At least one Columbus Crew player will be suiting up for games during the upcoming June Major League Soccer break. Crew winger Luis Diaz has been called up to the Costa Rican National Team for the upcoming CONCACAF Nations League Finals in Denver, Colorado. It’s the second time in 2021 that the 22 year old from Nicoya, Costa Rica will have the opportunity to represent his country in CONCACAF competition, the first time with the senior national team.
In March, Diaz suited up for Los Ticos in Guadalajara, Mexico for the Under-23 Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship. He started and wore the captain’s armband for the U-23 squad for all three group matches where Costa Rica lost to the United States and Mexico and won a consolation match 5-0 against the Dominican Republic. With his 23rd birthday coming up in December, the Crew’s young winger seems poised to only get senior call-ups from here on out.
Diaz has four caps for the Costa Rican Men’s National Team with his first coming in October of 2019 as a substitute against Uruguay in a friendly. His most recent call-up before this spring was back in 2020 when he joined Los Ticos in Austria for a friendly match against Qatar. Diaz is currently in his fourth season with the Black & Gold where he has made nine starts in 10 games in both MLS and CONCACAF Champions League. He is still looking for his first goal since 2019 but did provide an assist in the Crew’s 4-0 win at Real Esteli in early April.
Among this Costa Rica squad going to Denver are five MLS players, including Diaz, Francisco Calvo of the Chicago Fire, Ronald Matarrita and Allan Cruz of FC Cincinnati and Randall Leal of Nashville SC. Los Ticos advanced to the finals after three draws and a win over Curacao in 2019 in the Nations League A group stage. It’s the first year of the new CONCACAF edition of this competition that UEFA started in 2018 to add more competitive matches for international breaks in years between major tournaments.
The first-ever CONCACAF Nations League Finals will begin on June 3 with the two semifinal matches at Empower Field in Denver. Costa Rica will play Mexico after the U.S. hosts Honduras earlier that evening. The winners of the two matches will meet in the final on June 6 with the losers playing a third-place playoff before the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League champion is crowned.
Diaz might not be the only Crew player that will be on international duty during this three-week break. Goalkeeper Eloy Room is a likely call-up to play for Curaçao’s National Team in the last two group matches of 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying. The majority of the rest of the Crew squad will stay in Columbus to get much-needed rest after a congested start to the season. The Black & Gold play this Saturday at home against Toronto FC and will return to the pitch on June 19 for the last-ever game at historic Crew Stadium versus the Chicago Fire.