2014 World Cup Costa Rica

Costa Rica takes the 2014 World Cup by Storm

Costa Rica, a small country of only 4 million, has taken the World Cup by storm over these last two weeks.  Although many experts and fans around the world didn’t expect Costa Rica to advance past the “group of death”, La Sele (the nickname for Costa Rica’s national team) not only advanced but now finds themselves in the quarterfinals for the first time in history.  They will face Holland on Saturday, July 5th to see if this Cinderella story can continue.

After failing to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa Costa Rica started a new era with young talent such as Joel Campbell, Bryan Ruiz, Keylor Navas, Cristian Bolanos to name a few.  In 2011 they rehired Colombian coach Jorge Luis Pinto and have consistently been getting stronger as a team over the last 3 years.  In September of 2013 Costa Rica was one loss away from being eliminated from the World Cup after suffering  2-0 and 1-0 losses to Mexico.  In October they clinched their birth in this year’s World Cup with a 1-0 win over El Salvador and a 7-0 win over Guyana.  And that landed La Sele in the aforementioned “group of death”

The only major names on the squad are goalkeeper Keylor Navas who plays for Levante in La Liga, forward Bryan Ruiz of Fulham and forward Joel Campbell of Arsenal.  The rest of the team are mostly unknowns who make modest livings in the sport in Costa Rica, Russia, Scandinavia and the MLS.  This may change as the spotlight has been on this team on the world’s biggest stage for futbol.  This is great exposure not only for the country of Costa Rica but for these players, some whose talent has gone unnoticed.

Costa Rica opened with a decisive 3-1 win over Uruguay.  That was a great beginning, and there was a lot of excitement in the air in Costa Rica, but when they beat Italy 1-0 the streets erupted with excitement.  The first thing we all did was head downtown as soon as the game was over.  It was packed and cars were bumper to bumper with cars honking horns and everybody cheering in the streets.  The scene on the streets was really crazy in San Jose.  From watching the news it seemed like no one was left at home in the capital city.  The last of the group games was a 0-0 tie against Costa Rica with La Sele moving on with 7 points.  It was almost a week after this until the next round game against Greece.  This one was a nail biter as Greece scored a tying goal at 90 +1′ to send the game into extra time.  There was no score in extra time so it all came down to penalty kicks.  Costa Rica bested Greece 5-3 to move on to the quarterfinals.  As I write this on Friday, July 4th, everyone is very excited and talking about  Saturday’s game.  I can’t even imagine the town tomorrow if Costa Rica can pull off the upset.  Although, the way they have been playing I’m not so sure it would be a big upset.  Not to us that know this team anyway.

2014 World Cup

As an expat that has lived in Costa Rica for 15 years I couldn’t be any happier for my friends and what I consider my adopted country.  Like most North Americans I didn’t know squat about futbol (soccer for North Americans).  But it is damn near impossible to live in Latin America and not be exposed to the sport.  And through the years I have become a big fan.  But nothing matches the excitement of World Cup.  Especially when you are in a country currently doing so well.  Costa Ricans feel a pride with their national team.  Even people that are generally not interested in futbol are excited and pulling hard for their team.  There are many Colombians in Costa Rica and they are all celebrating hard too as they are in the quarterfinals also.  At the school right now there are another 5 or 6 nationalities represented so it has been a lot of fun here since the World Cup started.  I have high hopes that Costa Rica can pull off the win against the Netherlands tomorrow.  But no matter the outcome Costa Rica can be very proud of their showing in the 2014 World Cup and you can bet the rest of the world knows who they are now.

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