The continued emergence of Junior Diaz (red jersey) will be critical to Costa Rica's success at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. (Photo: Mexsport)
Before flying to Brazil for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Costa Rica will face Ireland on Friday in an international friendly at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania.
Here are Three Points to consider in advance of the game:
1) For Costa Rica, a positive result could go a long way
For a talented Costa Rica side that will be looking to make waves within a World Cup group that features three past champions, Friday’s friendly with the Irish is a potential confidence booster. Despite some elegant performances from PSV Eindhoven maestro Bryan Ruiz and the emergence of forward Joel Campbell, the Ticos have claimed just one victory in their last five outings. With the Group D encounters against England and Italy looming large, a good result against fellow Euro 2012 participant Ireland would see the Costa Ricans head south on a high note.
2) The Emergence of Junior Diaz
Diaz, who plays his club soccer with Germany’s FC Mainz 05, has done a wonderful job of filling in for injured Everton defender Bryan Oviedo, who failed to regain fitness in time for the tournament after breaking his left during an FA Cup match in December.
While showing himself to be more than capable defensively, Diaz has also acquitted himself nicely on the offensive end, making timely forays in to the attacking third and providing excellent service into the box. It was Diaz’s pinpoint pass that found Ruiz for the Ticos’ only goal against Japan on Monday.
3) Memories of 1990
It was nearly 24 years ago at Italia 1990 that these two teams both participated in their first World Cup. Somewhat surprisingly, both debutants managed to make it out of their groups on four points, advancing to the knockout stages where Costa Rica was eliminated by Czechoslovakia (4-1) in the Round of 16 and Ireland eventually fell to Italy (1-0) in the quarterfinals.