Tragedy also hit the national team during 2011, when defender Dennis Marshall (along with his wife) died in a car accident. Marshall died just five days after scoring his only international goal in a CONCACAF Gold Cup match against Honduras.
The year marked a significant recovery in the team status within the Confederation, after several years of decay. In January, the team won the Copa Centroamericana after two consecutive failures in 2009 and 2011. In September, Costa Rica qualified to the 2014 FIFA World Cup after their absence in the 2010 edition. 2013 also marked the year with the most victories for the Costa Rica national team, with 13 victories.
On March 22, Costa Rica played against the United States at the Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City. The match, dubbed as the Snow Clásico in the United States, was played under a heavy snow fall. As the United States won the match with a goal by Clint Dempsey, Costa Ricans were enraged by the circumstances around the match. On September 6, the Ticos would defeat the United States in San José by 3–1, which was considered as a revenge.
On October 15, Costa Rica defeated Mexico in San José by 2–1, which marked the first victory over the Mexican team in over twelve years, the latest being the Aztecazo in June 2001. It was also the first victory Costa Rica had against Mexico in home soil for over twenty years.
The year, regarded to be the best in the history of Costa Rican football, saw the Ticos becoming the revelation team at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
After being drawn into Group D —along with former World Champions Uruguay, Italy and England—, initial reaction towards the team was of mockery, and underestimation. During a segment of TeleSUR program De Zurda, Diego Maradona mocked the team by saying "if I was Costa Rican, I would have to shoot myself [in the balls]". Costa Rica topped the group undefeated after beating both Uruguay and Italy, finishing with a draw against England. The Ticos would defeat Greece in the Round of 16 throughout the penalty shootouts. Costa Rica was then eliminated by the Netherlands in the quarter-finals again in the penalty shootouts.
During most of the year, the team suffered with lackluster results, including their second worst streak without winning. The CONCACAF Gold Cup saw the Ticos reaching the quarterfinals with three draws in the group stage –against Jamaica, El Salvador and Canada– only to be eliminated by Mexico with a controversial penalty awarded to the Mexicans.
On August 11, the team's manager Paulo Wanchope was involved in a fight during a match of the under-23 national team. After the match the team played against Panama at the Estadio Maracaná, Wanchope tried to enter the pitch from the stands, being prevented to do so by a security official. During the struggle with the guard to open the gate, Wanchope accidentally hit a boy and proceeded to fight with the guard. After the incident, Wanchope met with members of the Costa Rican Football Federation and announced his resignation from the management of the national team.
The qualification process was interrupted by the Copa América Centenario, for which Costa Rica prepared by once again facing Venezuela in San José, this time won by the Ticos. Costa Rica began the tournament with a scoreless draw against Paraguay, However, the Costa Rican aspirations came to an abrupt end after a 4–0 loss against the United States, to which La Nación criticized the lack of a second defensive midfielder as an important factor for the defeat, as manager Óscar Ramírez decided to use Celso Borges alone in that position. Already eliminated after the Americans defeated Paraguay, the Costa Ricans redeemed themselves by defeating Colombia by 3–2.
Costa Rica began the Hexagonal with a 0–2 win against Trinidad and Tobago in Port of Spain. The Ticos went on to avenge their Copa América Centenario 4–0 defeat against the United States by defeating the Americans in San José by the same score. The victory marked the departure of United States' coach Jürgen Klinsmann and also secured the first place for Costa Rica.
The qualification process was interrupted in July by the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Costa Rica began the tournament by defeating Honduras with a lone goal by Marco Ureña, marking the first time the Ticos defeated Honduras in a Gold Cup match.La Sele went on to top their group after a draw against Canada and a victory against French Guiana. In the quarter-finals, Costa Rica defeated Panama with an own goal by Aníbal Godoy, thus making the Ticos qualify to the Gold Cup semifinals for the first time since 2009. The United States defeated Costa Rica in the semifinals with goals by Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey.
In September, Costa Rica defeated the United States in New Jersey as Marco Ureña, who was subject of criticism because of his lack of effectiveness, scored a brace to secure the first Costa Rican win over the Americans in U.S. since 1985, also ending Bruce Arena's undefeated streak since he took over the management of the United States national team. Ureña scored again four days later against Mexico in San José, in a match that ended in a draw, as a side post deflected a shot by Johan Venegas, denying the Ticos the chance to qualify to the World Cup that day.
Devastation left by Hurricane Nate forced the Costa Rican Football Federation to postpone the match against Honduras in San José, originally programmed for October 6, to the next day. Costa Rica secured their presence at the 2018 FIFA World Cup with a draw against the Hondurans with a stoppage time header by Kendall Waston. Costa Rica ended the qualification process as the second place of the Hexagonal after a loss against Panama in the last matchday, which allowed the Panamanians to qualify to their first ever World Cup. The match was met with controversy as referee Wálter López granted Panama's Blas Pérez a goal, in spite of the ball never crossing the line.