Costa Ri­can hero shifts fo­cus to White­caps mak­ing his­tory

Was­ton’s look­ing for­ward to set­ting club on a play­off pedestal, win­ning a tro­phy

Vancouver Sun - - SPORTS - PA­TRICK JOHN­STON pjohn­ston@post­media.com twit­ter.com/risin­gac­tion

“El Mun­dial, el Mun­dial, el Mun­dial ...”

Even if you saw Ken­dall Was­ton’s goal that sent Costa Rica off to the World Cup live last Satur­day, a re-watch is li­able to send shivers down your spine.

A mo­ment of roar­ing na­tional joy, with TV com­men­ta­tor Kristian Mora re­peat­ing the out­come (el Mun­dial be­ing Spanish for World Cup) over and over.

Fans danc­ing, coaches and play­ers run­ning about.

That’s the best of sport. Was­ton, who rose above ev­ery Hon­duran de­fender to get his head on the ball in a man­ner we’ve seen time and again with the Van­cou­ver White­caps, went nuts af­ter watch­ing it sail in to the top cor­ner.

He took off down the pitch, rip­ping his jer­sey off, seem­ingly pow­ered for­ward by the screams of his coun­try’s fans.

“I just went crazy,” a smil­ing Was­ton told re­porters on Thurs­day. “When ev­ery­body went crazy I felt like the sta­dium was go­ing to fall down. It was a huge mo­ment for us. I just re­mem­ber tak­ing off my jer­sey, run­ning around. Ev­ery­one

from the bench went crazy, they ran across the pitch. It was an awe­some mo­ment.”

His name will go into the his­tory books as the guy who clinched Costa Rica’s sixth trip to the World Cup. That’s noth­ing to sniff at. Na­tional hero? “I don’t know, what I know is that I get in the his­tory of Costa Rica,” he ad­mit­ted.

Sun­day, he could find him­self lock­ing a sec­ond high­light in a week: an MLS Western Con­fer­ence ti­tle. It’s sim­ple now. If the Van­cou­ver White­caps beat San Jose at B.C. Place Sta­dium, they will be the No. 1 seed in the MLS’s west play­offs.

Last week may have been amaz­ing, but it’s now the past, says Was­ton.

“The fo­cus is al­ways there, ob­vi­ously I en­joyed that mo­ment. But now with our club, we are look­ing for­ward to win a tro­phy,” he said. “We know what we are play­ing for and we just want to make his­tory for this club.”

It could be quite the week for Was­ton. World Cup qual­i­fi­ca­tion. Maybe set­ting his club on a great big play­off pedestal. Oh and last Sun­day? That was his fifth an­niver­sary with his wife.

GOAL KICKS: Yordy Reyna’s Peru and Ste­fan Mari­novic’s New Zealand are play­ing in a two-leg play­off for a fi­nal World Cup spot next month.

Ex­cit­ing news for the White­caps’ pro­file, but the sched­ule prompted worry the Caps would be with­out their ser­vices in the sec­ond leg of their po­ten­tial western con­fer­ence semi­fi­nal, which would have the Van­cou­ver leg on Nov. 5.

The win­dow for the Peru/New Zealand se­ries opens Nov. 6, mean­ing were the duo called up, they’d have to leave well ahead of the Nov. 5 match.

Cri­sis averted, it would seem, as a re­port from the New Zealand Her­ald news­pa­per sug­gests the World Cup play­off will be played Nov. 10/11 Down Un­der and Nov. 13/14 in South Amer­ica.

I just went crazy. When ev­ery­body went crazy I felt like the sta­dium was go­ing to fall down. It was a huge mo­ment for us.

EZEQUIEL BE­CERRA/AFP/GETTY IM­AGES

Costa Rica’s Ken­dall Was­ton cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing on a header against Hon­duras dur­ing their World Cup qual­i­fier on Oct. 7 to send his coun­try to the 2018 World Cup in Rus­sia.

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