Oscar Ramírez, coach of Costa Rica’s Men’s National Soccer Team, raised some eyebrows when he presented his lineup for two preliminary games ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia: versus Scotland on March 23 and Tunisia on March 27.
The list includes backup goalie Kevin Briceño, forwards Yendrick Ruiz and Josué Mitchell, right wing Ian Smith and forwards Ulises Segura and Wilmer Azofeifa. All of these players had little or no participation in the classifying rounds for the World Cup.
“I want to see the [performance] of other guys,” Ramírez said at the news conference where he announced the lineup, explaining that he wants a deeper bench for the World Cup. “I’m looking for a Plan C and Plan D.”
Patrick Pemberton, who is usually the backup keeper to star Keylor Navas of Real Madrid, was left off of Ramírez’s list. An injury has sidelined Pemberton for the past two months.
At the conference, Ramírez was repeatedly questioned by the press about the absence of Jonathan McDonald, a major goal scorer for Costa Rica in its recent tournaments. Ramírez said the decision to leave McDonald home was a tactical decision.
Here’s the full lineup:
Goalkeepers: Keylor Navas (Real Madrid, Spain), Leonel Moreira (Herediano), Kevin Briceño (Saprissa).
Defense: Cristian Gamboa (Celtic, Scotland), Ian Smith (Norrkoping, Sweden), Bryan Oviedo (Sunderland, England), Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps, MLS), Francisco Calvo (Minnesota United, MLS), Rónald Matarrita (New York City, MLS), Johnny Acosta (Rionegro Aguilas, Colombia), Giancarlo González (Bolonia, Italy), Oscar Duarte (Epanyol, Spain).
Volantes: Wilmer Azofeifa (Santos), David Guzmán (Portland Timbers, MLS), Ulises Segura (DC United, MLS), Daniel Colindres (Saprissa), Rodney Wallace (New York FC, MLS), Bryan Ruiz (Sporting, Portugal)