The Costa Rica national soccer teams are both in action this weekend, beginning Friday evening when the women face Haiti as part of the qualifying tournament for the 2020 Olympics.
The Costa Rica men’s team will meet the United States on Saturday afternoon in an international friendly.
Here’s what to watch for in both Costa Rica soccer matches.
Costa Rica women vs. Haiti
With a win against Haiti, La Sele can all but guarantee a spot in the semifinal round of the CONCACAF tournament, which determines which two teams will represent the region at the Tokyo Olympics.
In its first match, Costa Rica dominated Panama, 6-1. Meanwhile, Haiti more than held its own in a 4-0 loss against the United States — a first-half equalizer was inexplicably called back, and the North Americans didn’t take a two-goal lead until the 67th minute.
Most everyone expects the United States to win the group and earn all nine points, but a victory against Haiti will leave Costa Rica in position reach the tournament’s final four.
While not a traditionally strong women’s soccer nation, Haiti has seen recent success. Most notably, the under-20 team qualified for the 2018 U-20 World Cup — the first FIFA event for the country’s women’s program.
In preparation for this CONCACAF tournament, the Haitians tied Canada — currently the world’s eighth-ranked team — in a closed-door scrimmage.
Kickoff is Friday at 5 p.m. CST. The match will be played at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.
Costa Rica men vs. the United States
The Costa Rica men’s national team will face a familiar opponent when it meets the United States in Saturday’s friendly.
For both sides, the match will present an opportunity to experiment with young faces in their first contest of 2020. Later this year, the competition will be fiercer as both teams have qualified for the CONCACAF Nations League semifinals (Costa Rica vs. Mexico; USA vs. Honduras) and will begin World Cup qualifying.
With such youth-heavy rosters, Saturday’s contest will also preview the upcoming CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship. Costa Rica and the United States’s under-23 sides will meet in that tournament’s group stage in March.
Keep an eye out for Costa Rica’s Manfred Ugalde, a 17-year-old striker who would be making his debut with La Sele. Meanwhile, Costa Rica’s most-senior player for this match, LA Galaxy defender Giancarlo Gonzalez, would be playing at his home stadium.
The USMNT and Costa Rica have a 16-16-6 head-to-head record since 1975, with each side dominating on their home turf.
Kickoff is Saturday at 3 p.m. CST from Dignity Health Sports Park near Los Angeles.