Costa Rica earned a point on the road to open their Concacaf World Cup qualifying campaign. The opponent was Panama, the team they lost to in the final match of World Cup qualifying in 2017. Of course, Costa Rica still qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, but the Panama victory was one heard around the world.
Now, it’s a new qualifying campaign, and this Panama team — and the Costa Rican team for that matter — are different. Both sides are younger and Costa Rica, under a new manager, Luis Fernando Suárez earned a point on the road in a hostile Panama atmosphere.
That’s the story of World Cup qualifying in the Concacaf confederation. Concacaf has some rowdy crowds. It was on display in Panama and in El Salvador with La Selecta hosting the United States men’s national team.
In Panama, the match was chippy and there were opportunities from both sides. Panama dominated the stat sheet, though, with two shots on goal at veteran goalkeeper Keylor Navas. Costa Rica took four shots, none registered on goal.
Costa Rica joined the one-point club with Canada and Honduras, who battled to a 1-1 draw.
Three Takeaways from Costa Rica vs. Panama
- A point is a point: On the road in Concacaf, it’s essentially considered a win when the away team goes into a match and makes it out with a point. Concacaf has some rowdy, crazy crowds. The atmosphere is amazing as a fan, but as a player it’s a nightmare. Wait until teams get to a packed Azteca.
- Costa Rica needs more from the front: Zero shots on goal. That’s not how you’re going to steal points on the road. Costa Rica played defensively, there’s no doubt about it. However, there was essentially no production on the attack, as only four shots were taken in total. Starting in the 4-1-4-1 formation, mainly on attack, were Ariel Lassiter, Randall Leal (of Nashville SC), Manfred Ugalde as the No. 9 and Celso Borges.
- Looking ahead: Costa Rica heads back home and will host Mexico at the Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica in San José on Sunday. Despite being at home, it’ll be a tough match for the Ticos — who, at the final whistle in Panama, were tied 0-0 with Jamaica. Then, on Wednesday night, Costa Rica remains at home for Jamaica.