Ronald Matarrita: Costa Rica is the best team in Concacaf
He's admittedly biased, but New York City FC defender Ronald Matarrita said he believes it's his home country of Costa Rica, not the United States or Mexico, that can lay claim to the title of the best team in Concacaf.
Speaking in a wide-ranging interview with hosts Mauricio Pedroza and Herculez Gomez on ESPN's Ahora o Nunca, Matarrita said he believes it's his Los Ticos that are the top side in the federation.
"In talking about distance [between teams], there isn’t much. I believe the level between countries in Concacaf has gotten smaller," Matarrita said. "But obviously because of the history, the success and the name the strongest teams continue to be Mexico, the United States and Costa Rica.
"Putting myself up there, putting Costa Rica up there, [the order] would be Costa Rica, Mexico, United States. Apart from that, I believe the games in Concacaf and the World Cup qualifiers are different. I believe everyone is competing at the same level, everyone wants to win, you have to leave everything on the field. It’s something that at the end of it all your name, your pedigree doesn’t matter. That doesn’t exist on the field, but if I had to say the order it’s: Costa Rica, Mexico, USA, Honduras, Jamaica. They are teams that are always tough to beat, Panama also gets into the mix a lot, [they’re] a country that’s always tough to play away."
Matarrita was also asked to pick the best player in Concacaf from a shortlist of four and again showed his Tico leanings in picking countryman Keylor Navas. He cited the star goalkeeper's time at some of the biggest clubs in the world, including Real Madrid and now PSG as part of the reason for picking him over Canada's Alphonso Davies, the USMNT's Christian Pulisic and Mexico's Raul Jimenez.
He was also questioned earlier in show about the alleged negative perception of MLS in some corners of the Mexican media. Though he didn't talk much about the media, he did offer his viewpoint on the level of the two leagues.
"In terms of the level of play I believe that [Liga MX is a step ahead in] a little more success in their football, a little more history as well, you’ve already heard that Mexican soccer has kept a very, very good level," he said. "In MLS obviously there has been growth and it has been able to close the gap on Liga MX and at this moment I believe we are at a very similar level and you’ve already seen a lot of games in these last few years where MLS teams have imposed themselves on Mexican teams."