Midfielder, #10, 29 Years Old
Edited and updated in 2015 by Connie Cai
Team Overview: Costa Rica is part of Group D where they are lined up to face Uruguay, Italy, and England in the group stage of the 2014 World Cup. They joined the CONCACAF preliminaries in Round 3 and finished second to Mexico to advance to the final qualifying round with five other teams. In the final round, they finished second behind the United States, securing a bid to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Their success has been attributed to two factors: “The first was their solidity at the back, with Pinto’s side conceding only seven goals in the final round, fewer than any other team. The second was their formidable home record of five wins in five games in the final phase” . Historically, Costa Rica has not had major success on the national stage. Their best showing was at the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy, where they beat Sweden and Scotland in the group stage, but were eventually defeated by Czechoslovakia in the first round of the knockout stage . In the 2014 FIFA World Cup, much of the team’s success lies on the shoulders of Bryan Ruiz.
Player Overview: Bryan Jafet Ruiz Gonzalez was born on August 18, 1985 (age 29) and is a native of San José, Costa Rica . Ruiz currently plays for Fulham FC in the Premier League and he is a left sided attacking midfielder who can also play as second striker . As a crucial part of the Costa Rican national football team, Ruiz will also serve as captain of the team during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. His teammates gave him the nickname “la comadreja” or “the weasel” for his facial profile.
Ruiz began his professional career when he was 15 years old, playing for Liga Deportiva Alajuelense in the bottom division. During the summer of 2006, Ruiz was signed by K.A.A. Gent for 4 years. Later on, in 2009, FC Twente (a Dutch team), signed Ruiz for €5 million. On March 27, 2010, Ruiz scored one of the fastest hat tricks ever against Sparta Rotterdam when he scored in the 46th, 49th, and 50th minutes . Ruiz also helped Twente win the league title in 2010.
On August 31, 2011, the Premier League’s Fulham F.C. signed Ruiz for €10.6 million . At the beginning of the 2013 season, Ruiz experienced a slump while playing for Fulham, scoring only once between September and November 2013 . However, Fulham manager Martin Jol defended Ruiz, telling the media that Ruiz was still his “best player” . Look for Costa Rica’s young team captain to get hot during the 2014 World Cup and help continue Costa Rica’s Cinderella story.
Update: Coming as somewhat of a surprise, Costa Rica passed through to the knockout stage after winning Group D, beating difficult opponents Uruguay 3-1 and Italy 1-0 . Bryan Ruiz played a critical role in the game against Italy, scoring the only goal by heading the ball into the net .
In the knockout stage, Costa Rica beat Greece in the first round, again due to a goal by Ruiz. This goal has been laughably named “the most casual goal of the World Cup,” as it appears that the Greek goalie Orestis Karnezis never saw the ball coming .
After Greece scored a goal in 91st minute of regulation to tie the game, the two teams were scoreless throughout the 30 minutes of extra time. Proceeding onto penalty kicks, Costa Rica won 5-3 . In the quarterfinals, which Costa Rica had previously never progressed to, Costa Rica played the Netherlands, with a 0-0 score throughout regulation and extra time. In the penalty shootout, Ruiz was the first player to miss his penalty shot, and unfortunately his miss contributed to Costa Rica’s 4-3 loss . However, many viewed Costa Rica’s performance in the World Cup as a surprise. The team made it the furthest into the World Cup than ever before and their success provided a huge boost for the Costa Rican economic, athletic, and social landscape .
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Continue on to Group D – England: Wayne Rooney
Group D – Italy: Mario Balotelli
Group D – Uruguay: Edinson Cavani
Click here to return to the CONCACAF page.
Learn about Costa Rica’s National Anthem
How to cite this article: “Costa Rica: Bryan Ruiz,” World Cup 2014, Soccer Politics Blog, Duke University, http://sites.duke.edu/wcwp (accessed on (date)).
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