Sunday, December 28, 2014

Costa Rica Greatest All-time 23 member team

Costa Rica 2014

Costa Rica is the most successful national team in the region after USA and Mexico.   Before the 1990's, Los Ticos won three CONCACAFA Championships in 1963, 1969 and 1989. They also went to two Olympics in 1980 and 1984.  Then, in 1990, they shocked the world at the WC Finals in Italy.  They advanced to the 2nd round by beating Sweden and Scotland.  In 2014, Costa Rica made another strong run at the World Cup Finals.  They were grouped in the Group of Death with England, Uruguay and Italy.  They responded by beating both Italy and Uruguay before drawing England in the final and meaningless game.  They beat Greece in the round of 16 before losing to Holland in a penalty shootout during the quarterfinal.  The result was one of the best ever CONCACAFA finish at the WC Finals.

I also created an all-time CONCACAFA team that excluded players from the big three. 
World Cup 1990

GK: Keylor Navas 
After starting out at Saprissa Keylor Navas moved to Albacete in 2010, and then to Levante in La Liga.  After a great performance with Levante, he won the La Liga Keeper of the Year award for 2014 with Levante.  Then, he led Costa Rica to the quarter-final of the World Cup in Brazil.  After the World Cup Finals, he earned a transfer to Real Madrid.  With Real Madrid, he won three Champions League title as their starting keeper. He also played in the 2018 World Cup Finals.
Keylor Naves
GK: Luis Gabelo Conejo
Luis Gabelo Conejo was the hero of Los Ticos' World Cup run in 1990, where they reached the 2nd round.  He made the Team of the Tournament.  He had 29 caps for Costa Rica. For his club career, he played mainly for Ramonense and Albacete, during a 17-year professional career. He was a n idol with Albacete as the club reached La Liga for the first time ever in 1991.

GK: Erick Lonnis 
Erick Lonnis is the all-time leading cap leader for a keeper in Costa Rica.  He captained the national team at the Korea/Japan 2002.  He played moots his career with Deportivo Saprissa.  He was the captain for Saprissa during several seasons, where he won four national championships, as well as two CONCACAF Champions Cup in 1993 and 1995. He is an all-time great at there.

RB/CB: Michael Umaña
Michael Umaña has played for Los Ticos since 2004.  He went to the World Cup Finals in 2006 and 2014.  He was a part of the great defensive units at Brazil 2014 in which Los Ticos reached the quarter-final.  At the time of writing, he had over 100 caps. He played for many clubs all over the world, including stints in the USA, Iran, etc.

CB: Roger Flores
Roger Flores was the captain of the national team that advanced to the 2nd round of the Italia 1990.  He  played for the two most popular teams, Alajuelense and Saprissa.  He started out in Alajuela in the mid 80's, and was part of the team that won the CONCACAF Champions Cup in 1986. With Saprissa, he won another two more CONCACAF Champions Cup.

CB: Luis Marín
Luis Marín earned 128 caps with Costa Rica.  He spent most of his career with Alajuelense, but he also had stints in Uruguay and Israel.  He was Israel Foreign Player of the Year in 2006-2007 while playing with Maccabi Netanya.  He played in all 3 games during both the 2002 and 2006 World Cups Finals.

CB: Gilberto Martinez
Gilberto Martinez was capped 61 times for Costa Rica.  He played for Costa Rica at the World Cup Finals in 2002 and 2006.  He also payed the 2001 Copa America. After the World Cup Finals in 2002, he left Deportivo Saprissa to play in Europe,  He joined Brescia in Italy, where he played over 200 games.  He had brief loan spells with Roma and Lecce. He also played for Monza and ACD Nardo. He spent over 10 seasons playing in Italy in both Serie A and Serie B.  
Gilberto Martinez
CB:  Mario Cordero
Mario Cordero played for Costa Rica between 1950 and 1963.  He was considered a legend with Saprissa and one of Costa Rica's greatest defenders.  He was better known as Catato or Piernas de Oro.  Catato was the leader and captain of Deportivo Saprissa during the 50's and early 60's. He had one season in the Mexican league, with Atletico Marte.

CB: Giancarlo González
Giancarlo González had been capped over 70 times at the time of writing.  He was included in the BBC's team of the tournament for World Cup Finals in 2014. He went to Russia for the World Cup Finals four years later. He earned a big move to Palermo in Italy after the 2014 World Cup Finals.  In 2017, he joined Bologna. He previously played domestic football in Norway and the USA.  

CB: Óscar Duarte
Óscar Duarte was born in Nicaragua, but played for Costa Rica.  He was a part of the great defensive at the 2014 World Cup Finals, where Costa Rica only gave up a single goal in group stage and reached the quarterfinal.  He also played in the World Cup Finals in 2018.  He played for Deportivo Sarprissa at home.  In 2013, he moved to Club Brugge in Belgium and then, to Espanyol in 2016.

LB: Bryan Oviedo
At the time of writing, Bryan Oviedo plays for Sunderland in England.  He previously played in Norway and Denmark.  In 2012, he moved to Everton in England, spending nearly 5 seasons there. He missed the 2014 World Cup Finals through an injury, but went to Russia four years later in 2018. He was selected for his national squad at the Copa América Centenario in 2016. 

DM:  Mauricio Solis
Mauricio Solis was an important player during the later 1990's and 2000's.  He was capped 110 times.  Solís was the second Costa Rican behind Luis Marín to reach 100 caps. He went to both World Cup Finals in 2002 and 2006.  He also played at the 1997 and 2001 Copa América.  For his club career, he played in England, the MLS and Mexico.

CM: Celso Borges
His father Alexandre Guimarães who was born in Brazil represented Los Ticos at the World Cup in 1990, where Costa Rica reached the second round.  Celso Borges himself helped Costa Rica to reach the quarter-final at World Cup Finals in 2014.  He was one of the best players at the World Cup U-16 in 2005. He played professionally with Deportivo Sarprissa and AIK in Sweden. At the time of writing, he plays for Göztepe S.K. in Turkey.
Celso Borges
AM:  Walter Centeno
Walter Centeno is the cap record holder for Costa Rica, having gained 137 cap.  He is considered one of the best players of his generation.  He played in the World Cup Finals of 2002 and 2006.  He went to three Copa America tournaments. For his club career, he played mainly for Saprissa, winning a CONCACAF Champions League. He also had a brief spell in Greece.

AM:  Oscar Ramírez
Nicknamed El Machillo (The Blonde), Oscar Ramírez earned 75 caps for Costa Rica and went to the World Cup Finals  in 1990.  For his club career, he played for both Alajuelense and Saprissa.  With Alajuelense he won four national championships during the 1980s and early 1990s, as well as a CONCACAF Champions Cup in 1986.

FW/RW: Hernán Medford
After three years at Deportivo Saprissa, Hernán Medford headed to Europe in 1990. He played in several different leagues worldwide, including Foggia Calcio, Dinamo Zagreb, Rapid Wien, Rayo Vallecano, and in the Mexican Primera Division, with Pachuca, León and Necaxa.  Pachuca decided to retire Medford's number 17 after he scored his 100th goal in his career. Medford  gained international flame at the World Cup in 1990 when Los Ticos reached the 2nd round.  
Hernán Medford
FW/RW: Bryan Ruiz
Bryan Ruiz was the captain of the national team that reached the quarter-final of the 2014 World Cup Finals.  At the time of writing, he has over 100 caps. He played with Alajuelense at home before moving abroad in 2006.  He played for Genk, Twente, Fulham, PSV and now, Sporting CP.  He is the CONCACAF Player of the Year in 2016

SS: Rolando Fonseca
Nicknamed El Principito, Rolando Fonseca earned 113 caps for his country. He is also the all-time leading scorer for Costa Rica.  He went to the World Cup Finals in 2002, but was not selected for 2006.  For club football, Fonseca played for Comunicaciones in Guatemala, Independiente Medellín and América de Cali in Colombia, Pachuca and Pachuca in Mexico, as well as having home spells with Deportivo Saprissa, Alajuelense and Municipal Liberia.
Rolando Fonseca
FW: Ronald Gomez  
He was one of the greatest Costa Rican players.  He was capped 93 times.  He went to the WC in 2002 and 2006.  He played in 6 countries.  He started with Alajuelense before heading to play in Europe. He has played in 6 different countries: in Spain with Sporting Gijón and Hercules of Alicante, in Guatemala with Municipal,  in Greece with OFI Crete, in Kuwait with Al Qadsia, in Mexico with Irapuato and in Cyprus with APOEL.  He also played for Saprissa at home.

FW: Alejandro Morera Soto
Alejandro Morera Soto started his career with Alajuelense in 1925. He first joined Espanyol before joining Barcelona FC in 1933. He was a part of the legendary Barcelona of the 1930's, where he was their top scorer for the 1933-1934 season.  He earned the nickname "El fenomeno costarricense" ("The Costa Rican phenomenon") in Barcelona. He scored over 60 goals for them.  He also played for Hercules and La Havre.  He played 7 times and scored 6 goals for Costa Rica.
Alejandro Morera Soto

FW: José Rafael Meza Ivancovich
He was one of the greatest players in Costa Rica during the 1940's.  He started his career with Club Sport Cartaginés.  he went to play for Moctezuma in Mexico, where he was the top league scoer in his first season.  He later joined Estudiantes de La Plata in Argenmtina and Atlante in Mexico, where he was a top player in the Mexican league. He also played in Colombia and Honduras. The Club Sport Cartaginés' stadium was named after him.

ST: Evaristo Coronado
Coronado is one of the most recognized sports figures in his country. He played his entire career of 14 seasons for Deportivo Saprissa, where he holds the team record for most appearances made and goals scored ever.  He played with the Ticos  in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. He was Costa Rica's top scorer in the 1990 World Cup qualifiers, but was dropped by coach Bora Milutinovic for the World Cup Finals, despite a national cry for his inclusion.

FW: Paulo Wanchope
Paulo Wanchope was probably the most successful Costa Rican player playing in Europe in the modern era. He played for Derby, West Ham. Manchester City, Malaga, FC Tokyo, Chicago Fire, etc. Internationally, he had 73 caps for Los Ticos between 1996 and 2008.  He also played in the 2002 World Cup Finals in Korea/Japan 2002 and then, the World Cup Finals four years later in Germany. He is Costa Rica's second all-time leading scorer at the World Cup Finals.
Paulo Wanchope

Honorable Mention
Javier Jiménez, Álvaro Saborío, Christian Bolaños, Francisco “Chico” Hernández Ramírez, Errol Daniels, Evaristo Coronado, Juan Ulloa, Marco Ureña, Errol Daniels.

Squad Explanation
-- I selected 6 players(and a 7th player who missed the WC Final because of an injury) from the World Cup 2014 team because no Costa Rican team have done more than that team.  They did not not only advanced to the quarterfinal.  They actually emerged from the Group of Death that included Italy, Uruguay and England.  They did with ease too.  They only failed at the quarterfinal by penalty kicks against Holland, the finalist in 2010 and the semifinalist in 2014.  The 7 players were Michael Umaña, Giancarlo Gonzalez, Oscar Durate, Bryan Oviedo, Celso Borges and Bryan Ruiz and Keylor Navas.
-- Keylor Navas helped Costa Rica to reach the quaterfinal of the 2014 World Cup Finals.  He also won two Champons League titles as the starting keeper.  He has achieved more than any other players from Costa Rica.  He is my number one keeper even through
Luis Gabelo Conejo is a strong candidate.
-- Costa Rica under manager Bora Milutinović beat Sweden and Scotland to qualify for the second round of the 1990 World Cup Finals. From the 1990 World Cup team, I selected 6 players: Hernan Medfored, Roger Flores, Luis Gabelo Conejo, Celso Borges and Oscar Ramirez.
-- Joel Campbell was originally selected for his performance at the World Cup Finals as well as his career with Arsenal.  Unfortunately, his career is not well as what I envisioned after the WC Finals in 2014. In 2018, I decided to replace him with Evaristo Coronado.
-- I only have three players who played before the 1990's.  Alejandro Morera Soto had a fantastic career with Barcelona FC.   José Rafael Meza Ivancovich was a pioneer in Costa Rica.
-- Ricardo Saprissa was the founder of Deportivo Saprissa, but he was born in El Salvador.  I do not know of his citizenship.  He did not move to Costa Rica until 1932 after he finished his playing career. I listed him as a El Salvadoran for my greatest Central America team.  He is definitely a great contributor to Costa Rican football, but this blog is about playing the game as a Costa Rican player.  He does not qualify.

Starting lineup
Formation 4-4-2
I started four players from the current generation and an old-timer.  Celso Borges  is the surprise starter.  I need a more balanced midfield.


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