Federación Costarricense de Fútbol (FCF) was founded in 1921, and became member of FIFA in 1927. Soccer is said to have been brought to Costa Rica by students returning from England. There’s a historical controversy about how early soccer was started in Costa Rica; some say as early as 1896, other historians place it in the fields of Costa Rica at around 1876.
Unión de Clubes de Fútbol de la Primera División (UNAFUT) was started in 1999 as a way to stimulate and organize soccer in Costa Rica. 11 teams play a regular season tournament called Fase de clasificación. La Fase de Semifinales, or the playoffs will start by pairing the top 4 teams, 4th place team will play the top team from the regular season, and the 3rd place team will play the 2nd place team in a home and home series that will determine who plays for the national championship to be crowned “Campeón Nacional del Campeonato”.
Costa Rica is presently ranked 59th in the FIFA world ranking.
WORLD CUP HISTORY:
- World Cup Appearances: 3 (’90, 2002 & 2006)
- World Cup Final Appearances: 0
- World Cup Championships: 0
- Games played: 10 (3 Wins – 1 Ties – 6 Losses)
- Goals Scored: 12 – Goals Allowed: 21
- Leading Scorer: Ronald Gomez & Paulo Wanchope – 3 Goals (2002 & 2006)
- Gold Medals: 0
- Games Played: 10 (2 Wins – 1 Ties – 7 Loses)
- Goals Scored: 8 - Goals Allowed: 24
GOLD CUP HISTORY:
- Gold Cup Appearances: 10 (’91, ’93, ’98, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011)
- Gold Cup Final Appearances:2 (2002 & 2009)
- Gold Cup Championships: 0
- Games Played: 42 (14 Wins – 12 Ties – 16 Loses)
- Goals Scored: 69 – Goals Allowed: 57
- Leading Scorer: Walter Centeno – 9 Goals (’37, ’39 & ’42)
COPA CENTROAMERICANA HISTORY:
- Copa Centroamericana Appearances: 11
- Copa Centroamericana Final Appearances:10
- Copa Centroamericana Championships: 6 (’91, ’97, ’99, 2003, 2005 & 2007)
- Games Played: 48 (29 Wins – 11 Ties – 8 Loses)
- Goals Scored: 92 – Goals Allowed: 30
PLAYERS OF YESTERYEAR:
- Alejandro Morera Soto: Considered by most to be the greatest soccer player in the history of Costa Rica. Soto’s nickname was the “Magician with the ball”. Soto was a fabolous striker, his career spans 22 years including a 3 year stint with FC Barcelona back in the 30′s.
- Paulo Wanchope: Considered by many to be the best soccer player in Costa Ricas recent history; Terrific striker with an eye for the goal, his 6′ 4″ frame made him a big target in the box. Wanchope is the second leading scorer in Costa Rica’s history with 45 goals. Wanchope was member of the 2002 & 2006 World Cup teams..
- Walter Centeno: Although still playing, Centeno retired from international play in 2009. Centeno leads all Ticos in National team appearances with 137. A skillful ball handler and great passer, Centeno led Costa Rica to a second place finish in the 2002 Gold Cup. Centeno played for Costa Rica during the 2002 & 2006 World Cup.
- Rolando Fonseca: Like Centeno, Fonseca still plays, but has recently retired from international play. Fonseca is Costa Rica’s national team all time leading scorer with 47 goals.
- Edwin Cubero: Great striker that played most of his career in the Mexican first division.
PLAYERS OF TODAY:
- Bryan Ruiz: 26 years old (6′ 2″) Fulham (EPL). Fast, skillful winger and a tremendous goal scorer. Ruiz has played in Belgium, Denmark and now in England alongside Clint Dempsey.
- Alvaro Saborio: 30 years old (6′) Real Salt Lake (MLS). Real Salt Lake’s only Designated Player, was voted MLS’ Newcomer of the Year in 2010. Saborio played for Costa Rica during the 2006 World Cup.
- Christian Bolaños: 28 years old (5′ 9″) FC Copenhagen (Denmark). Dangerous and fast winger, been a member of the national team since 2005.
- Celso Borges: 23 years old (5′ 9″) AIK (Sweden). Considered to be a future star, Celso has already won 3 championships with Saprissa and has been a member of the national team since the age of 19.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
- Bryan Oviedo: 22 years old, FC Copenhagen, (Denmark)
- Joel Campbell: 19 years old, Arsenal (EPL)
- Josue Martinez: 22 years old, Philadelphia Union (MLS)
- Marco Urena: 22 years old, FC Kuban Krasnodar (Russia)
PLAYERS CURRENTLY IN MLS: (9)
- Leo Gonzalez: Seattle Sounders
- Kurt Morsink: DC United
- Gonzalo Segares: Chicago Fire
- Rodney Wallace: Portland Timbers
- Roy Miller: NY Red Bulls
- Alvaro Saborio: Real Salt Lake
- Josue Martinez: Philadelphia Union
- Olman Vargas: Columbus Crew
- Porfirio Lopez: Philadelphia Union
- Jairo Arrieta: Columbus Crew (Will join the team at the end of June)
TEAMS TO KNOW:
- Deportivo Saprissa: Founded in 1935 in the Capital city of San Jose, Saprissa is the winningest team in Costa Rica, boasting a staggering 29 National titles and 9 international titles, including 3 CONCACAF Champion Cups (’93, ’95 & 2005. Saprissa’s uniform is purple and white.
- Liga Deportiva Alajuelense: Founded in 1919 in the city of Alajuela. Alajuelense has won 27 national tournaments and 5 international cups including 2 CONCACAF Champions Cup (’86 & 2004). Uniform colors are red and black.
- Club Sport Herediano: Founded in 1921 in the city of Heredia. Herediano has won 22 National titles. Uniform colors are yellow and red.
- Club Sport Cartaginés: Founded in 1906 in the city of Cartago. Despite being the oldest club in Costa Rica, Cartagines has only won the national cup 3 times. Uniform colors are blue and white.
5 USELESS SOCCER FACTS ABOUT COSTA RICA
- A person from Costa Rica is commonly referred as a Tico.
- Costa Rica has made it to the finals of the Copa Centroamericana every year since 1991 except for 1995.
- Costa Rica is by far the best soccer country in Central America, it has won the Copa Centroamericana 6 times, which is 1 more than every other Central American country combined.
- Costa Rica was the first Central American football team to win a game at a World Cup tournament.
- There are 2 Ticos playing for the Philadelphia Union, Porfirio Lopez & Josue Martinez, and 1 Tico playing for the SOB Independence in the CASA league, my main man Sergio.
Next week we’ll continue Futbol In The Americas (The Series) with EL SALVADOR.
Last week we started profiling all UNCAF members: BELIZE