Just because they call it a friendly doesn’t mean everyone always plays nice.
Costa Rica’s 1-0 loss to Venezuela on Tuesday was marred with two red cards that sent off La Sele’s pair of young forwards Johan Venegas and David Ramírez.
Venegas was expelled late in the first half after he talked back to the referee. Though we may not find out what exactly the 27-year-old MLS player said to get himself sent off, television cameras caught Venegas continuing to talk back to the Colombian official after being given a yellow card initially.
In the 64th minute, David Ramírez was then sent off from his second yellow card when he dragged Venezuela’s Arquímedes Figuera down by the back of his jersey. The call against Ramírez, who was making his debut appearance for coach Óscar Ramírez, was clearly deserved as the lagging striker committed a lazy, inexcusable foul. Just minutes before, Ramírez went unpenalized for throwing his elbows into the back of a Venezuelan defender.
Venezuela’s Wilker Ángel headed in the game-winning goal in the 88th minute when Tico goalkeeper Marco Madrigal failed to corral a shot that hit him in the chest and led straight to Ángel’s rebound.
It was a fitting end for an ugly game by Costa Rica, which ended up committing seven penalties on the night, which included five yellow cards. Óscar Ramírez and company will want to soon forget this sloppy performance as they get set to continue World Cup Qualifying play in March with a doubleheader against CONCACAF rival Jamaica.
The bad news from Tuesday’s friendly is that Costa Rica looked undisciplined and lazy for the first time under Ramírez’s watch. The good news is that this version of La Sele, which realistically includes three or four players who will be featured on a full-strength selection, is a far cry of what this team should look like when it next takes the field on March 25.
As the country’s best players remain caught up in club play overseas, it’s likely only Venegas, Johnny Acosta, and Kendall Waston will hear their names called for the World Cup qualifiers.
The loss to Venezuela is the first time Costa Rica has dropped a game against La Vinotinto since 2000, when the Venezuelans beat up on the Ticos 5-1 in Alajuela.