Costa Rica national team coach Óscar Ramírez today announced his list of 23 players who will represent Los Ticos at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, among them Minnesota United defender and captain Francisco Calvo. Midfielder Johan Venegas, who is currently on loan with Deportivo Saprissa, also earned a spot.
“I’m very happy and very grateful to God, first of all,” said Calvo. “I think this is what you work for, right? To be in that list. It’s been a long four years in the buildup to this great opportunity to participate in the World Cup and now I have to keep working hard.”
Calvo, 25, debuted with Costa Rica’s senior side in May 2011 and has since gone on to feature on 35 occasions. In 2017, he scored the equalizer in a 1-1 Copa Centroamericana draw against Honduras, a first-minute goal in a 2-1 World Cup qualifying victory versus Trinidad and Tobago and the lone goal in a 1-1 Gold Cup group stage draw with Canada. Additionally, Calvo started and played key roles in the defense during five of eight World Cup qualifiers on the year, including Los Ticos’ 2-0 victory over the United States at Red Bull Arena on September 1 and the 1-1 draw with Mexico four days later.
“We are delighted for Francisco,” said MNUFC Head Coach Adrian Heath. “This could be the pinnacle of his career. He’s played an instrumental part in getting Costa Rica to the World Cup and this is a fantastic opportunity for him to show the world the level of his ability.”
The defender earned the trust of Heath early in his debut MLS season, captaining MNUFC for the first time in the 2-2 draw with Colorado Rapids in Week 3. He started 27 of 27 matches across the 2017 campaign, scoring twice, including the first in a comeback 2-2 draw with Vancouver Whitecaps FC and an 81st-minute header in a 3-2 defeat at San Jose Earthquakes. Calvo also earned a spot in the MLS Team of the Week in Week 13 for his role in Minnesota’s clean-sheet win over Orlando City SC. He has since carried his captaincy into 2018, starting 10 of 10 matches.
“It’s a big moment for Francisco and also a big moment for Minnesota,” said MNUFC Sporting Director Manny Lagos. “This is the biggest stage in soccer and all eyes will be on the captain of Minnesota United. We know he will represent himself, the club and his country well.”
Costa Rica will play three preparatory matches to start the month of June, the first against Northern Ireland at Estadio Nacional in San José, Costa Rica on Sunday, June 3 at 1:00 p.m. CT. The team will then travel to Leeds, England to face the home team at Elland Road on Thursday, June 7 at 2:00 p.m. CT, with the final match against Belgium scheduled for Monday, June 11 at 1:45 p.m. CT at Stade Roi Baudouin in Brussels, Belgium.
Los Ticos will play in Group E during the group phase of Russia 2018 alongside Brazil, Serbia and Switzerland. They will debut against Serbia on Sunday, June 17 at 7:00 a.m. CT in Samara Arena, before traveling to Saint Petersburg for a meeting with Brazil on Friday, June 22 at 7:00 a.m. CT. Costa Rica’s group-stage matches conclude with a game against Switzerland at Nizhny Novgorod on Wednesday, June 27 at 1:00 p.m. CT.