Both likely left backs are from Costa Rica. Here is Gonzalo Segares of the Chicago Fire. You know Leo Gonzalez already. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
There's an interesting little phenomena in MLS - the Costa Rican left back. In today's match against the Chicago Fire the Seattle Sounders will face one and likely field another. There's also Roy Miller over with the New York Red Bulls. All were sought by the Sounders at one point before circumstances and fortune led Leo Gonzalez and the team to reach an agreement. The Fire also have a Guatemalan in Marco Pappa. Seattle scouted Honduras heavily this last offseason. Why do Seattle, Chicago and other teams look to Costa Rica and other Central American nations for talent?
That was the subject of a short discussion with Technical Director Chris Henderson on Thursday at practice. We started off the discussion about Costa Rican left backs.
"There's a lot of similarities in physicality in Costa Rica to MLS. A lot of their players are very technical, but they can handle the physical demands of MLS so the transition to MLS is pretty easy. I think that a lot of those guys from Costa Rica also have international experience which they can translate into our league.
Leo made a quick adjustment here and has been pretty solid. All the others Costa Ricans were on our radar too when we were coming into the league. Sometimes though, depending on which team, the Costa Rican players are a little expensive for MLS. At the same time you can also find a bargain player who has good technique and physically can compete."
We then moved onto a comparison of the Fire's scouting of Pappa and the two teams' efforts to improve through finding talent between Guatemala and Panama.
I know one agent that we have in common. I was with him scouting a game once and the Chicago Fire TD was there saying ‘Hey, how's it going.' There's a lot of times where you share agents and they work with different clubs. Pappa was a great pickup for them. He was a player who was out there when we were putting our team together in 09 and was an option for us during expansion. They've done a good job with their Central Americans as well.
Henderson and Frank Klopas both played in the league, both coach in the league and both moved to positions in talent evaluation. While Klopas is now also the Coach, Chris Henderson is happy in a role where he works with Adrian and Sigi discovering talent around the globe in order to craft a team that will compete at the highest levels for years to come.