after another outstanding performance, this time against Uruguay.
Who else made FutbolMLS.com's Best XI from the Round of 16? Click through here to find out.
5. PIOJO'S PAINS: Miguel Herrera and Mexico suffered a heartbreaking loss on Sunday to the Netherlands, decided by a stoppage-time penalty that has many Mexicans up in arms. Herrera said his team leave with their heads held high, though, and for good reason — they earned seven points from a group including hosts and favorites Brazil, and very nearly knocked one of the 2010 finalists out in the Round of 16.
“I felt that the team could get the result, but I go happy and proud of having coached this group of players. They can hold their heads high. No one can tell them anything, they played a great World Cup.”
No word yet on Herrera’s future with the team, although the manager is widely popular not only for turning El Tri around after a nearly catastrophic qualifying for campaign, as well as his animated manner on the sideline. Has he earned the right to lead the team to the 2018 World Cup?