[HEXAGONAL COUNTDOWN]Goalkeepers for Mexico and Costa Rica, the next two U.S. opponents in World Cup 2014 qualifying, were very much in the news on Sunday. If Mexican keeper Guillermo Ochoa had a career day in holding French champion Paris St. Germain to a 1-1 tie, Keylor Navas was helpless in a 7-0 loss to Barcelona in La Liga opener, proving once again the Camp Nou was no place for Tico keepers.
PSG outshot Ajaccio, 37-1, but the tiny Ajaccio club held on for a 1-1 tie thanks to Ochoa, who made 14 saves, many of them sprawling efforts, to earn a rare grade of 9 (out of a maximum 10) from France Football.
Ochoa had hoped to play for a bigger club when he moved to Europe in 2011, but he got caught up in the a doping scandal during that year's Gold Cup. He and four other Mexican were cleared after it was determined they had eaten contaminated beef, but the damage had been done. All but promoted Ajaccio among the European clubs chasing him lost interest in him.
'Exceptionnel Ochoa' (video page will link to Ligue 1 highlight page):
Navas had moved from Saprissa to Albacete in Spain in 2010, a year after he was named the goalie of the tournament at the Gold Cup, but Albacete sank to the third level of Spanish soccer and is now propped up thanks to donations for Barca star Andres Iniesta.
Navas moved to Levante, first on loan and then on a permanent transfer, and won the starting job this season. It was just his bad luck to be in goal on Sunday as Barca humiliated Levante with six goals in the first half. Navas could do nothing to stop the Spanish champions, who walked several balls into the goal.
"Camp Nou is not a place for Costa Ricans," noted the sports daily Marca. Luis Gabelo Conejo, the only other Tico keeper to face Barcelona, also gave up seven goals in his appearance at the Barca stadium with Albacete in 1992.
Barcelona-Levante Highlights (video page will link to La Liga highlight page):
MEXICO. Giovani dos Santos scored in his debut for promoted Villarreal on Monday, hitting the tying goal in the 83rd of the Yellow Submarine's 3-2 comeback win at Almeria. On Saturday, Carlos Vela scored the first goal in Real Sociedad's 2-0 win over Getafe. Xavier Hernandez is injured and sat out Manchester United's 4-1 win over Swansea City.
COSTA RICA. In his third loan spell in three seasons, Arsenal property Joel Campbell debuted for Greek club Olympiakos in a 1-0 win over Kalloni. He had spent the previous two seasons in France and Spain. Most European-based Tico legionarios didn't play following national team duty against the Dominican Republic (4-0 win).