Waston, Bola celebration - Costa Rica

Bolaños, Waston closing in on World Cup berth with Costa Rica

At this time next year, all eyes will be on Russia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

And, if things continue trending as they have been, there could very well be two Vancouver Whitecaps FC players front and centre. Those players are centre back Kendall Waston and midfielder Christian Bolaños, who have each played integral roles in Costa Rica’s qualifying campaign to date.

The Ticos have played 10 World Cup qualifiers heading into the next set of matches this week and have posted an impressive 7W-1L-2D record. Bolaños, for starters, has appeared in all 10 matches. And he’s made a massive impact, recording a team-high four goals to go along with three helpers.

Then there’s Waston, who has arguably been just as valuable.

The “Towering Tico,” as they call him, has appeared in seven of Costa Rica’s qualifiers. And in those matches, they have posted an undefeated 5W-0L-2D record, including four clean sheets. Waston has also chipped in with a goal and an assist, most recently heading in a Bolaños corner to help Costa Rica earn an important road point at Honduras in March.

It’s been one heck of a run so far.

And it resumes on Thursday, when Costa Rica play host to Panama at the Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica in Waston's and Bolaños' native city of San Jose before hosting Trinidad & Tobago on Tuesday. 

Costa Rica can’t officially qualify for the World Cup just yet, but they can put themselves in a great position with a pair of victories. Here’s a look at the standings after the first four matches of The Hex, which is the fifth and final round of qualifying in the CONCACAF region.

CLUB

GP

W

L

D

PTS

1. Mexico

4

3

0

1

10

2. Costa Rica

4

2

1

1

7

3. Panama

4

1

1

2

5

4. United States

4

1

2

1

4

5. Honduras

4

1

2

1

4

6. Trinidad

4

1

3

0

3


Each team has six matches remaining. The top three teams will automatically qualify for the World Cup, while the fourth-place team will have to earn their berth through an inter-confederation playoff.

A pair of victories for Costa Rica would put them on 13 points with four games to go. There are many different scenarios that could still play out from that point forward, but the likelihood of them qualifying for Russia 2018 would increase drastically.

One win from their final four matches would likely even do it.

Bolaños, who leads Whitecaps FC with four assists this season, has already appeared in two World Cups for Costa Rica. In fact, the now 33-year-old led the Ticos with 10 chances created and two assists at the 2014 tournament, in which Costa Rica reached the quarterfinal stage.

Waston, on the other hand, is looking to make his first World Cup appearance – he was named to Costa Rica’s 30-man provisional roster in 2014 but did not make the final cut. It’d be hard to see him left out again this time around, considering his recent performances for both club and country.

But first, Costa Rica has to get there. And they’re well on their way.

COSTA RICA’S REMAINING WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS

June 8: vs. Panama
June 13: vs. Trinidad and Tobago
September 1: at USA
September 5: vs: Mexico
October 6: vs. Honduras
October 10: at Panama