The final mejenga (“match”) of the World Cup is set for Sunday afternoon. While La Sele (“Costa Rica’s national team”) won’t be playing, you can still watch the game like a Tico with our handy Spanish guide to football slang in Costa Rica.
That way you’ll know exactly what to say when Germany’s Miroslav Klose scores on a jupita (“header”) or when Lionel Messi makes the game-winner with a chilena (“bicycle kick”). Expect a lot of great plays from all the cracks (“star players”) on the field. And don’t forget to scream ¡Lo pintó de rojo! (“Give him a red card”) at your TV if a caballo (“a rough player”) makes a dirty play.
Abrir la cancha (“To open the field”) – To kick the ball towards the sidelines to make the playing field wider in order to better guard a team’s attack.
Acariciar el esférico / la bola (“To caress the ball”) — To kick the ball with a gentle touch; to have great ball control.
Ex. Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the best players in the world because he can acariciar el esférico so well.
Ariete — A forward; a striker.
Arquero — A goalie.
Barrida — A slide tackle.
Bicicleta (“bicycle”) — When the player makes a distracting movement with one leg, but takes the ball with the other.
Caballo (“horse”) – A rough player.
Cancerbero – A goalie; named after “Cerberus,” the mythological 3-headed dog that guarded the entrance to the underworld.
Chilena – A bicycle kick.
Ex: “A chilena by Raúl Jiménez saved Mexico’s life during World Cup qualifying.”
Comerse la cancha (“To eat up the field”) – When a player is running up and down the field the whole match with little time to rest.
Crack — A great player.
El uno-dos (“The one-two”) — A play where one player passes the ball to a teammate and he returns it immediately to the same player.
Jupa/jupita — A header.
La voló — To kick the ball over the goal.
La Sele/La Tricolor — Costa Rica’s national team.
Le dió al mundo (“To kick the earth”): To kick the ground instead of the ball.
Le dió con la de palo — To kick the ball with the weaker leg.
Mamón (“Sucker”) — A player who takes the ball and runs with it to the opposite goal without making a single pass to any of his teammates. Then the player immediately loses the ball on the other end; a ballhog.
Mano a mano (“Hand-to-hand combat”): When a player faces the goalie one-on-one.
Marco — Goal.
Mejenga – Used for pick-up football matches, but also applies to any match.
Milpa (“a cornfield”) — Offsides.
Patea más un pollito/perico en una bolsa — When a player kicks a ball too weakly to score.
¡Píntelo! (“Paint him”) – Give the player a yellow card or red card for a foul.
Piscinazo — A dive.
Ex. “The Netherlands’ Arjen Robben is notorious for his piscinazos.”
Planchetazo — To kick an opponent using the studs of one’s cleats.
Ex. “Portugal’s Pepe is a caballo who has committed some infamous plachetazos.”
Repartir bizcocho — To play roughly.
Sacar agua del barco/bote (“To remove water from the boat”) — When a defender kicks the ball in any direction just to keep it far from the goal.
Salir a cazar mariposas (“To catch butterflies”) — When the goalie jumps to catch a ball and fails.
Ex. “A compilation of goalies saliendo a cazar mariposas.”
Sombrero — To pass the ball over the opponent’s head; also known as “baño.”
Se echó la pata al hombro — When a player misses the ball and swings his leg in the air.
Tacos — Football shoes, also cleats.
Tapada/tapadón (“covered”) – A great save by a goalie.
Ex. “Costa Rica’s Keylor Navas had made some great tapadas on Lionel Messi when the two met in Spain’s league.”
Taquito – A heel pass.
Ex: “Costa Rica scored its first-ever World Cup goal on a taquito from Claudio Jara to Juan Cayasso against Scotland in 1990.”
(Un) Túnel — To pass the ball through an opponent’s legs; called “nut megging” or a “panna” in English.
Ex. Germany’s Miroslav Klose uses un túnel to get by a Swedish defender.
Volar lima — A rough play.
Zaguero – The defense.
Zapatazo — A powerful kick.