World Cup Qualifying: Waston shines for Costa Rica in 2-1 win over Panama

Big games call for big players – and once again Kendall Waston has proved to be just that.

Waston got the nod for Costa Rica in Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Panama and he didn’t disappoint. The 6-foot-5 centre back, who was the 2015 Whitecaps FC BMO Player of the Year and a runner up for MLS Defender of the Year, went the full 90 minutes and picked up an assist in a 2-1 Ticos win at Panama City's Rommel Fernandez Stadium.

Check out his assist in the video above and the subsequent celebration below.

Waston also completed 33 of 35 passes, which was Costa Rica's second highest total.

Here’s an assessment of his performance from Goal.com columnist Jon Arnold, who specializes on the CONCACAF region. 

“Waston stepped in for the injured Óscar Duarte and made the most of his opportunity on a rainy night in Panama City. In addition to a solid night defensively, he was very active getting forward. That resulted in an early yellow card in the 12th minute for a skirmish with veteran Panama centre back Felipe Baloy (one of the few men in the region as physically opposing as Waston). Most notably, Waston stayed with a free kick in the 65th minute, winning a second ball after his first touch was deflected and sending a header toward Bryan Ruiz. The Ticos captain turned it into the first goal. There's plenty of competition for central defender spots, but Waston has given Costa Rica manager Óscar Ramírez plenty to think about going forward – or at the very least proved he's more than capable of filling in when called upon.”

This was Waston’s fourth appearance for Costa Rica and second this year – he played 90 minutes in a scoreless friendly with the U.S. last month.

Costa Rica now sit atop Group B with six points from two matches. Each team still has four matches remaining in this round of qualifying – two in March 2016 and two in September 2016.

The top two finishers from each of the three groups will move on to the fifth and final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which is nicknamed “The Hexagonal” (usually abbreviated to “The Hex”). The top three finishers in “The Hex” will automatically qualify for the World Cup while the fourth-place finisher will participate in a playoff with the fifth-place finisher from Asia for the final spot.

2018 FIFA WORLD CUP QUALIFYING: CONCACAF FOURTH ROUND

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