Christian Bolaños has four goals in his last three FIFA WC qualifiers for Costa Rica. In a 4-0 trouncing of the US, he scored a goal and an assist and has the Tico’s at the top of the table in the Hexagonal after two games. He has already played in two World Cups and is making a strong push for a third and the way his game oozes calm and composure, his 32 year-old legs just may be able to make the trip to Russia.
I felt Bolaños was one of the bright spots on the Whitecaps last season. He has a number of attributes that are badly needed on this team, especially if Morales is to leave as he’s expected to. Bolaños can take the corner kick, and is dangerous on free kicks. He has shown he is good around the goal with his deft, in close scoring, and he can play in the centre of the park. Last season Robbo had him line up on the wing and he did fine there offensively, although he was sometimes criticized for not helping out his struggling RB’s at times. It was clear he and his RB’s were not always on the same page as, more than once, I saw him trying to teach them where they needed to be in the offensive zone. It is also clear that on a team with better players around him, like the Costa Rican national team, he is quite effective.
Bolaños likes to drift into the central areas of the park. He did this for the ‘Caps and he is doing it for his national team, and I like the way he is able to set up chances from there. Vancouver will need a playmaker that can create from the middle next season and if Robbo is serious about his 4-4-2 ambitions, then Bolaños versatility to play a number of positions on the field will make him very valuable.
The team’s official site has an interesting stat on him, that he never let more than one game go by without a goal or an assist, save for a brutal four game stint where the ‘Caps weren’t scoring any goals. With the team’s overall scoring woes, it is surprising that he could be that productive. In fact, much of Bolaños’s game is understated. He had a stuttering start with his new club after assisting in the opener, then a number of international call ups, a goofy suspension and a small injury tripped him up as he tried to settle into a new league. He plays a style that we have not yet seen in a ‘Cap jersey and it took us some time to figure him out as well. When the ball comes to him it often slows right down while he invites defenders to him so he can move the ball where he wants it. He doesn’t have the blistering speed, but he does have some sweet ball control and is able to get out of trouble more often than not. At first, it looked like he wasn’t pressing enough and was too casual with his play. I think there were a couple early games, namely the one in Washington D.C., where he didn’t play hard enough, but as the season wore on we learned what a reliable player he was, on a mostly unreliable team.
I look forward to see what he can do next year. I am happy he will likely be back, since Robbo was courting him for a couple years I don’t expect to see him go anywhere. The ‘Caps are going to need an influx of new talent and if Robbo can pull that off, I think we’ll see more production from him. We can enjoy him in his national colours for now, and imagine him doing the same for us next year.