Portland Timbers midfielder David Guzmán and Costa Rica booked their place in the 2018 FIFA World Cup during the next-to-last game of CONCACAF qualifying, needing only a 1-1 draw at home against Honduras to clinch one of their region’s three spots. Down in the fifth minute of second-half stoppage time, the Tucos got a last-ditch goal from Kendall Watson to earn their Cup-qualifying draw.

Guzmán shared his World Cup thoughts, memories, and dreams before he left Portland and joined his team ahead of Russia.

“The last few minutes of that game, knowing that we were so close to qualifying but also being down by one goal, knowing that we just needed a tie to get in. When we saw the ball go in, it was the greatest moment of my soccer career. The people went crazy. We celebrating with them, celebrating with our families. It was a full house. It was such a great moment.”

“[My family] were thrilled. It’s a great group of people that I have around me, supporting me, through good moments, bad moments. This was such a good moment. They were just happy that we’re getting such a great opportunity, that I was ready for it, and it’s just a great feeling for everybody to know I was going to get to represent my country.”

“It was definitely a dream come true. Now we just need to continue to work very hard to prepare to do the best we can to defend my country’s colors.”

Patriotism is one of the defining qualities Guzmán evokes when talking about his coming World Cup. Faith was another dominant motive, as we securing his place in his country’s history, one that could serve as an example for the next generation of David Guzmáns.

“First of all, I want to thank God for the opportunity to go and represent my country in a World Cup. With faith and hard work and everything, perhaps avoiding another injury that will keep me off, or just a bad performance. After that, the objectives are very clear. We have three very tough games in a very tough group. We’re going to have to play very well, but I believe that we can, and I believe that we can advance.”

“[The first game] is going to be incredibly happy moment for me. One of my dreams was to sing my national anthem at a World Cup. It’s amazing to think I’ll have the opportunity to do that. After that, it’s going to be 100 percent focus on the game, because we have some very important games, and we need look for ways to win, to get points, to continue into the second round.”

“It’s important to be part of the country’s soccer history. But [also] just being a good role model to the kids who are starting to have those kind of dreams, themselves, and get happiness from what we’re going. You want to be a good example, to them, and you want to be a part of that history with your country.”

When he plays, Guzmán will also join the long and storied history of the World Cup, one decorated with the midfield legends that inspired him to reach Russia.

“The first World Cup I remember is Korea/Japan (in 2002). I had to wake up at 2 a.m. to watch, and all the time I was thinking one of these days, I hope God gives me a chance to play on those games. Now, He’s given that to me, and I’m going to give my best so that I can represent my country well.”

“In previous World Cups, I always focused on players who played my position the best. Patrick Vieira – I loved him. Gennaro Gattuso, he more or less played my position, too. Those are players that I admire, that I wanted to be like but also have their success. The won. Those are the type of players that I liked to watch, and I also hope to follow in their footsteps.