Winner of NYCFC’s Defensive Player for 2016, named among the MLS 24 under 24 and a key player (and goalscorer) in the first two qualifying games for Costa Rica in World Cup qualifying…
Ronald Matarrita has just finished the best year of his professional career so far.
The full-back has played in 27 games this season, 25 as a starter, has scored one goal and has given five assists for teammates.
With Costa Rica, he competed in, and won, the first two games of the CONCACAF Hexagonal, which serve as qualifiers for World Cup 2018.
Los Ticos triumphed in both matches, with Matarrita scoring a goal against Trinidad and Tobago and giving an assist during the match against USA in San Jose.
Although his main role on the field is to stop goals at the other end, the NYCFC player confessed: “I love going to the attack.”
Matarrita is a defender with the soul of a striker, who admires offensive players in his position, like Jordi Alba (FC Barcelona) or Marcelo (Real Madrid).
“It’s a very long side, with a technique that very few in that position have,” says his now-ex-teammate Andoni Iraola, who has great experience in the right-back role.
Like Matarrita, who initially played in the middle, the majority of offensive full-backs have changed their position over the years until they ended up as defenders.
“I like that he plays the offensive, that he always thinks to go to the attack," says his Coach Patrick Vieira.
“What we want from him is that he becomes part of the formation of our plays from the back, and then advances from there.
“That’s where his strength lies but he still needs to improve on his defensive duties.”
The incorporation of Matarrita on the left has also given air to his teammates.
Frank Lampard, Khiry Shelton, Thomas McNamara and David Villa have converted goals thanks to this Costa Rican supply line.
Villa says of Matarrita: “We needed a player like him for our left wing, who can also play on the attack.”
“Mata,” as his teammates call him, has enjoyed every moment of the season.
He added: “As the best year of my career as a professional footballer comes to an end, I carry the lessons I’ve learned into my personal life.
“It’s been an incredible year.”
Will 2017 be even better for this defender with the soul of a striker? It’s one of many compelling storylines as yet unwritten…