Keylor Navas and six MLS players headline Costa Rica's 23-man World Cup squad, named Monday by manager Oscar Ramirez.
The Real Madrid goalkeeper was heroic in the 2014 World Cup as the Ticos stunned the world by winning a group that also included England, Uruguay and Italy, on the way to the quarter-finals. He'll look to replicate the feat this time around in Group E, which also features Brazil, Switzerland and Serbia.
Navas is joined by six current MLS players and a handful of others, like Minnesota United loanee Johan Venegas and current Bologna center-back Giancarlo Gonzalez who have passed through the North American league. The most surprising absence is another MLS player, D.C. United midfielder Ulises Segura, who had become a regular for Ramirez in midfield during the past year.
While many players, like Navas, Gonzalez, 34-year-old center back Johnny Acosta and Bryan Ruiz, return from the 2014 run, there will be a fair number of new faces for the Ticos. Jose Salvatierra suffered an ACL tear in the Costa Rican playoffs, which opened a space for a wide defender. That space is filled by Ian Smith, a 20-year-old playing in Sweden who has just one cap with the senior team. Herediano midfielder Randall Azofeifa is in the team and will be hoping for his first World Cup minutes since 2006, when he came on as a 21-year-old in a group match against Germany.
The manager said if all players, including Bolanos and Gonzalez who are returning from injuries, are fit and ready to go then this will be the final list. Four players from the domestic league will be invited to training camp and potentially serve as replacements if someone has to pull out of the roster because of injury or personal issue.
Goalkeepers: Keylor Navas (Real Madrid), Patrick Pemberton (LDA), Leonel Moreira (Herediano)
Defenders: Cristian Gamboa (Celtic), Ian Smith (Norrkoping), Ronald Matarrita (NYCFC), Bryan Oviedo (Sunderland), Oscar Duarte (Espanyol), Giancarlo Gonzalez (Bologna), Francisco Calvo (Minnesota United), Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps), Johnny Acosta (Aguilas Dorados)
Midfielders: David Guzman (Portland Timbers), Yeltsin Tejeda (Lausanne), Celso Borges (Deportivo La Coruna), Randall Azofeifa (Herediano), Rodney Wallace (NYCFC), Bryan Ruiz (Sporting Lisbon), Daniel Colindres (Saprissa), Christian Bolanos (Saprissa)
Forwards: Johan Venegas (Saprissa), Joel Campbell (Real Betis), Marco Urena (LAFC)