Waston goal - Costa Rica - World Cup qualifying - Honduras

10 things: On a goal for the ages and a familiar face in training

1. I still can’t get over this Kendall Waston goal from the weekend, which clinched Costa Rica’s berth in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Just look at that emotion from Waston and everyone else in the stadium. It doesn’t get much better than that. This is the beauty of sport … unless you’re from Honduras. Seriously though, Waston just made himself a national hero. What a moment.

2. This was a pretty great moment, too.

First it was the slap and now this … no one is safe when Waston is happy LOL. As for the interview itself, and keep in mind that my Spanish is severely lacking (should have paid more attention in first-year university), Waston insisted that this wasn’t revenge for not being selected for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. He was named to Costa Rica’s preliminary 30-man roster, but did not make the final cut. And interestingly, Costa Rica’s coach at the time was Jorge Luis Pinto, who is now the head coach of Honduras. Instead, Waston took full responsibility for not making the 2014 squad. I think it’s pretty safe to say he won’t have to worry about that next summer.

3. For our Spanish speaking audience, here’s a really nice video from Teletica Deportes in which Waston recounts the goal with his wife Priscila and son Keysack. In that interview, Waston and Priscila reveal that the goal actually fell on their five-year anniversary. Click on the link in the tweet to watch the full piece. 

4. Last one on Waston. He has scored 10 goals for Vancouver Whitecaps FC since joining Major League Soccer midway through the 2014 season, which is second to only Toronto FC wingback Justin Morrow for most goals by a defender during that same period. Interestingly, all 10 of Waston’s goals have come at BC Place. The most memorable no doubt came in Vancouver’s 2014 regular season finale. The ‘Caps knew they needed a win to clinch a playoff spot. And the crowd clearly knew, too. So in the 70th minute, they rose to their feet ahead of a ‘Caps corner, and Waston returned the favour, lunging over a Rapids defender at the near post to knock in the game-winning goal.

Waston also scored in Vancouver's 2015 regular season finale, a 3-0 win over Houston that clinched Vancouver's first-round bye. The big man sure has a thing for big occasions. 

5. Will we have another such moment on Sunday in Vancouver’s final home match of the regular season? The 'Caps have already secured at the very least a home playoff match in the Knockout Round. But with a win on Sunday, they’d clinch a bye to the Western Conference semifinals, and if Sporting Kansas City loses one of their two matches to Houston Dynamo this week, the Western Conference regular season title. The club announced on Tuesday that fewer than 1,000 tickets are available for Sunday’s match.

6. The ‘Caps have not lost twice in a row since March. It’s a big reason why they’re sitting atop the Western Conference with just two matches remaining. Their record after losses? 9W-1L-0D. This team has found ways to bounce back all season long. Can they do so again on Sunday?

7. Like Costa Rica, Egypt secured a berth to the 2018 FIFA World Cup over the weekend with a stoppage-time winner. It was another absolutely epic moment, considering the last time Egypt made the World Cup was 1990. That’s something Whitecaps FC’s Egyptian midfielder Aly Ghazal spoke about Tuesday on Sportsnet 650 Radio. “It was a very emotional moment. You can’t imagine how the people are celebrating now. It’s a party everywhere. People didn’t sleep the day before because of the stress, and people didn’t sleep the night of the game because of happiness.” Ghazal, who has five appearances for Egypt, said he grew up playing with many players on Egypt’s current squad. “Most of us have known each other for 10 years.”

8. Waston isn’t the only Whitecaps FC player who had a viral moment over the last few days. Here’s a funny clip of Yordy Reyna that has been going around. Reyna is currently away with the Peruvian national team, who host Colombia tonight with a berth in the World Cup on the line.  

9. Peru are currently fifth in CONMEBOL’s World Cup qualifying table. If they remain there after tonight, they would face ‘Caps goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic and his New Zealand national team next month in a two-leg playoff for the final World Cup berth. It’s also very possible that Argentina ends up being that team. Messi vs. Marinovic, anyone?

10. Some interesting news to share: former Whitecaps FC midfielder Davide Chiumiento, who was in town for the club’s recent Legends & Stars charity alumni match, will be training with the ‘Caps over the next few weeks. Chiumiento, who turns 33 in November, is currently a free agent.