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Sunday, May 22, 2022

No Keylor Navas as Costa Rica prepares for Gold Cup

The Costa Rican men’s national soccer team, now headed by Colombian coach Luis Fernando Suárez, presented on Thursday the final roster with which it will enter the Gold Cup, the most important CONCACAF tournament.

The Ticos will travel to the tournament, which starts on July 10, without several of their main stars, including Paris Saint Germain goalkeeper Keylor Navas, and Bochum defender Cristian Gamboa, who were reported by their clubs as injured.

Nor will the 18-year-old Manfred Ugalde, from Twente in the Netherlands, be there.

The contest will be the first challenge for Suárez with the Costa Rican national team, after the previous coach, Ronald González, was dismissed, after accumulating 11 games in a row without winning.

That statistic is shared by only nine other teams on the planet, most of them located in the bottom 10 countries of the FIFA ranking. Costa Rica has fallen to 50th.

Suárez, who only arrived on Costa Rican soil last week, will make his debut as Costa Rica’s helmsman in Group C of the Gold Cup, in which he will have as rivals Suriname, Jamaica and an opponent that, less than two weeks before the tournament starts, is still unknown.

According to the Concacaf elimination schedules, that team will be defined in the next five days.

After the Gold Cup, Costa Rica will start the octagonal final of the Concacaf qualifier for the Qatar 2022 World Cup with three matches in September.

Suárez led Ecuador to the World Cup in Germany (2006) and Honduras to Brazil (2014).

Those called up for the Gold Cup are:

Goalkeepers: Leonel Moreira (Alajuelense), Esteban Alvarado (Herediano), Patrick Sequeira (Real Unión, Spain).

Defenders: Óscar Duarte (Levante, Spain), Kendall Waston (Saprissa), Francisco Calvo (Chicago Fire, USA), Keysher Fuller (Herediano), Yael López (Herediano), Bryan Oviedo (Copenhagen FC, Denmark), Ronald Matarrita (Cincinnati FC, USA), Giancarlo González (Los Angeles Galaxy, USA).

Midfielders: Celso Borges (Deportivo La Coruña, Spain), Allan Cruz (Cincinnati FC, USA), Ariel Lassiter (Houston Dynamo, USA), David Guzmán (Saprissa), Bryan Ruiz (Alajuelense), Johan Venegas (Alajuelense), Alonso Martínez (Alajuelense), Jimmy Marín (Saprissa), Yeltsin Tejeda (Herediano).

Forwards: Joel Campbell (León, Mexico), José Guillermo Ortiz (Deportes Tolima, Colombia) and Ariel Rodríguez (Saprissa).

Costa Rica’s group stage matches will be as follows at Exploria Stadium in Orlando:

  • Monday, July 12 at 9 p.m. ET: Costa Rica vs. an opponent TBD.
  • Friday, July 16 at 8:30 p.m.: Costa Rica vs. Suriname.
  • Tuesday, July 20 at 7 p.m.: Costa Rica vs. Jamaica.

If Costa Rica were to qualify to the quarterfinals, it would play Sunday, July 25 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The semifinals are Thursday, July 29 in Austin or Houston, Texas, with the championship match scheduled for August 1 in Las Vegas.

Costa Rica has never won a Gold Cup, though La Sele thrice (1963, 1969, and 1989) triumphed in the CONCACAF Championship, a predecessor tournament.

Mexico are the reigning champions and will be the favorites alongside the United States.

The 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup groups are as follows:

  • Group A: Mexico, El Salvador, Curaçao and Winner Prelims 9
  • Group B: USA, Canada, Martinique and Winner Prelims 7
  • Group C: Costa Rica, Jamaica, Suriname and Winner Prelims 8
  • Group D: Honduras, Panama, Grenada and Qatar

The top two teams from each group qualify to the knockout stages.

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