Before the Columbus Crew hosts the New York Red Bulls in the MLS Cup playoffs on Nov 21, world football is in the midst of the November international break. At the time of this writing, only one Black & Gold player will substitute those colors for his country’s outfit, 21-year old winger Luis Diaz.
It was announced on Wednesday that Diaz was called up to join the Costa Rican National Team for a friendly on Nov. 13 against Asian Cup winners and 2022 FIFA World Cup hosts Qatar in Hartberg, Austria. The Crew winger has made three caps for Los Ticos previously with his most recent appearance coming in early February of this year against the United States in a friendly at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. Diaz also featured in a CONCACAF Nations League match against his current Crew teammate Eloy Room and Curacao in 2019.
Diaz is fresh off his most active season for the Crew with 17 starts and four substitute appearances for Caleb Porter’s side. Though he did not score in the 2020 regular season, Diaz did contribute three assists with his biggest coming on Nov. 1 to set up Krisztian Nemeth’s game-winning goal against the Philadelphia Union at MAPFRE Stadium. Diaz’s other stats in 2020 include playing nearly 1,200 minutes, taking 31 shots and being dealt five yellow cards.
The Costa Rican National Team was able to step back onto the pitch last month for two friendlies at home in San Jose against CONCACAF rivals Panama. Panama won both encounters 1-0 with both goals scored by Abdiel Ayarza. Friday’s match against Qatar will be Costa Rica’s final match until June of 2021. Next summer, Los Ticos will play Mexico in the first-ever CONCACAF Nations League semifinal in the United States.
Currently, Costa Rica is 50th in the FIFA World Rankings and has been one of the top teams in the CONCACAF region over the last 10 years. The country has qualified for the last two World Cups with its best-ever showing coming in 2014 in Brazil where the team finished as quarter-finalists. In that tournament, Costa Rica defeated Uruguay, Italy and Greece before losing to the Netherlands in a penalty kick. In Russia in 2018, Los Ticos were knocked out in the group stage of the World Cup. Costa Rica will begin its road to the 2022 World Cup when qualifying gets underway in June of 2021.
In regional competitions, Los Ticos have become incredibly consistent in CONCACAF with quarterfinal appearances in the last five Gold Cup tournaments with a fourth-place finish in 2017 being the country’s best since 2009. In 2017, Costa Rica lost 2-0 to the United States in the semifinals at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Two years later, the side lost in the quarterfinals to Mexico in a penalty shootout in Houston.
According to current MLS COVID-19 rules following international trips, players must quarantine for nine days upon their return to the United States, which would rule Diaz out of the Crew’s first-round MLS Cup playoff matchup against the Red Bulls on Nov. 21.