Costa Rica's surprising run to the World Cup quarterfinals last summer not only made it the second CONCACAF country since 1986 to reach the final eight of soccer's biggest tournament, it also stamped it as the region's best team.
That's an honor Costa Rica will be out to defend when it begins play Wednesday at StubHub Center in the 12-nation CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Costa Rica, ranked 14th in the world — the only country from the region in the FIFA top 20 — will meet Jamaica at 5 p.m. Canada will play El Salvador at 7:30 in the second half of the group-play doubleheader at.
The Costa Rican roster for the Gold Cup features 12 players who were on the World Cup team, but a key player is not participating — goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
Navas, who gave up just only two goals and had three shutouts at the World Cup, has tendinitis in his right heel and will not play in the tournament. That's bad news for Costa Rica, which has not played well without him. Navas sat out four of Costa Rica's five games this year, none of which the Central Americans won.
Costa Rica played Mexico to a 2-2 tie two weeks ago in its final Gold Cup tuneup.