Kenton Out as Costa Rica Manager

Monday, September 14, 2009 | View Comments
CONCACAF Cup - Semifinals, Costa Rica v Mexico

Costa Rica head coach Rodrigo Kenton was fired today, the move coming on the heels of a poor turn of form for the Ticos that has them sitting in the fourth position of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

After flying high out of the gates and climbing to the top of the standings, Costa Rica's recent inability to score has them fighting for a place in South Africa next year. With the fourth place finisher in CONCACAF destined for a playoff with the fifth place finisher in CONMEBOL (currently Argentina), all is not well in San Jose.

Kenton's dismissal now leaves Bob Bradley (USA), Reinaldo Reina (Honduras), and Carlos de los Cobos (El Salvador) as the only head coaches in the Hexagonal that have led their teams for more than a calendar year.

Costa Rica, although in a significantly different position than their northern counterparts, has followed Mexico's lead in switching managers during the crucial latter part of qualifying. Meanwhile, despite vociferous opinions that he should be shown the door, American head man Bob Bradley has never been in serious jeopardy of losing his job. Barring a disastrous collapse in the last two matches of the Hexagonal and failure in the playoff (which is the worst place the US can finish at this point), there's no reason to believe that Bradley won't be manning the sidelines at World Cup 2010.

Results matter here, obviously, and Kenton hasn't been getting them. The same type of failures that led Mexico to let go of Sven Goran Eriksson happened much later for the Ticos, and the timing could be an issue. Costa Rica must now find a coach who can shepherd them to qualification despite taking the top post before the final two matches of the Hex and in the midst of a scoring drought.

While the American soccer mindset and lack of media heat means more stability in for the US head coach, the rabid and life-or-death nature of Latin American football means coaches like Kenton are always just a few losses away from losing their jobs.

Costa Rica's last two matches are home to Trinidad & Tobago (eliminated), and away to the United States. A win against the eliminated Soca Warriors would guarantee them at least the playoff spot; getting a result against in the US, who may need the match to ensure their own qualification, will be much more difficult.

I considered turning this post into a commentary on the different approaches of US Soccer and the Latin American federations, but thought better of it. If you would like to comment on the idea or if you believe Bob Bradley would have been fired if the US was as rabid a footballing country as some of our CONCACAF brethren, feel free.
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