Bryan Ruiz (pictured) and Costa Rica will face Colombia in Copa America Centenario on June 11, 2016, in Houston. (Photo: Mexsport)
HOUSTON -- Although its chances of advancing are very slim, Costa Rica captain Bryan Ruiz isn’t ready to raise the flag of surrender.
In their Group A finale on Saturday, the Ticos (0W-1D-1L, 1) need to defeat an unblemished Colombia (2-0-0, 6) by at least five goals and hope the U.S. loses or draws against Paraguay to maintain any hope of securing a place in the quarterfinals.
As unlikely as that scenario might seem for a team that has yet to score this tournament, Ruiz says it’s worth trying to accomplish.
“We will try to do it step by step,” he said. “We will try to win of course and try to get those three points that will keep us alive in this tournament.”
Costa Rica will know if it has a path to advancement at NRG Stadium, since the USA-Paraguay encounter will have concluded prior to the opening whistle.
A first-round exit would be a considerable disappointment for a country that has seen expectations rise after a run to the 2014 FIFA World Cup quarterfinals.
That’s understandable, Ruiz says, even if he and his teammates don’t constantly think about that moment.
“We’ve moved on a long time ago,” remarked the Sporting Lisbon standout. “People will always compare what we did in Brazil, (even if) it’s not fair. That comparison will always be there for fans and for journalists, and we welcome that because it will always be part of our lives.”
Costa Rica faces a Colombia side that has already clinched a spot in the quarterfinals, and one that will feature several lineup changes from the first two matches, signaled manager Jose Pekerman.
The Cafeteros’ potential personnel adjustments won’t change Costa Rica’s approach or how it plans to defend.
“Based on what it would give us, we will be adapting," head coach Oscar Ramirez said. "This is always important to try to understand what will be ahead of us.”
Even if this is the last match at Copa America for the current Central American champion, Ramirez doesn’t believe his squad needs major changes to accomplish its ultimate goal of returning to the World Cup in 2018.
“This is a very solid team, a very grown up team, and I think that the essence is there,” expressed Ramirez.
Rather, he wants this group to learn from its Copa struggles.
"I feel that anyone who is in this, both the players, the coaches, we don’t like losses, and it’s difficult to digest,” Ramirez finished. “Personally, I want to review this thoroughly, because we don’t want to go through this again."