Five Things to Know: Costa Rica

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Following a spirited win over hosts Mexico to close out first round play and finish atop Group A at the 2022 Concacaf W Championship, the U.S. Women’s National Team now quickly shifts its focus to the knockout round where it will take on Group B runner-up Costa Rica on Thursday, July 14 at Estadio BBVA in Monterrey, Mexico. (7 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. on CBS Sports Network, Paramount+ and ViX). The USA will play in the first semifinals of the evening followed by Canada vs. Jamaica (10 p.m. ET / 9 p.m. CT on CBS Sports Network, Paramount+ and ViX). 

The four semifinalists have all qualified for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup and are now playing for the Concacaf crown as well as an automatic berth to the 2024 Paris Olympics, which will go to the tournament champion. The second and third-place finishers will play-off for Concacaf’s second and final Olympic berth in September of 2023. Costa Rica is headed back to the World Cup for the first time since 2015, but Las Ticas have never qualified for the Olympics in women’s soccer.

Prepare for the semifinal showdown with Five Things to Know.

LAST TIME OUT

Costa Rica won its two matches of the Concacaf W Championship in convincing fashion, defeating Panama, 3-0, in the tournament opener followed by a 4-0 victory over Trinidad & Tobago on the second day of Group B play.

With a top-two group finish and a spot in Australia and New Zealand already secured, Costa Rica fell to Canada, 2-0, in the group finale on Monday evening. Canada opened the scoring in the fifth minute with a goal from midfielder Jessie Fleming, becoming the first team to score on La Sele this tournament. The Canadians doubled their advantage in the 69th minute with a tally from Sophie Schmidt and outshot Costa Rica, 15-3, overall. 

Despite failing to find the back of the net against Canada, Costa Rica finished the group stage with seven goals scored, good for third among all teams in group play. Midfielder Katherine Alvarado and forward Cristin Granados lead Costa Rica and are tied for third among all players this tournament with two goals each.

Goalkeeper Daniela Solera and defenders Mariana Benavides, Daniela Cruz and Maria Paula Coto and forward Fabiola Villalobos have played every minute so far for Costa Rica at the Concacaf W Championship, logging all 270 minutes during the group stage.

LA SELE HEADED DOWN UNDER

With its victories over Panama and Trinidad & Tobago, Costa Rica punched its ticket to the 2023 Women’s World Cup on Tuesday, July 8, becoming the 13th team overall and second from Concacaf to qualify for Australia and New Zealand. This will be the second Women’s World Cup ever for Costa Rica, which made its World Cup debut in Canada in 2015. The Costa Ricans distinguished themselves in Canada, going unbeaten in its first two matches of the group stage, drawing Spain 1-1 in its first ever World Cup match and tying Korea Republic 2-2 in the second. Costa Rica lost to Brazil, 1-0, on an crushing 83rd minute goal in the last match of the group stage to finish third in Group E.

INSIDE THE ROSTER

Seventeen of the 23 players called in by Costa Rica head coach Amelia Valverde play their club soccer in Costa Rica’s Women’s First Division, including seven players from reigning champions Alajuelense. Of the six players who play their club soccer abroad, two compete in Mexico, with defender Valeria del Campo playing at the stadium which will host the USA-CRC match for CF Monterrey and forward Michelle Montero playing for Cruz Azul.

 

Raquel “Rocky” Rodriguez is the lone player on this roster who currently plays in the United States, where she plays alongside several members of the USWNT with Portland Thorns FC. Rodriguez, who scored Costa Rica’s first-ever goal at the World Cup in the 2015 draw against Spain, won NWSL Rookie of the Year honors in 2016 following a standout collegiate career at Penn State University that also included a MAC Hermann Trophy as college soccer’s best player. She has traded to the Thorns in January of 2020 and helped the club capture both the NWSL Shield and Challenge Cup title in 2021.

Like the USA, Costa Rica has had to make an injury replacement during the Concacaf W Championship. Goalkeeper Priscilla Tapia, who had yet to see action this tournament, suffered a hand injury and was replaced on the roster by 17-year-old goalkeeper Genesis Perez.

COSTA RICA WOMEN’S NATIONAL SOCCER TEAM BY POSITION


GOALKEEPERS (3):
1-Noelia Bermudez (Alajuelense), 23-Daniela Solera (C.D. Santa Teresa, ESP), 24- Genesis Perez (Unattached)

 

DEFENDERS (8): 2-Gabriela Guillen (Alajuelense), 3-Maria Puala Coto (Alajuelense), 4-Mariana Benavides (CS Herediano), 5-Valeria del Campo (CF Monterrey, MEX), 6-Carol Sanchez (Sporting FC), 8-Daniela Cruz (Deportivo Saprissa), 12-Lixy Rodriguez (Alajuelense), 22-Cristel Sandi (Deportivo Saprissa)

 

MIDFIELDERS (6): 10-Shirley Cruz (Alajuelense), 11-Raquel Rodriguez (Portland Thorns FC, USA), 13-Emilie Valenciano (Sporting FC), 14-Priscila Chinchilla (Glasgow City FC, SCO), 16-Katherine Alvarado (Deportivo Saprissa), 21-Viviana Chinchilla (Alajuelense)

 

FORWARDS (6): 7-Melissa Herrera (FC Girdondins de Bordeaux, FRA), 9-Carolina Venegas (Deportivo Saprissa), 15-Cristin Granados (Sporting FC), 17-Michelle Montero (Cruz Azul, MEX), 19-Maria Paula Salas (Unattached), 20-Fabiola Villalobos (Alajuelense)

SERIES HISTORY: USA VS. COSTA RICA

Thursday’s semifinal matchup will be the 17th meeting all-time between the USA and Costa Rica and the 10th between the countries in World Cup or Olympic Qualifying. The USA has won all 16 previous matchups against Costa Rica.

The most recent meeting between the teams came during Olympic Qualifying in 2020 as the USA downed Costa Rica, 6-0, in the final match of group play in Houston, Texas. Samantha Mewis and Christen Press both netted braces in the victory while Lindsey Horan and Jessica McDonald also scored in the win.

The USA and Costa Rica last met in the knockout stages of qualifying in 2014, when the USA downed Costa Rica, 6-0, in the final of the 2014 Concacaf Women’s Championship.

SUMMER OF WOMEN’S SOCCER CONTINUES FOR COSTA RICA

While La Sele will play its final match of this 2022 Concacaf W Championship on Monday, July 18 – as the Third-Place Match (7 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. CT) and Final (10 p.m. ET / 9 p.m. CT) will both be played that day at Estadio BBVA – an important summer of women’s soccer is just getting started in Costa Rica. The country will play host to the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup, which will run from August 10-28. This will be Costa Rica’s first time hosting the U-20 Women’s World Cup, though they played host to the Under-17 Women’s World Cup in 2014. Costa Rica heads a difficult Group A which also features Costa Rica Australia, Spain and Brazil.

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