Waston celebration - Costa Rica - World Cup
Reuters

How Kendall Waston became part of Costa Rican footballing folklore

VANCOUVER, BC - It's been an eventful week for Vancouver Whitecaps FC captain Kendall Waston.

After not being selected for the first two matches against Serbia and Brazil, Waston certainly made his mark in Costa Rica's final group game, starting and scoring in the Ticos' 2-2 draw with Switzerland last Wednesday.

Four days later, he was on the pitch at BC Place for the 'Caps in their 1-0 home loss to Colorado, but was forced to leave the match at halftime with a left groin strain.

After arriving back in Vancouver on Friday, Waston hasn't had much time to gather his thoughts, but results aside, his World Cup experience was a dream come true.

“In a collective way, [it was] disappointing because we didn't qualify to the next round,” Waston told MLSsoccer.com. “On the personal side, happy because I could get a chance to play. It was a dream that I wanted, and to score was another one. On that side I'm happy.”

Waston is already in Costa Rican footballing folklore with the goal that secured the team's place in Russia.

He wrote another chapter of it when he scored the Ticos' first goal of this year's World Cup, rising to head home a Joel Campbell corner.

The joy on his face after scoring will be one of the enduring moments for fans in Costa Rica and Vancouver from this World Cup, and when the cameras panned to the crowd, Waston's wife Priscilla was captured enthusiastically celebrating her husband's header.

That chance to enjoy that moment not only on the world stage, but also with his wife, made it all the more special for the 'Caps captain.

“I was looking for it,” Waston said of his goal. “We were losing one-nil, so that was the chance I was thinking to give us the draw. When I scored, it was a lot of happiness. I was only thinking of my wife because she always supports me in the toughest moments in my career, so I was really, really happy to get that goal and get that joy for my family.”

The two early losses to Serbia and Brazil had already removed Costa Rica from contention for qualifying for the knockout stages, leaving nothing but pride to play for.

It was disappointing tournament for a team that had thrilled the world four years ago, reaching the quarterfinals of the Brazil-hosted tournament. With expectations raised after that performance, Costa Rican fans gave a hostile reception to the players arriving back home.

Waston flew straight back to Vancouver to be able to play in Sunday's match, missing the anger at the airport, but he wasn't surprised by the fans' reactions.

“Back home is always like that,” Waston mused. “When you lose, it is always like that. That is normal. I flew straight back to Vancouver so I didn't get the chance [to see it] . . . As soon as the last game finished, I was prepared and getting excited to come back home. I love to be at this club with the guys.”