Here is Costa Rica’s Final Roster, and each player’s club team:
Goalkeepers: Esteban Alvarado (Trabzonspor), Keylor Navas (Real Madrid), Patrick Pemberton (Alajuelense)
Defenders: Johnny Acosta (Alajuelense), Francisco Calvo (Saprissa), Oscar Duarte (Espanyol), Christian Gamboa (West Brom), Ronald Matarrita (NYCFC), Bryan Oviedo (Everton), Jose Salvatierra (Alajuelense), Michael Umaña (Persepolis FC), Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps)
Midfielders: Randall Azofeifa (Herediano), Christian Bolaños (Vancouver Whitecaps) Celso Borges (Deportivo de la Coruña), Esteban Granados (Herediano), Bryan Ruiz (Sporting Lisbon), Yeltsin Tejeda (Evian), Johan Venegas (Monteral Impact)
Attackers: Joel Campbell (Arsenal), Alvaro Saborio (D.C. United), Ariel Rodriguez (Bangkok Glass), Marcos Ureña (Midtjylland)
The Skinny: Costa Rica was the surprise team of the tournament in the 2014 World Cup, where they shocked the world by making the quarterfinals when most predicted them to exit in the group stage. It was the team’s incredibly organized and hard-working defense, and the class shown by goalkeeper Keylor Navas that earned the country a trip to the quarterfinals and Navas a move to Real Madrid.
Two years later, the core of that team is making the trip to the United States for the Copa America Centenario. Returning players include Navas, who is coming off a win in the Champions League Final. Sporting Lisbon Midfielder Bryan Ruiz looks to be a key player in Los Ticos’ attack again, and he is in fine form, coming off of a season where he scored eight goals and assisted 13. Arsenal winger Joel Campbell broke into Arsenal’s first team, and showed his class in the premier league. Joining them will be five defenders who played in Rio, and Everton’s Bryan Oviedo, who missed out on the World Cup due to injury.
Los Ticos failed to impress at the Gold Cup last year, losing to Mexico in the quarterfinals. Costa Rica will need to recapture the form they had in Rio to make it out of their group. They will have to do it without their former manager Jose Luis Pinto, however, who is now managing Honduras. Oscar Ramirez will organize this year’s team.
The most important game for Costa Rica will be against a solid, but beatable United States team on June 7th in Chicago. With a win in the Windy City, Los Ticos will likely escape the group, but a draw or especially a loss against the US will hurt their chances significantly.
Although they relied on their defense to get them to the World Cup Quarterfinals, the success of Costa Rica’s attack may be what decides if they make it though the group stage or not. The group figures to be very tight and their final place may come down to goal difference.
Key Players: Joel Campbell, Bryan Ruiz, Keylor Navas
Predicted Finish in Group A: Third Place