LOS ANGELES -- As happy as Costa Rican and Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas insists he is these days, there’s one thing he would love to change about Madrid’s involvement in the 2017 MLS All-Star Game on Aug. 2 (8:30 pm ET | FS1, Univision in US; TSN, and TVA Sports in Canada) at Chicago’s Soldier Field:
The number of fellow Ticos who will be there.
“They are here following their dreams too, and if it is for me I would take them all to that game”, said Navas in Spanish during a press conference Tuesday at UCLA.
In some ways, he has a point. Aside from the US national team and Canada national team, few other nations have recently leaned more heavily on Major League Soccer for its national program than Costa Rica.
Of the 13 Costa Ricans currently on MLS books Ticos have five MLSers currently on their Gold Cup squad (and have sent home Johan Venegas due to injury) and have called in as many as eight during international breaks for World Cup qualifying.
Although none of them are truly established stars, winger Rodney Wallace and the (currently injured) outside back Ronald Matarrita are important pieces of New York City FC’s emergence as a title contender.
So on a day that seemingly everyone had a gripe with the completion of the All-Star roster, Navas just wished his fellow countrymen could enjoy the same support Los Galacticos have recieved in their time in the States so far.
“It's nice to see how the people recognize our work,” he said. “That’s something to appreciate”.
Navas said Real Madrid and he personally are trying to pay back their fans with their love and their time. He turned his words into actions Tuesday, stopping on his way to the training ground to sign autographs and take pictures with the people waiting in the summer heat.
As far as the All-Star Game, Navas is confident the match will live up to the buildup.
“It is going to be a great match,” he said “A nice experience to take home.”
Real Madrid travel on Friday to Santa Clara where Los Merengues will face Manchester United in their first friendly on this tour.
Madrid will come back to LA after that match and keep their camp at UCLA. And as Navas prepares to help Madrid have another historic season, he also admits he has personal and patriotic goals in mind.
“I want to leave a mark in this team," he said. "I want to make history, represent my country and put the name of Costa Rica as high as I can."