It didn’t take long for Luis Diaz to make a good impression in a Columbus Crew SC uniform.
Signed by the Black & Gold as Young Designated Player in early July, the Costa Rican winger has been on the field for only 41 minutes in two matches since his arrival but that limited time was enough for him to show some promising potential.
Diaz, in fact, needed no more than 25 minutes to make his most noticeable play in a Black & Gold uniform so far, a pinpoint cross to Romario Williams that found the striker in position to head the ball into the back of the net and secure a much-needed road point for the Crew in a 2-2 tie with the Chicago Fire lasst week.
“I had only had two training sessions before the first match, but Caleb (Porter) gave me a lot of confidence to get on the field and help the team,” the Costa Rican told Massive Report. “To get in and have an assist, it was great. It was a nice start and that’s all I could have hoped for, but now I hope I can continue contributing and I’ll be working hard for it.”
Making things happen in a short period of time, however, is not exactly something new to the 20-year-old Diaz. The winger started his professional career in 2016 and less than a year later, led Municipal Grecia to promotion to Costa Rica’s top flight.
After a good initial season in the country’s first division, he raised the attention of Costa Rica’s giants Herediano, who he signed with at the start of 2019. From there, it took him only another six months to get onto Columbus’ radar.
Diaz also accomplished something highly unusual for professional soccer players as he got his first call up for Costa Rica’s National Team directly in a tournament, this year’s Gold Cup, and not in a friendly. Unfortunately, he sustained a heel injury and didn’t get to play in the tournament.
“These have been two very quick and big steps forward in my career,” the winger reflected. “I’m very grateful for all that happened so far and I hope I can adapt quickly and keep advancing my career. My immediate goal is to finish this season in the best possible way. That would help me in playing for the national team and in the long-term, I want to establish myself here in MLS.”
The Costa Rican’s almost instantaneous first appearances with the Crew were certainly in part prompted by the team’s recent rough form. Diaz was one of the numerous signings the Black & Gold made in an attempt to end a 10-match winless streak, which was achieved on Saturday with the team’s 2-1 victory over the Montreal Impact.
After the team won its first MLS match since May, the winger expects things to take a positive turn as the season continues.
“When you get to a team that’s not in good form and in which there are several roster changes going on, you need to be ready to fight,” he added. “I knew there would be opportunities to play and I prepared as well as I could to help. The players and the coaching staff are very determined to turn things around. We won some important points in the last two matches and I hope we can continue getting better.”
In the meantime, though, Diaz will try to adapt to Columbus and MLS. The task is partially facilitated by the fact that the Crew has a pair of other Costa Ricans on its roster in Waylon Francis and David Guzman. But according to Diaz, they weren’t the only ones to ease his adjustments in Ohio.
“The players and the coach received me very well and they made me feel at home,” he said. “It’s my first time outside of Costa Rica and that has been a dream of mine to play in a different league. It’s been tough to be away from my family, but Waylon and David have been very helpful. One thing I noticed is that the match dynamic is very different here. It’s a more physical game and it’s tough to find space to play. When you get on the ball, it just takes a few seconds for a defender to take your space. So, it’s a great opportunity for me to improve.”
Improvement will only come with playing time and Diaz is looking for that too. After coming off the bench is his first two matches with the club, he seems ready to compete for a starting spot with the team.
And, of course, he plans to use to his speed to get this task done in a short time too.
“I’m giving my best to hopefully get a shot in the starting lineup and help the team even more,” he commented. “But I know there are some very good wingers here. (David) Accam and (Luis) Argudo are two great players and I’m looking forward to learn from them.”