Costa Rica (pictured) trains in Montclair, New Jersey, USA, on September 3, 2015. (Photo courtesy of Federación Costarricense de Fútbol)
MONTCLAIR, New Jersey – The Oscar Ramirez era officially gets underway Saturday, when Costa Rica plays its first game under the former Alajuelense manager’s leadership against Brazil at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.
Ramirez was appointed head coach last month after Paulo Wanchope’s resignation stemming from a physical altercation at a stadium in Panama
The transition, however, seems to be progressing smoothly and the players say that the 50-year-old is already making an impact.
“The coach told us how he is going to utilize the two of us. I’m honestly happy and know that Patrick [Pemberton] is also,” said goalkeeper Esteban Alvarado, who will start at Uruguay (September 8), while Patrick Pemberton will face Brazil. “It’s that he wants us to do our jobs well, so that we can battle to be a starter. That is daily bread for us.
“He wants a good dynamic, good ball management, having clarity in how things move in the back, how to pressure and how to attack. We are adapting in a good way.”
Though Costa Rica is clearly not starting from scratch, as proven by an outstanding performances last year at the FIFA World Cup (quarterfinals) and the Central American Cup (champion), it has not won in 10 straight outings. The upcoming friendlies will be the Ticos’ first matches since July’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, where they posted draws in three group games, before falling 1-0 to Mexico after extra time in the quarterfinals.
Perhaps, a new voice and approach will revitalize the squad.
“He looks after everything, even the smallest detail, because that’s what brings us victory,” said defender Giancarlo Gonzalez, who played for Ramirez at Alajuelense, but now is on the roster of Italy’s Palermo. “We are acclimating to his style of play. Basically, there is a lot of ball possession. We are giving it our all, so that the adaptation process is easier and that it yields results.”
Costa Rica’s last won 3-1 on October 14, 2014, at Korea Republic on the strength of two Celso Borges goals and another by Oscar Duarte. Both are on the current roster.