The U.S. Women’s National Team will play one final game on home soil before departing for Brazil, taking on against Costa Rica on July 22 (8 p.m. CT; ESPN) at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas. Before the two teams take the field, here are five things to know about this familiar CONCACAF foe:
We Meet Again
The USA has faced Costa Rica more times than any other CONCACAF foe besides Canada and Mexico and is 13-0-0 all-time vs. Las Ticas. Most recently, the two teams met in February during CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying in Frisco, Texas, with the USA winning 5-0 on goals from Alex Morgan (2), Carli Lloyd, Crystal Dunn and Christen Press. The previous two matches between the two countries came at the beginning of the 2015 Women's World Cup Victory Tour, with the USA outscoring Costa Rica 15-2 in those games.
Club Teammates, Country Foes
Costa Rica’s captain Shirley Cruz plays in France with PSG and is a former teammate of Lindsey Horan and Tobin Heath, while forward Raquel Rodriguez, who helped Penn State to the NCAA title this past fall and won the Hermann Trophy as college soccer's top player, plays for Sky Blue FC in the NWSL alongside Kelley O’Hara.
A Growing Program
Costa Rica participated in its first FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015 after finishing as runner-ups in the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship behind the USA. Despite not qualifying for the Olympics, Costa Rica’s progress in the women's game is evident. At the World Cup, Las Ticas had a competitive tournament, tying two games in group play (1-1 with Spain and 2-2 with South Korea) while losing one (1-0 to Brazil).
Costa Rica's star performer is midfielder Shirley Cruz, who finished as runner-up in voting to Abby Wambach for the 2014 CONCACAF Women's Player of the Year award. Cruz, who plays at PSG in France, is the most-capped player on the Costa Rica roster with 72 and has scored 24 goals, also a team-leading mark. In 2006, Cruz signed with France’s Olympique Lyonnais, becoming only the second Costa Rican women’s football player to play league football outside the country. She went on to win multiple league titles with Lyon. Cruz then signed with PSG in 2012 and since then has made 94 appearances for the club while scoring 23 goals. This past season PSG finished second in Division 1 Feminine and made it to the semifinal of the UEFA Women’s Champions League.
Central American country Costa Rica is known for its tropical climate, great food and the infamous phrase Pura Vida, which translates to Pure Life/Good Life. The phrase reflects the Costa Rican way of life and it’s often exchanged between people in the streets.