Wait over, Costa Rica excited for semifinal return
Costa Rica players (pictured) celebrate after scoring against Panama during their CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal on July 19, 2017, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. (Photo: AFP Services)

PHILADELPHIA – For Francisco Calvo and Costa Rica, the wait is over.

For the first time since 2009, the Ticos are in the CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals.  It took a tight 1-0 victory over Panama to confirm a final-four date with the United States.

“It’s really exciting because we were waiting for this for a long time,” said Calvo, who plays in the U.S. with Minnesota United.  “I think we deserve it a lot.  Football is tough.  Panama did well too, but we deserved more to win.”

The final result was due to an own-goal by Anibal Godoy off a David Guzman free kick lofted into the penalty area.

“Obviously, we would have loved to make a pretty game and a little bit more more fluid, but sometimes games are like this,” Costa Rica defender Kendall Waston said.  “We take this as a final and sometimes finals, it doesn’t matter who plays well and who plays bad, the key is to win it.”

Waston was called into the team after the group stage.  The Vancouver Whitecaps FC standout made the seamless transition into the Ticos’ backline, which recorded a clean sheet for the third time in four matches at the Gold Cup.

“It was one of our first goals to have a clean sheet,” Calvo commented.  “I think we did well in the back and we also have some chances in front.  Now we have to recover and try to do our best the next game.”

The Costa Ricans will return to action Saturday against the U.S., a side which they defeated 4-0 in World Cup Qualifying last November.  In Gold Cup play, though, the Central American power has never beaten the five-time champion, losing six of the seven encounters.

“It feels good, very good to make a kind of history with the national team,” finished Waston.  “Now we’re just looking forward for the next game and trying to get into the finals.”