Five Things to Know About Costa Rica

On Wednesday, the U.S. Men’s National Team saw off EL Salvador 2-0 to book its place in the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup Semifinals. The U.S. MNT will now meet long-time regional foe Costa Rica on Saturday night at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas (10 p.m. ET on FS1, Univision and UDN).

Here are five things you should know about Saturday’s opponent:

The Country, Flag and Nickname

Located in Central America, Costa Rica is bordered by Panama to the south, Nicaragua to the north, the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. With 4.8 million people, Costa Rica is the 11th most populous nation in North America.

The flag of Costa Rica was created in 1848 by Pacífica Fernández, wife of then president José María Castro Madriz. Inspired by the French Revolution, Fernández used the blue, white and red present in the French flag.

The blue color symbolizes the sky, opportunities, idealism and perseverance. The white reflects peace, wisdom and happiness. The red stands for the blood spilt by martyrs in defense of the country, as well as the warmth and generosity of the people.

The National Team nickname of “Los Ticos” mirrors the colloquial term which is used when referring to someone from Costa Rica.

Footballing History

Costa Rica’s recent ascendance to CONCACAF contender and international success followed many years as the best team in Central America. Los Ticos won seven of 10 competitions between Central America and the Caribbean countries prior to the formation of CONCACAF in 1961.

Even with the U.S. and Mexico in the mix, Costa Rica won the Gold Cup’s predecessor, the CONCACAF Cup, in 1963, 1969 and 1989. The last title earned Costa Rica a trip to its first World Cup in Italy, where it beat Scotland and Sweden in group play to reach the Round of 16 in 1990.

In 2002, Costa Rica started a stretch of three World Cup appearances in four chances and even earned another win against China. But they wouldn’t return to the knockout phase until 2014 in Brazil, where they won a group featuring Uruguay, Italy and England before falling to The Netherlands via penalty kicks in the Quarterfinals.

How They Got Here

Costa Rica qualified for its 13th CONCACAF Gold Cup by finishing fourth at the 2017 Copa Centroamericana in January.

During that tourament, a mostly domestic-based Ticos side earned a 1-3-1 record, defeating only Belize 3-0, while playing to draws with El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras.

So far this Gold Cup, Costa Rica began with a 1-0 victory against Honduras, played to a 1-1 draw with Canada and saw off French Guiana 3-0 in its Group Stage finale. In Wednesday’s Quarterfinal vs. Panama, they utilized a 77th minute own goal from Anibal Godoy to earn a 1-0 win and their first Semifinal appearance since 2009.

History vs. U.S. MNT

Having first met on Aug. 19, 1975, the U.S. and Costa Rica have played 35 times, with Costa Rica holding a slight 15-14-6 edge. Los Ticos join Mexico as one of only two CONCACAF nations to hold a winning record against the USA.

While the all-time series between the two sides is pretty tight, the USA has dominated the Gold Cup contests, going 6-0-1 in seven all-time meetings at the confederation championship.

Most notably, a Bruce Arena-led U.S. side defeated Los Ticos 2-0 in the 2002 Gold Cup Final, which also served as Costa Rica’s only appearance in the tournament’s championship match. Interestingly, Saturday’s Semifinal showdown comes 24 years and one day to the date of when the two teams met during the 1993 Gold Cup Semifinals, which the U.S. won 1-0 behind a golden goal from defender Cle Kooiman.

Check out the previous seven USA-Costa Rica Gold Cup meetings:

USA-Costa Rica All-Time Gold Cup Results



U.S. Goal Scorers


July 3, 1991

3-2 W

Perez, Vermes, og

Group Stage

July 21, 1993

1-0 W (asdet)*



Feb. 7, 1998

2-1 W

Pope, Preki

Group Stage

Feb. 2, 2002

2-0 W

Wolff, Agoos


July 26, 2003

3-2 W

Stewart, Bocanegra, Convey

Third-Place Match

July 12, 2005

0-0 D


Group Stage

July 16, 2013

1-0 W


Group Stage

*(asdet) refers to the past practice of deciding games via sudden death extra time a.k.a. “golden goal”

The Roster

Fourteen players on the Costa Rica roster are based domestically, five play in M.L.S., with one each in Italy, Portugal, Switzerland and Thailand. Midfielder David Guzman is teammates with U.S. MNT player Darlington Nagbe at the Portland Timbers.

GOALKEEPERS (3): Dany Carvajal (Deportivo Saprissa), Leonel Moreira (Herediano, CRC); Patrick Pemberton (LD Alajuelense)

DEFENDERS (9): Johnny Acosta (CS Herediano); Francisco Calvo (Minnesota United FC/USA); Giancarlo Gonzalez (Palermo/ITA); Kenner Gutiérrez (LD Alajuelense); Jhamir Ordain (Herediano), José Salvatierra (LD Alajuelense); Michael Umaña (CS Cartagines), Juan Pablo Vargas (Herediano), Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps FC/CAN)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Randall Azofeifa (CS Herediano); David Guzman (Portland Timbers/USA); Jimmy Marin (Herediano), Bryan Ruiz (Sporting Clube de Portugal/POR); Ulises Segura (Deportivo Saprissa); Yeltsin Tejeda (FC Lausanne-Sport/SUI); Rodney Wallace (New York City FC/USA)

FORWARDS (4): Jose Leiton (Herediano), David Ramírez (Deportivo Saprissa); Ariel Rodriguez (Bangkok Glass FC/THA); Marco Ureña (San Jose Earthquakes/USA);