MLS Imports: Costa Rican market 'revolutionized'

For many years, MLS clubs have looked to Costa Rica for talent. At least 11 Ticos, seven of them current members of Costa Rica's highly regarded national team, will play in MLS in 2017 as a new pipeline has been developed.

The most offseason transfers from any foreign club is three from Costa Rica's Saprissa -- Panamanian Adolfo Machado (Houston Dynamo), Daniel Guzman (Portland Timbers) and Francisco Calvo (Minnesota United) -- and that number should go up.

Still to be confirmed is the transfer of former New York Red Bulls defender Roy Miller from Saprissa to the Portland Timbers, likely after Saprissa is eliminated from the Concacaf Champions League, and Daniel Colindres, Marvin Angulo and Shaquille Jimenez have been mentioned as possible Saprissa targets by MLS clubs.

Behind the recent influx of Ticos into MLS is Kurt Morsink, who was born to an American father and Costa Rican mother and attended James Madison University. He played for six seasons in MLS with the Kansas City Wizards and D.C. United, and was working as a scouting coordinator for D.C. United until going out on his own as an agent in 2016.

Morsink told the Costa Rican daily La Nacion that he has lots of contacts in Costa Rica, Honduras and Panama and his goal is to "revolutionize the Central American market" for MLS clubs.

The first wave of Tico internationals arrived in MLS with the signing of Roy Myers, Mauricio Solis and Mauricio Wright in 1999. For years, Scandinavia was the first choice of Ticos moving abroad, but interest in MLS has grown as salaries have increased. Morsink told La Nacion that MLS clubs can now pay Costa Rica internationals two or three times what they make in Costa Rica.

In turn, Ticos have caught the attention of MLS clubs with the success of young defenders Kendall Waston at Vancouver and Ronald Matarrita at NYCFC and the deal Columbus was able to make by selling Giancarlo Gonzalez to Italy's Palermo after half a season.

Costa Ricans in MLS (2017):
Christian Bolanos (Vancouver Whitecaps < Saprissa, 2016)
Francisco Calvo (Minnesota United < Saprissa, 2017)
Dennis Castillo
(Colorado Rapids < VCU, 2016)
Waylon Francis (Columbus Crew <  Herediano, 2014)
Daniel Guzman (Portland Timbers < Saprissa, 2017)
*Ariel Lassiter (LA Galaxy < LA Galaxy II, 2015)
Ronald Matarrita (New York City < Alajuelense, 2016)
Jose Guillermo Ortiz (D.C. United < Herediano, 2017 [loan])
Jose Salvatierra (FC Dallas < Alajuelense, 2017 [loan])
Johan Venegas (Minnesota United < Montreal Impact < Alajuelense, 2015)
Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps < Saprissa, 2014)
*Dual USA-Costa Rica citizen (son of Roy Lassiter).

5 comments about "MLS Imports: Costa Rican market 'revolutionized'".
  1. Ric Fonseca, December 30, 2016 at 2:13 p.m.

    Hmmmmm? Aren't "we" - meaning MLS and Co., supposed to be "developing" home-grown players through the "vast" (tongue-
    in cheek) US national sphere of soccer influence and give our very own a chance to "grow" the and with the sport???

  2. R2 Dad replied, January 1, 2017 at 4:58 a.m.

    Agreed. I think the bar is too low for admitting players outside the US and Canada. This feels like H1B visa abuse (or whatever type of visa professional sportsmen receive). Do all these Costa Ricans have national team caps? If we don't develop and respect our own home-grown talent, don't expect MLS to do it for us.

  3. Eric R., December 31, 2016 at 7:47 a.m.

    Ric, we are. But we shouldn't limit ourselves to only recruiting from inside the US. Watch any teach in Europe and you'll see teams that bring in a lot of talent from outside their respective countries.

  4. Eric R., December 31, 2016 at 7:47 a.m.

    Team not 'teach'

  5. Ric Fonseca, January 3, 2017 at 4:34 p.m.

    Heck fellows, I still say let us deelop and "grow" OUR players! Gee, and golly-willikers, is it no wonder we "lose" players to other countries, not just Liga MX, but other foreign countries, i.e. Europe.... and then we go a 'runnin' fast to ID those "dual passport" players a-la-former JK was wont to do.

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