New-look Ticos open on friendly turf

[HEXAGONAL COUNTDOWN] Costa Rica's bid to qualify for the World Cup finals for the third straight time begins Wednesday when the young Ticos host Honduras at Saprissa Stadium. Coach Rodrigo Kenton has almost completely made over the team from the one that played at the 2006 World Cup finals.

Only three players who played against host Germany in the opening game of the 2006 World Cup are in Kenton's team that will face Honduras.

One of them is Italian-based defender Gilberto Martinez, who has returned to action after a two-year layoff due to a knee injury.

Seven other foreign-based players were called up, including Gonzalo Segares of the Chicago Fire. Former MLS players in the squad are Michael Umana and William Sunsing.

Kenton replaced former national team star Hernan Medford last summer and led Costa Rica to six wins in six games in its semifinal-round group.

The Costa Rica-Honduras game will be played on FieldTurf at Ricardo Saprissa Stadium because the National Stadium in San Jose was torn down. The Ticos have won by shutout all four World Cup 2010 qualifiers they have played at Saprissa.

Six hundred Chinese workers have been brought in to begin work on an $73 million stadium that is being financed by the Chinese government and will have a capacity of 45,000 when completed. The agreement to build the stadium where the former National Stadium was located followed the Costa Rican government's decision to sever ties with Chinese Taipei and recognize China.

COSTA RICA ROSTER:
Goalkeepers: Keylor Navas (Saprissa), Ricardo Gonzalez (Herediano), Patrick Pemberton (Alajuelense).
Defenders: Roy Myrie (Gent, Belgium), Carlos Johnson (Bryne, Norway), Gilberto Martinez (Brescia, Italy), Junior Diaz (Wisla Krakow, Poland), Gonzalo Segares (Chicago Fire, USA), Michael Umana (Liberia), Freddy Fernandez (Perez Zeledon), Roberto Segura (Perez Zeledon).
Midfielders: Carlos Hernandez (Melbourne Victory, Australia), Cristian Oviedo (Alajuelense), Jorge Davis (Ramonense), Walter Centeno (Saprissa), Celso Borges (Saprissa), Armando Alonso (Saprissa), Pablo Herrera (Alajuelense), Pablo Brenes (Brujas), Alvaro Sanchez (San Carlos).
Strikers: Bryan Ruiz (Gent, Belgium), Alvaro Saborio (Sion, Switzerland), Andy Furtado (Herediano), Victor Nunez (Liberia), William Sunsing (Liberia), Alejandro Alpizar (Saprissa).

U.S. RIVALRY:
The Ticos are the only Hexagonal team besides Mexico to have a winning record against the USA. Since the 1-1 tie in Alajuela in 1985, Costa Rica is perfect in six home games. The Ticos handed the USA one of its most crushing defeats -- a 1-0 loss in Torrance, Calif., that ended its 1986 World Cup qualifying campaign.

 

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