MLS experience huge for Crew's Costa Rican contingent

Berhalter credits MLS as big part of Francis, Gonzalez selections

Waylon Francis Giancarlo Gonzalez

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USA Today Sports Images

Although the Costa Rica National Team is known for their red and blue kits, when they take to the pitch at the FIFA World Cup this summer, they very well could feature a good amount of Black & Gold as well.

Los Ticos named Crew defenders Waylon Francis and Giancarlo Gonzalez to their preliminary roster this afternoon, with striker Jairo Arrieta named as an alternate to the provisional list.

Both Francis and Gonzalez are new to MLS this season, and have started every match as part of a revamped Crew backline that has included fellow stalwarts Michael Parkhurst and Josh Williams. Francis previously played for Herediano in his native Costa Rica, and Gonzalez came to Columbus from Vålerenga, in Norway.

Much has been made about the role of MLS’ increased role in helping develop and provide talent for the United States National Team, but Crew Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter believes the League fostered a big boost for both Francis and Gonzalez as well.

“It says a lot about how far MLS has come,” said Berhalter. “I had a conversation with Waylon, and he had communicated to me that coming to the Columbus Crew and playing meaningful minutes in MLS actually got him his chance to make the National Team, so I think it has a lot to do with it.”

Francis, 23 years old, has one cap for Costa Rica. Gonzalez, 26, has recorded 32 caps at the senior level, but Berhalter believes Gonzalez also further cemented his stock thanks to MLS.

“In Giancarlo’s case, the coach wanted him to be playing regular minutes and to stay sharp, because he’s a big part of that team,” said the Crew boss.

As an alternate, Arrieta has a chance to become the third Columbus player to potentially represent Costa Rica, with Berhalter saying that he hopes the striker will be a part of the team somehow. Whether he goes or not, Francis and Gonzalez form a Columbus contingent in Los Ticos, and their high level of play for the Crew is a big reason why.