Costa Rica unveiled its 23-man roster for a friendly against the United States on Feb. 1.
…I fucks with it.
Since Feb. 1 isn’t a sanctioned FIFA date, clubs aren’t required to release their players. Ronald Gonzalez only had in-form players from La Primera and preseason MLS players at his disposal. With 2020 being a World Cup qualifying year, this is an opportunity for a few fringe players to state their case ahead of the Hex.
To his credit, Gonzalez chose enough quality fringe players to make this meaningless friendly watchable.
The roster isn’t without its flaws. The likes of Gerson Torres, Ricardo Blanco, David Ramirez and Marvin Angulo aren’t present—someone still needs to tell me what the fuck Aaron Cruz is doing here too—but it’s not difficult to piece together a quality lineup.
Logic dictates that in-form players shore up the back line. Defending is not an area where you want to rely on players still working out the kinks. Keysher Fuller, Pablo Arboine and Keyner Brown have all collected a majority of the minutes in Costa Rica. All three should get the start.
The combination of Fuller’s pace, technique and ability to actually cross the fucking ball makes him the most complete right back in the player pool. No one expects Brown to make a World Cup roster, but the possibility is there for Arboine. After bouncing around Europe the last few years, the 21-year-old center back returned to Costa Rica for more consistent minutes, something he’s enjoyed at San Carlos.
In midfield, Bernald Alfaro is the most talented name you don’t know yet. The 22-year-old holding midfielder still struggles to find minutes for Alajuelense, but that has more to do with the club’s idiotic reliance on Jose Miguel Cubero. Thankfully, Cubero isn’t here to get in the way.
An attack-minded pair of Ulises Segura and Johan Venegas give Alfaro enough technicians to distribute to.
The front three is where the fun happens.
My love for Randall Leal is WELL documented. Luis Diaz started to make a name for himself in MLS last season, scoring two goals and providing four assists in his 13 starts. Manfred Ugalde was born in 2002.
If that isn’t impressive enough, the 17-year-old striker has already caught the eye of top European clubs, namely Atletico Madrid and Benfica.
That lineup is exciting enough for me to waste an hour of my time to write this article.
…but that’s not the lineup we are going to see. We’ll probably going to be forced to watch this shit.
Remember, this is still Ronald Gonzalez we’re talking about.
Unfortunately, that’s the conversation we need to be having before it’s too late.