Costa Rican football has undergone a transition with the star players who led the Ticos to the 2002 and 2006 World Cup largely moving on and fresher blood coming in. Some of the fresh faces in Costa Rica’s setup are not all that young however.
The generation of Wanchope, Medford, Fonseca, etc have given way to players of lesser stature and largely playing in the Costa Rican domestic league. As I have stated before, this Ticos side is less intimidating and has less quality than the sides the US faced in qualifying for the 1998, 2002 and 2006 World Cups.
This having been said Costa Rica is not without talent.The one greatest generation holdover in the attack is Walter Centano, legend of both the national team and CD Saprissa. Centano has never lost a game to the United States at home and will provide invaluable leadership tonight for the Ticos. Playing the traditional #10 role Centano has for years setup the likes of Wanchope and Fonseca perfectly in critical situations.
Andy Furtado, an attacking player who was not capped until he turned 28 last year scored twice against Honduras in the first match of the Hexagonal. Alvaro Saborio is a target of Stoke City in the EPL and could start up top with Furtado tonight. Another option for Manager Rodrigo Kenton up top is young Brian Ruiz, a player with potential that hasn’t stepped up as of yet in the biggest matches.
Furtado was livey and impressive against Honduras working well with the midfield and timing his runs well against the opposing offiside trap. Ruiz is young but has the most potential of the bunch. With the Ticos needing at worst a draw tonight to realistically keep their aim of finishing in the top 3 and gaining automatic qualification alive, expect to see all three strikers in this match.
Saborio will likely start with Furtado, but Ruiz could get the starting call instead. Costa Rica’s attack is unproven other than Centano, but playing at home with all to gain tends to bring the most out of the Ticos attackers. While none of these three are up to Wanchope or Fonseca’s level, they are certainly nothing to sneeze at either.
Whomever the US starts at right back tonight will be pushed and cannot stray too far up the pitch for fear of being caught on a counter attack. Steve Cherundolo has at times in his career made this mistake in qualifying and his absence today while not ideal may give the US more organization at the back.