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April 10, 2021

Who is Wanchope Ábila and what does his nickname mean? ⚽️

Minnesota United’s new striker, Ramón “Wanchope” Ábila is an old friend of our superstar midfielder Emmanuel Reynosa. The two played together at Boca Juniors, the Buenos Aires club I supported when I studied abroad there.

Ábila’s nickname is apparently a reference to the Costa Rican striker Paulo Wanchope, who played for West Ham & Manchester City (& even scored twice in 12 appearances for the Chicago Fire).

The original, Costa Rican Wanchope played for Rosario Central of the Argentine first division for a season, in 2006 (the year after I lived in BsAs). At the time, Ábila was coming up through the youth program at Instituto, a team from Córdoba that typically plays in the Argentine second division. I haven’t yet figured out how Ábila wound up being nicknamed after Wanchope.

Notably, Ábila scored a goal against Boca’s arch-rival, River Plate, in the 2018 final of the Copa Libertadores (the South American Champions League).

This match is infamous for the attack on the Boca bus by River fans after that first match. For safety reasons, the second leg of the tie had to be moved from BsAs to a neutral venue… in Spain. So yeah, that was probably Ábila’s most memorable goal.