Chivas' Umaña: 'It's a lot of pride'

September, 2, 2011
9/02/11
6:46
AM PT

Michael Umana Drew Hallowell/Getty ImagesChivas USA's Michael Umana will be right at home when he suits up for Costa Rica against the U.S. in a friendly match at the Home Depot Center.


CARSON -- Costa Rica will have one player on the field Friday night feeling right at home.

The Ticos take on the U.S. at Home Depot Center (ESPN2 and Galavision, 8 p.m.), and they'll be led by Chivas USA's Michael Umaña.

The 29-year-old central defender, one of the Ticos' most experienced players, is a 2004 Olympian who played in the 2006 World Cup. He started 28 of 30 games for Chivas last year, but new head coach Robin Fraser gave him virtually no time for the first 2½ months of this season.

An injury opened the door for Umaña on June 1, and he's started every game since.

He can make his 47th appearance for Costa Rica at HDC and his 48th in another friendly Tuesday against Ecuador in Quito.

Here's five questions with Umaña:

1. What does it mean to you to be called up for this game, especially with it in your home stadium?

It's a lot of pride for me to be in this situation. I've always prepared myself to be called, but especially with an opportunity like this, on my home field, a field I know well.

I'm going to try to take advantage of it. It's a new call-up, and it's always good to do the right thing with my national team, as a professional and as a soccer player. To take advantage of everything.

2. What's the next step need to be for Costa Rica?

We just had one head coach that was removed [Ricardo Lavolpe], and we have an interim coach [Ronald Gonzalez], and Costa Rica has to name a new head coach [Jorge Luis Pinto, announced Thursday] and let him work.

Then everybody needs to collaborate and make sure we're all looking for the same result, which is to be in Brazil [for the] 2014 World Cup.

3. You've been steady in the back for Chivas USA this season, but it didn't start off as you'd like. You played all of two minutes in the first 11 MLS games, then got your chance, and you've barely left the field since.

I didn't begin the season as a starter, but I knew there was going to be an opportunity at any moment, and I worked hard to have that. Now that I have it, I'm doing what I can to stay in the starting 11.

4. You were a starter last year, but Chivas has a new head coach, a new technical staff, a lot of new players. You seemed like the odd man out.

I believe it happens from time to time, especially when you have a new coach. This was not the exception for me. I feel that I have the capacity to be working hard day to day, and I was going to prepare myself for training. I knew I was going to get an opportunity, and once I had it, I was going to take advantage of it.

5. What has been the high point of your international career, the thing you really hold in your heart?

Well, there's two of them. When we qualified for the Olympic Games and then when we went to Athens in 2004. And the one that's really marked me was the opening ceremonies for the 2006 World Cup [in Munich].

It was an honor for me -- to open up the whole Cup. We weren't able to get the result we were looking for [losing to Germany, 4-2], but it was a very gratifying moment.

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