This tiny nation of fewer than five million people continues to punch above its weight on the global soccer scene, producing players who manage to achieve international success. Most recently, the 2014 World Cup showcased Costa Rica at their very best: Above average technical skill, serviceable speed and athleticism, and disciplined organization.
- Joel Campbell – He’s finally being employed regularly at Arsenal and the Copa America could be the icing on the cake to a breakthrough season of sorts.
- Bryan Ruiz – The slick-moving 30-year-old may not take over games like he used to, but he’s effective and can still make the big play.
- Keylor Navas – The magical run at the 2014 World Cup led to a dream transfer to Real Madrid, where he’s now the immovable starter after the departure of legend Iker Casillas.
Oscar Ramirez – The former Costa Rican international, who featured at the 1990 World Cup, was a long-time assistant for his former teammate Hernan Medford, before becoming a head coach himself at domestic giants Alajuelense. Known for a cautious, balanced and result-oriented tactical approach, “El Machillo” took over at the helm of Costa Rica in August 2015.
Copa America Group A Schedule
June 4 vs. Paraguay (5 pm ET, Camping World Stadium – Orlando, Fl.)
June 7 vs. United States (8 pm ET, Soldier Field – Chicago, Ill.)
June 11 vs. Colombia (10 pm ET, NRG Stadium – Houston, Tex.)
Copa America Squad
Goalkeepers (3): Esteban Alvarado, Keylor Navas, Patrick Pemberton
Defenders (9): Johnny Acosta, Francisco Calvo, Oscar Duarte, Christian Gamboa, Ronald Matarrita, Bryan Oviedo, Jose Salvatierra, Michael Umaña, Kendall Waston
Midfielders (7): Randall Azofeifa, Christian Bolaños, Celso Borges, Esteban Granados, Bryan Ruiz, Yeltsin Tejeda, Johan Venegas
Forwards (4): Joel Campbell, Alvaro Saborio, Ariel Rodriguez, Marcos Ureña
Starting XI (5-4-1)
- GK: Keylor Navas (Real Madrid)
- RB: Cristian Gamboa (West Bromwich Albion)
- CB: Oscar Duarte (Espanyol)
- CB: Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps)
- CB: Johnny Acosta (Alajuelense)
- LB: Ronald Matarrita (NYCFC)
- RM: Christian Bolaños (Vancouver Whitecaps)
- DM: Celso Borges (Deportivo La Coruña)
- AM: Bryan Ruiz (Sporting CP)
- LM: Joel Campbell (Arsenal)
- FW: Alvaro Saborio (D.C. United)
Style of play
Bolstered by the security blanket of a five-man back line and a hard-working team of central midfielders, Costa Rica is typically difficult to penetrate. Although they can be effective in possession, when it comes to the attack, the Ticos rely on the occasional game-breaking play from their most skillful players (see Bryan Ruiz) and the havoc-wreaking speed of Joel Campbell and strike sub Marcos Ureña.
How they qualified
Costa Rica officially booked their ticket to the 2016 Copa America as one of the six participating CONCACAF teams by claiming the 2014 Central American championship (Copa UNCAF) held in the USA, downing Guatemala in the final in Los Angeles.
Copa America history
The Copa America is nothing new for the Ticos. They’ve been previously invited on four other occasions (1997, 2001, 2004, 2011) and they advanced to the quarterfinals twice, finishing a shocking top of their group in 2001 and beating Chile to emerge from the group stage in 2004.
Costa Rica have also made it to four World Cups, with their coming out party taking place at the 1990 edition in Italy, where they advanced to the knockout round in their debut appearance. But their crowning achievement was their quarterfinal finish at the 2014 World Cup, where only a penalty kick shootout against the Netherlands halted the Cinderella run.
United States vs Costa Rica
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The pipeline of Costa Rican players to MLS is a healthy one with plenty of national teamers: left back Waylon Francis (Columbus), center back Kendall Waston (Vancouver), left back Ronald Matarrita (NYCFC), midfielder Johan Venegas (Montreal), center forward Alvaro Saborio (DC United) and winger Cristian Bolaños (Vancouver).