CARSON, Calif. – Costa Rica has been the surprise darling of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but their success has been no shock to several members of the LA Galaxy.
Marcelo Sarvas, former member of Costa Rican club Alajuelense, and Landon Donovan have extensive experience in dealing with the Ticos who have already qualified for the Round of 16 with wins against Italy and Uruguay. Billed as the minnows in Group C alongside Italy, Uruguay and England, Costa Rica has shined picking up two wins and eliminating the English in the process.
For Sarvas, who is a cult hero with Alajuelense, the Costa Ricans success is a message that global soccer powers should not overlook the Ticos.
“I’m very happy for them. This is very good for soccer. This is what soccer is about,” Sarvas said. “It’s a very good lesson for people that think that they’re experts. Soccer happens inside the field, you saw that Costa Rica was a coordinated team that played with good effort and did the right things.
“They know that their world cup can change their lives because they could get better contracts,” he added. “But they also have the ability to play because they’re in a good generation where almost every player is in Europe plus they have a good coach who is understanding of how the team plays.”
Donovan who has extensive experience in facing the Costa Ricans believed that their success is a boon for CONCACAF as a whole, even joking that FIFA should add another spot at the World Cup for the region.
“I’m very proud of [CONCACAF’s performance]. We take a lot of shtick…with people saying ‘you’re playing in Costa Rica, why are you losing 3-1 to Costa Rica?’ Well, now people are wondering that maybe it’s not that easy. And by the way, they’re playing on neutral ground. Go to Costa Rica and see how many teams get results there,” Donovan said. “It’s not easy and it’s been enjoyable to see, but we need to continue that. The U.S. needs to go through, Mexico has one foot in the second round and they need to go through. If that happens, I think that it’ll be a very successful World Cup for CONCACAF.”
Although the road will not be easy for the Ticos, who face England next week with hopes of winning the group, Sarvas believes that the Costa Ricans will continue to shock the world.
“Everybody is surprised because even if you know how well they can do, until you see it, it’s a surprise,” said Sarvas. “Now they are confident that they can beat any team and I wish that they can go through to the final.”