Costa Rica trains at the Costa Rican Football Federation Sports Complex on January 3, 2016, in Alajuela. (Photo courtesy of Federación Costarricense de Fútbol)
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – Costa Rica opened training Tuesday for the 2017 Copa Centroamericana, a day after head coach Oscar Ramirez announced a 23-player roster for Central America’s championship for national teams, which also serves as a CONCACAF Gold Cup qualifying competition.
Herediano is the best-represented club with seven players in the selection, while recently-crowned Costa Rican Invierno champion Saprissa – which has seen three national team players leave the club since lifting its 33rd domestic trophy last month – sent three competitors.
The squad is highlighted by the inclusion of Red Star Belgrade forward John Jairo Ruiz, who scored three goals in the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup, before moving to Europe the following year. The 22-year-old has also played for Lille (France), Mouscron-Peruwelz (Belgium), Oostende (Belgium) and Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk (Ukraine). He has appeared in four UEFA Champions League matches and another four in the UEFA Europa League.
Costa Rica is the Copa Centroamericana’s defending champion, lifting the trophy a record eight times.
This year’s tournament will be contested January 13-22 in Panama. Each of the six teams will face each other once, with the top four earning berths in the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup. The fifth-place side will face the fifth-place team from the 2016/17 Caribbean Cup for the last spot.
GOALKEEPERS: Danny Carvajal (Saprissa), Leonel Moreira (Herediano), Patrick Pemberton (Alajuelense)
DEFENDERS: Johnny Acosta (Herediano), Francisco Calvo (Minnesota United/USA), Pedro Leal (Carmelita), Cristopher Meneses (Alajuelense), Allan Miranda (Herediano), Jhamir Ordain (Santos), Pablo Salazar (Herediano), Michael Umaña (Alajuelense), Juan Pablo Vargas (Belen)
MIDFIELDERS: Elias Aguilar (Herediano), Marvin Angulo (Saprissa), Randall Azofeifa (Herediano), David Guzman (Portland Timbers/USA), Osvaldo Rodriguez (Santos), Ulises Segura (Saprissa), Gerson Torres (Herediano), Deyver Vega (SK Brann/Norway)
FORWARDS: Jose Guillermo Ortiz (D.C. United/USA), John Jairo Ruiz (Red Star Belgrade/Serbia), Johan Venegas (Minnesota United/USA)