For MLS fans, Costa Rica’s roster at this year’s FIFA World Cup reads like an album of familiar faces. With Los Ticos taking their place in the tournament for the fifth time, they’ve proved one of the most consistent CONCACAF sides. And that all comes with thanks to contributions from players from Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Minnesota United FC, Portland Timbers, LAFC and NYCFC, among other clubs worldwide.
Costa Rica plays its final match in Group E on Wednesday, vs. Switzerland. And though the group’s yielded some tough tests, the team have managed to find plenty of joy from the honor of playing on the sport’s biggest stage.
Some of that, they say, they find through music. We caught up with NYCFC’s Rodney Wallace – who says his first musical love was Bob Marley, thanks to his dad – to hear about the tracks and artists that have kept him going.
What do you listen to before a big game like in the World Cup? What about during training?
"The songs on my playlist here -- nothing out of the ordinary. I like to listening to songs I already know and I’m familiar with before the game. They tend to stay in my head and ground me if I’m out of focus during the game.
How does music play a role in getting your mindset right for such a big tournament?
"It’s on right when I wake up before breakfast, on the way to training, and when we’re just relaxing. It’s important to keep the good vibes."
What are some of the best artists you’ve discovered through your teammates or the locker room?
"Over the last couple of years I’ve gotten into the new wave of African hip-hop and dancehall -- artists like WSTRN, J Hus, and Burna Boy."
What’s the best concert you’ve ever attended?
"It was The Weeknd in 2012, when he was not as big as he is now. It was my favorite because it was a small show and he wasn’t mainstream; I felt like no one really knew about him. And if I could meet any artist, too, it would be him; I would love to sit in the studio and see how his music comes to life."