Nashville SC

Randall Leal will play for Costa Rica in Nations League final round

It should come as no surprise by this point – he’s not only a Ticos MNT regular, but one of the first names on the team sheet for most matches – that Nashville SC winger Randall Leal has been named to his nation’s final squad for the upcoming international break.

La Sele‘s team was announced today, and Leal made the cut after being on the extended preliminary roster.

Estos son los llamados de Costa Rica para el Final Four

The 5-7 winger has appeared 17 times for the Costa Rica senior national team, but his most recent action for his country was in a trio of U-23 matches as the Ticos attempted to qualify for the 2020* Olympic tournament. He was largely ineffectual (though certainly swimming upstream, so to speak) in losses to the United States and Mexico, but had a two-goal outing in a match against the Dominican Republic after his team had been eliminated from advancing.

Leal last played for the senior team in November, when Costa Rica had a frustrating international break (that included Leal getting inadvertently kicked in the back of the head, a symbolically-appropriate recap of the 0-1-1 swing against Qatar and the Basque Country). The Ticos have been… extremely poor under current head coach Rónald González, but a win or two in the Nations League final round (which will include a third-place game, even if Costa Rica can’t knock of Mexico in the semi) would go a long way toward changing that narrative.

The contests will take place June 3 and June 6 in Denver, and then a quick flight to Salt Lake City beckons for a June 9 friendly against the United States. Both nations will play three contests during the international break (the US actually has four, with the senior team also playing a friendly against Switzerland prior to the semifinal) to mimic a condensed World Cup Qualifying cycle later this year.

Although La Sele has convened in Costa Rica, Leal and the other US-based players – Chicago Fire’s Francisco Calvo, FC Cincinnati’s Allan Cruz and Rónald Matarrita, and Columbus Crew’s Luis Diaz – will join the team in Denver.

Nashville SC plays its final game before the international break this weekend at Atlanta United. Leal is tied for the team lead with two goals, and leads the way with a pair of assists. NSC won’t take the pitch again until after the break, and with coronavirus protocols relaxed in comparison to last year (and international travel not necessary for MLS players), Leal shouldn’t miss any time with the Boys in Gold.

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