Overview of Player
Kendall Waston is a 30 year-old towering center-back for Costa Rica. He plays for MLS side Vancouver Whitecaps. Kendall is 6’5″ (195cm) and 192 lbs (87 kg). He has played 13 games for Vancouver so far in this MLS season, even bagging a goal.
Overview of Nation
Costa Rica have qualified for the 1990 World Cup in Italy, the 2002 World Cup in South Korea, the 2006 World Cup in Germany, and had a memorable run at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Costa Rica won hearts and minds in the last World Cup when they powered through the group stage, and were eventually knocked out by Holland, in an unforgettable game where Louis Van Gaal made a 120th minute goalkeeping substitution that would lead Holland to win on penalties. I will never forget how gassed the Costa Rican players were by the closing minutes of this game, they put so much effort into it. Despite a qualifying campaign that saw games where effort was deservedly questioned, Costa Rica earned an automatic CONCACAF spot in the World Cup by tying Honduras 1-1, thanks to a Kendall Waston goal. Former Fulham midfielder Bryan Ruiz will captain the side. With players like Bryan Ruiz aging, and attacker Joel Campell a shadow of his former self (although still has natural ability), and the fact Costa Rica have a group with Brazil, Serbia, and Switzerland, Costa Rica will be playing a lot of defense where Kendall Waston will showcase his talents.
Player’s Performance in Qualifying
As I said before, he scored the goal that sent Costa Rica to Russia. He has 26 caps, and half (13) of them being in World Cup Qualification. He played over 1,000 minutes in the qualifying campaign, scoring twice and getting an assist, as well as 4 yellow cards (the CONCACAF style of play). As a centre back, he has a pretty good return offensively by those stats, but as someone who has had the pleasure of watching him through qualifying, stats cannot show just how immense he is for Costa Rica. The way he reads the game and saves Costa Rica’s butt so often is fantastic, rarely if ever switching off.
The goal that Waston scored to bring Costa Rica to the 2018 World Cup
Why He’s One to Watch
As I mentioned, he scored the goal that brought Costa Rica to the World Cup. For both club and country, he is a major threat on set pieces. I recall from watching CONCACAF games, especially ones featuring my beloved United States against Costa Rica, the opposition has no idea how to handle Waston in the box. You can mark him all you want, but he is still likely to peel off, or more likely rise above you and power through to put it in the back of the net. Costa Rica are likely to employ a back five, meaning Kendall Waston will be one of three center backs. In a back five, the wing backs often push forward when on attack, leaving the three center backs as the defense. On an opposition counter attack, the back three is spread out, allowing for opposition attackers to sneak in behind. Kendall Waston, as we have seen for Vancouver, thrives in this kind of environment. Vancouver plays with a back four most of the time, but often the fullbacks are flying up the field to supplement their attacking style of play. This leaves the center backs exposed. Kendall Waston deals with runs in behind and being outnumbered very well. There are many times where there are two or three attackers against a retreating Kendall Waston, who holds well enough and often makes a perfectly timed tackle or well-read interception. A physical and tall center back with raw athleticism, who reads the game well and has some of the best tackles I’ve seen, will be one to watch for fans like me who appreciate good defense. Not to mention, Vancouver are in the middle of their MLS season with Waston making 13 appearances so far with a goal. He is in form, in the midst of his club season and not tired like European-based players, and with the attributes I listed above, he is surely one to watch for the Ticos.
Video of Player/Compilation
As I said before, Kendall Waston is an absolute unit. A solid center back, with fantastic heading (16), strength (19) and jumping reach (18). His fantastic stamina too means that both in game and in real life there is little chance of him switching off late into a tiring match.
This isn’t the only ‘One to Watch’, we are releasing a one to watch article for every nation in the World Cup. An hour before each team kick off their first World Cup Group Stage game, we will release that nations one to watch. These can be viewed here – One to Watch for all Nations in World Cup 2018
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