MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Saturday night is the final match for Minnesota United captain Francisco Calvo before he leaves to join his other team — Costa Rica — to train and prepare for the World Cup.

It is an opportunity Calvo is enormously proud of, and excited for good reason.

It is hard here in the United States to understand just how big of a deal the national team, and the World Cup, is most other places around the world. But in Costa Rica, es todo.

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“We are only five million people over there, and football is everything in Costa Rica, you know? You can see the small kids playing on the streets without shoes, with shoes, whatever,” Calvo said.

francisco calvo United Captain Calvo Heading Home For World Cup Prep

Francisco Calvo (credit: CBS)

For Calvo to be able to be on the national team, representing his country in the World Cup, it is about the highest honor one can have.

“I mean, I was in there sometime, you know? I was playing on the streets, too, sometimes,” Calvo said. “I mean, it’s everything, football, in Costa Rica, for us. So we as a group, we know we represent the country, 23 players plus the coaching staff. And it’s a dream come true, you know? And God gave me this opportunity, and I’m going to take it.”

Forgive me for offering the ten millionth reminder that the U.S. did not make the World Cup. But with his presence, Calvo is hoping that at least Minnesotans will have a team to latch onto.

“I hope so [laugh]!” Calvo said. “Yeah, I’m kidding with some of the guys, you know. I’m making fun of them because USA is not in the World Cup, but they always like to support when I go to the National Team, and I know they get happy when I do well.”

United Head Coach Adrian Heath admits that he’s jealous of his captain.

“I achieved a lot in football, but never got to play in the World Cup. So he goes with our blessing,” Heath said. “We’re really all excited, proud for him. It will be nice that we’ve got a representative in the World Cup.”

But not nearly as excited and proud as Calvo is.

“You’re going to be in the world stage, so everybody is looking at you, everybody is looking at your country,” Calvo said. “We are a small country, and we need to take these opportunities.”

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