Five Things to Know About: Costa Rica

Presented By Thorne

After two wins so far at the 2020 Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament, the U.S. Women’s National Team qualified for the semifinal round and will now face Costa Rica on Feb. 3 (7:30 CT on FS1 and TUDN) for the title of Group A. Costa Rica defeated Panama, 6-1, and Haiti 2-0, to get to this de facto Group A title match. Here are five things to know about Las Ticas.

Roster by Position

GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Noelia Bermudez (Codea), 13-Dinnia Diaz (Saprissa), 18-Priscilla Tapia (Herediano)

DEFENDERS (8): 2-Gabriela Guillen (Saprissa), 3-Maria Paula Coto (Herediano), 4-Mariana Benavides (Herediano), 5-Fabiola Sanchez (Codea), 6-Carol Sanchez (Herediano), 8-Daniela Cruz (Espanyol, ESP), 12-Lixy Rodriguez (Codea), 15-Stephannie Blanco (Codea)  

MIDFIELDERS (5): 9-Gloriana Villalobos (Saprissa), 10-Shirley Cruz (Codea), 11-Raquel Rodriguez (Portland Thorns FC, USA), 16-Katherine Alvarado (Espanyol, ESP), 20-Raquel Chacon (Codea)    

FORWARDS (4): 7-Melissa Herrera (Stade Reims, FRA), 14-Priscila Chinchilla (Codea), 17-Maria Paula Salas (Codea), 19-Jazmin Elizondo (Herediano)

USA vs. Costa Rica

The teams most recently met in the final game of 2019 in Jacksonville, a 6-0 U.S. win on goals from Carli Lloyd, Morgan Brian, Lynn Williams (2) Christen Press and an Own Goal that was created by Margaret Purce. The USA out-shot Costa Rica 17-6 in that match. The USA has faced Costa Rica more times than any other CONCACAF foe besides Canada and Mexico. The WNT is 15-0-0 all-time vs. Costa Rica and before the match at the end of last year, most recently played Las Ticas in the final match before the 2016 Olympics, a 4-0 win in Kansas City, Mo.

2016 Olympic Qualifying

The USA and Costa Rica met to open the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Frisco, Texas in 2016. The USA scored seconds into the match through Alex Morgan, had a 3-0 lead inside of 16 minutes, and went on to win 5-0 on goals from Morgan (2), Carli Lloyd, Crystal Dunn and Christen Press. At the 2016 Concacaf Olympic Women’s Qualifying Tournament, Costa Rica finished second in Group A behind the USA and then lost to Canada, 3-1, in the all-important semifinal that determined the Olympic berth. Rodriguez scored her side’s lone goal in that match.

How They Got Here

Costa Rica qualified for the Concacaf 2020 Olympic Women’s Qualifying Tournament by winning a three-team group, which it hosted, at the CONCACAF Women’s Central American 2020 Olympic Qualifiers in that also included El Salvador and Nicaragua. Costa Rica opened the group with a 2-0 win over Nicaragua thanks to goals from Chinchilla and Maria Paula Salas. Costa Rica then polished off the group in style, earning a 5-0 win against El Salvador courtesy of a brace from Raquel Rodriguez and goals from Chinchilla, Salas and Sofia Varela. It marked the fifth time that Costa Rica have qualified for the Concacaf WOQ.

Talented Squad

So far in this tournament, former Penn State All-American Raquel Rodriguez, who won the MAC Hermann Trophy in 2015, scored both goals against Haiti, one on a spectacular header. She also had one against Panama in the first game, along with two goals from Melissa Herrera, and one from Priscila Chinchilla, Jazmin Elizondo and long-time captain Shirley Cruz. Cruz is Costa Rica’s all-time greatest player. The midfielder played a remarkable 14 years in France with Lyon and then with Paris Saint-Germain before playing a year in China and now has returned to Costa Rica. Representative of the improving level of CONCACAF women’s soccer, four players on this roster play outside of Costa Rica, including forward Rodriguez, who played for Sky Blue FC in the NWSL before getting traded to the Portland Thorns this off-season. She has played 76 games in the NWSL over four seasons and has eight career goals, including three in 2019. Costa Rica brought a similar roster to Olympic Qualifying to the one that faced the USA in the final game of 2019. Fourteen of the players on that roster for the 6-0 loss to the USA in Jacksonville are on this qualifying squad.