Costa Rica

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State of play in CONCACAF Nations League

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Well, well, well…

Canada’s controlling 2-0 defeat of the USMNT on Tuesday adding some intrigue to the final two match days of the CONCACAF Nations League next month

[ USMNT-CANADA: Time for change? | Player ratings ]

Mexico nearly provided another shock at Azteca thanks to a relative inability to break down Panama, but young stunner Jose Juan Macias scored for the fourth time in three caps to lead El Tri to a 3-1 win on the night.

Roberto Alvarado saw his 28th minute goal canceled out by pre-halftime own goal, and Mexico had better than 75 percent possession when Macias bagged his winner. Rodolfo Pizarro rounded out the scoring in stoppage time.

Here’s where we sit in the battle for four semifinal spots. The semifinals and finals will be staged in June.

Group A

Canada’s defeat of the USMNT means the Yanks need to make the most of the Canucks visit to the Orlando next month and smash Cuba in the Cayman Islands. Overall goal difference is the second tie breaker, and the Yanks are four behind Canada. A two-goal win in Florida would mean the Yanks would simply need a victory over Cuba to advance to the semifinals. Canada advances with a draw against the U.S., while Cuba has already be relegated to League B.

Group B

Mexico now has six points to Panama’s three and Bermuda’s three. El Tri will visit Panama next and can clinch a spot in the semifinals with a draw or better. Even if Panama beats Mexico, Tata Martino’s men would need to get nothing from Bermuda at Azteca to fail to make the semifinals. Bermuda needs Panama to beat Mexico before getting a blowout win at Azteca. Not looking good.

Group C

Honduras is onto the semifinals. Whether Martinique or Trinidad and Tobago, both on two points, can avoid relegation by getting a superior result against Honduras in November. Honduras heads to Martinique before hosting T&T.

Group D

Curacao had five points compared to its rivals two each and can advance to the semifinals with a home defeat of Costa Rica. If Los Ticos claims the three points, then it will have at least a two-goal advantage on Haiti heading into a home finale.

On This Day: Bornstein becomes national hero – in Honduras

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You know what today is? It’s Jonathan Bornstein day in Honduras.

Ten years ago today at RFK Stadium in our nations capital, a young, hot-shot kid with plenty of hair named Michael Bradley and Bornstein helped the U.S. Men’s National Team come back to draw Costa Rica, 2-2, in World Cup qualifying. In fact, it’s eerie watching Bornstein’s celebration, running to the corner flag and diving headfirst as he’s mobbed moments after by his teammates. It’s a bit similar to what Lanson Donovan did about nine months later.

[READ: USMNT looks to build in match v. Canada]

To add some context, it was the final day of qualifications matches in the Hex. Three days earlier, the U.S. had already secured a place in the World Cup with a wild 3-2 win at Honduras, meaning Los Catrachos needed to win over El Salvador on the final night and hope that the U.S. would keep Costa Rica from winning in the final match.

Who else, but Carlos Pavon gave Honduras a 1-0 win over El Salvador that night. Then, it was Bornsteins goal later that night that put Los Catrachos into the World Cup for the first time since 1982, and left Costa Rica to battle for the shared spot between CONCACAF and CONMEBOL.

In honor of the big day, hundreds of Honduras fans had been mentioning Bornstein on social media, and the veteran defender – currently of the Chicago Fire – retweeted quite a few of the thankful messages to him. Below, here’s video of the call from Honduras TV, as well as from Ian Darke and the ESPN crew.

Unfortunately for Bornstein, this may be the highlight of his national team career. He did make the 2010 World Cup squad and started twice, including the matches against Algeria and Ghana, but he never truly took the next step in his career to become a star left back.

After a calamitous performance against Mexico in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup final, which also Bob Bradley his USMNT job, Bornstein was dropped and hasn’t been seen from again on the national team stage.

However, even though he’s only a club player these days, he’ll never have to buy a drink in Honduras, that’s for sure.

Nashville adds 11-cap Costa Rican winger for MLS debut

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Nashville SC has purchased another attacking talent ahead of its first season in Major League Soccer.

The player is Costa Rican speedster Randall Leal, a 22-year-old left winger currently with Saprissa in his native country. He’s 11-times capped by Los Ticos, but is yet to score or assist for his country.

[ MORE: USMNT mid Williams signs in Cyprus ]

Leal had been abroad with Belgium’s KV Mechelen, but only managed an assist in 19 matches from 2015-18.

From NashvilleSC.com:

“Randall is an exciting young attacking midfielder with bags of potential,” said Nashville SC general manager Mike Jacobs. “He has the ability to influence matches in a variety of ways and has demonstrated that caliber on both the domestic and international stage.”

He has two goals and two assists in 10 matches this season, and has registered six goals and six assists in 38 matches since coming home from Europe.

Nashville now boasts:

Leal
Hany Mukhtar (Designated Player)
Aníbal Godoy
David Accam
Derrick Jones
Cameron Lancaster
Daniel Ríos

Costa Rica manager quits citing “boredom” of coaching national team

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It takes a particular breed of manager to be successful at the national team level. Gustavo Matosas is not one of those people.

The 52-year-old Uruguayan made that abundantly clear as he stepped down on Wednesday after less than a year on the job, saying during a press conference that he did not anticipate the particular struggles he faced personally as national team coach.

“I didn’t know being a national team manager was so boring,” Matosas said. “I don’t regret it and I don’t leave frustrated because I gave my best. I won’t manage a national team again. I can’t only have the players every two months. It’s not for me.”

That doesn’t leave much up for interpretation. Matosas said he was so bored, he felt unfulfilled, preferring a club job where he can coach more and scout less.

“I realized that in the national side I feel unproductive even though I kill myself watching videos,” Matosas said. “It’s not what I like to be doing.

“It’s tough not having players in the day-to-day to train them. I only have the players for a week every two months and it’s killing me. I didn’t know it was so hard. I thought I would be able to somehow endure it.”

Matosas was hired last October to replace Oscar Ramirez who stepped down after the World Cup. He took charge of eight matches, winning three and losing four. Before his appointment with Costa Rica, Matosas managed club teams such as Club America, Queretaro, Atlas, Al Hilal, Danubio, and Estudiantes. He never spent more than two seasons at any position.

After his departure from Costa Rica, there were reports he would be hired at Liga MX side Atletico San Luis, but the club president denied the rumor.

Matosas departure shines light on national team coaches

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Veteran Uruguayan coach Gustavo Matosas shocked both the CONCACAF and CONMEBOL communities alike with his announcement on Wednesday evening that he was resigning as Costa Rica Men’s National Team manager after this month’s friendlies.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

In a press conference alongside Costa Rica Football Federation officials, Matosas made an honest, yet stunning statement that shines a light on the differences between club soccer and international soccer.

“I live day to day. I didn’t realize being a national team coach was so boring,” Matosas said. “…Above all, (I’m leaving because of) how difficult it is to lead a team when you don’t have time day-to-day with the players. I don’t feel productive. Sometimes, I feel like I’m on vacation.

“I get the players for one week every two months. I thought it was not going to be so costly, however, I feel the lack of everyday work on the field with the players. With the National Team, I feel unproductive, I don’t have that day-to-day (action), no matter how much I kill myself watching film and games, it’s not what I like. I tried it, and I don’t like it.”

It 2019, it does take a special breed to be a national team manager. While Matosas exaggerates a little, it’s true that it’s much more difficult for national team coaches to work with players and imprint an identity with their team.

Every World Cup cycle it seems, national teams are getting fewer and fewer days with their players, as the club game has truly become the biggest competition in global soccer. It’s why teams at World Cups or other continental tournaments are struggling, with many stars on paper, but a lack of cohesion or time to develop the muscle-memory or chemistry with teammates needed to succeed in a game of inches.

In Matosas’ case, he discovered that – aside from performing pretty badly as Costa Rica manager in his one year plus on the job – he just wasn’t made for the international game.

U.S. Men’s National Team coach Gregg Berhalter has talked about how he’s been in constant contact with USMNT players while they’re with their clubs, and he and his staff have done everything they can so that the players can arrive at training camp and hit the ground running. Most teams only get a week with the players, a Wednesday through the next Wednesday perhaps, so getting 2-3 days in training before and between games is crucial.

If as a manager, you can’t explain your tactics and ideas to players in a short period, perhaps it’s a sign that international coaching isn’t made for you.

Ultimately, it’s not a good thing for the game. Even before now, international soccer wasn’t for everyone. However, Matosas is clearly proven as a solid coach, and his return to Liga MX, even with Atletico San Luis, shows that he’s still desired in one of the top leagues in the region. However, his inability to adapt to the international game – or that the game has moved past him too quickly, is a shame.