With the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup launch less than two weeks away, CONCACAF.com will take a look at one of the 12 participants each day until July 7, when the competition kicks off at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.
Gold Cup Glance: Costa Rica
Head Coach: Oscar Ramirez (Costa Rica)
Qualification Method: 4th place, 2017 Copa Centroamericana
Previous Appearances: 12 (1991, 1993, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015)
Best Finish: Runner-up-1 (2002)
Record: 16W 15D 19L 76GF 63GA
Current GC All-Time Ranking: 3 out of 24
Biggest Win: 7-2 v Cuba (February 4, 1998); 5-0 v Cuba (June 5, 2011)
All-Time Leading GC Scorer: Walter Centeno (9 goals)
Costa Rica didn’t win a game in the CONCACAF Gold Cup for only the second time in 12 attempts, when it posted an overall record of 0W-3D-1L two years ago.
The Ticos, though, would have considered themselves somewhat unlucky. Three draws in the group stage were followed by an extra-time loss to eventual-champion Mexico, 1-0, in the quarterfinals. Andres Guardado’s late penalty kick (120’+4) was the difference in a game that proved little separated the sides.
In order to qualify for the 2017 Gold Cup, Costa Rica finished fourth in January’s Copa Centroamericana. Although that placement could be considered disappointing, especially after it won the previous two titles, there were good signs.
Defender Francisco Calvo continued to show in Panama why he is rightly considered one of CONCACAF’s top defenders. His ability to score gives potential opponents much to consider. Attacker Johan Venegas displayed valuable flexibility. Coincidentally, the pair are teammates at Minnesota United, which is playing its first Major League Soccer season in 2017.
Many established regulars didn’t participate in the Copa, but may be called upon for the Gold Cup. At the top of the list is Sporting Lisbon forward Bryan Ruiz, who was named the 2016 CONCACAF Player of the Year. Ruiz has two career Gold Cup goals remarkably scored 10 years apart. He netted in a 3-2 loss to Honduras in 2005 and in a 1-1 draw with El Salvador in 2015.
Costa Rica has been eliminated at the quarterfinal stage in each of the last three Gold Cups (by Honduras in 2011 and 2013; and Mexico in 2015).