After losing a 2-0 to Ecuador last week, rumors were rampant that Costa Rica coach, Ricardo La Volpe had coached his last game for the Ticos. Over the weekend it was official, La Volpe and the FEDEDFUTBOL had come to an accord -- he was out. To make matters worse for the Ticos, rumors in Mexico had the Argentine coach returning to his adopted home of Guadalajara, to take over Estudiantes Tecos. Imagine leaving Costa Rica for that team.
La Volpe was pegged to lead Costa Rica back to the World Cup, but was only at the helm for 11 months. His results were less than spectacular: in 17 games, the grouchy one secured only 4 wins, along with 8 draws and 5 losses. In addition, the Gold Cup was an unmitigated disaster: Costa Rica opened with an easy 5-0 win over Cuba, but struggled in a tie with El Salvador. Up next was Mexico.
By the way, is it Lavolpe or la Volpe? I have no idea.
The Lavolpistas (and there are a lot of them) in Mexico were wondering what magic he would conjure to stifle the Tri at Soldier Field. The Ticos were undressed 4-1. The loss led to a quarterfinal match-up with Honduras where they were eventually done in on spot kicks.
It was the beginning of the end.
His battles with the press were legendary, but after the game in Chicago, La Volpe looked shell shocked. He certainly did not expect Mexico's explosion, much less Costa Rica's tepid reaction. He was at a loss.
The Argentine has developed a reputation for being a tactical stalwart, and a developer of talent. But his biggest critics always pointed out that he was obsessed with tinkering, and his whatever soccer smarts he did have were always outweighed by his abrasive personality. Perhaps it was the latter that did not mesh with the low-key, easy going, Pura Vida lifestyle in Costa Rica. He did cite communication problems with his players as the reason for his departure. But he did seem to get through to one guy; 19-year old Joel Campbell was a bright spot for the Ticos this summer and will now be playing for Arsene Wenger's Arsenal.
It turns out, though, that Estudiantes will not be the next destination for La Volpe as they announced the defensive-minded Raul Arias as their man to lead them out of the relegation zone. Arias will be their 28th short season coach (since 1996). That's 2 a year. Sounds like it is the only coaching post in the world that is managed by a temp agency.
La Volpe's future is unclear, but one team that could definitely use his talent is one that is also in Guadalajara and close to his heart. The longest tenure he enjoyed as a coach was at Atlas.. the first time he coached there. But he might be better off leading their youth academy, where he can best use his eye for talent, and stay out of the media storm he seems to detest so much.
But someone will take a chance on him again. And they'll be doing so on a guy who carries a lot of baggage and has only managed to win two championships in his nearly 30 years as a coach.
By the way... is it Lavolpe or La Volpe. I have seen it both ways.