MIAMI, Florida – At the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, no team captured the imagination and hearts of neutrals more than Costa Rica.
The Ticos finished atop a group that consisted of former World Cup champions Italy, Uruguay and England and eventually reached the quarterfinals before losing to the Netherlands in a penalty shootout.
Integral to the success of that Costa Rica side was attacking midfielder Bryan Ruiz.
Ruiz scored the lone goal in Costa Rica’s crucial 1-0 win over Italy, which earned the Central Americans a place in the knockout round, before tallying Costa Rica’s goal in the 1-1 draw with Greece in the Round of 16, which the Ticos eventually won in a penalty shootout, 5-3.
Yet Ruiz’s international career is much more than that memorable three-week span six summers ago in Brazil. At present, the 34-year-old has amassed 125 international appearances, including 20 Concacaf Gold Cup matches with three goals, one of those being Costa Rica’s score in their 1-1 draw with Mexico in the 2019 Gold Cup quarterfinals.
The Gold Cup is familiar and friendly territory for Ruiz. His first ever goal for the Costa Rican National Team came in his first Gold Cup in 2005 in a narrow 3-2 defeat to Honduras in the quarterfinals. Ruiz would play four matches in that edition of the tournament at the young age of 19.
Six years later, Ruiz appeared in three matches at the 2011 Gold Cup and then four matches in the 2015 edition. His most active Gold Cup came in 2017 when he played in all five of Costa Rica’s matches as they reached the semifinals, before his four appearances in last summer’s 2019 tournament.
His three Gold Cup goals and two FIFA World Cup goals are just a sliver of his total international haul of 26 goals with the National Team. In particular, Ruiz has been lethal in Concacaf World Cup Qualifying, with 12 goals in his career, including six in WCQ for South Africa 2010 which was tied for the third-most in Concacaf.
In addition, Ruiz has a goal in Copa Centroamericana play, plus eight scores in various international friendlies.
At the club level, he has the distinction of winning the 2004 Concacaf Champions Cup with Costa Rican club Alajuelense, plus domestic titles in the Netherlands with Twente and in Portugal with Sporting Lisbon.
With so many remarkable moments spread throughout his career, it is safe to say that Ruiz’s Concacaf legacy is well intact.