Costa Rica vs USMNT
Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica – San Jose, Costa Rica
Friday, September 6, 2013 – 10pm ET
The chances that the second meeting of these teams will be dampened by snow are about as likely as a snowballs chance in hell. Full credit to the fans of Los Ticos as they are doing everything in their power to to make sure that the USMNT feels like that snowball mentioned above. As soon as the Americans stepped off the plane they were reminded they were not in Commerce City, Colorado anymore. Fans were screaming, pounding their chests and saluting the visitors with a single raised finger. If you get the chance to, check out Omar Gonzalez’s video he posted on Instagram of their reception in San Jose, but please don’t have the volume turned up at work.
These are the head of the class in CONCACAF to this point in the Hexagonal. Only Costa Rica and the USMNT have collected double digit points to this in qualifying, with 11 and 13 points respectively. Both of these sides come in with only 1 loss and a +4 goal differential. Since the Snow Bowl the second game of the Hex both teams have two wins and a draw (both 0-0 draws at Mexico). There really is nothing to split these two teams besides the 2 points in terms of Hexagonal performance.
The two sides also met up in the CONCACAF Gold Cup this summer, being drawn into the same group. Both teams beat Cuba and Belize, but it was a counterattack that broke a 0-0 deadlock that gave Klinsmann and company the group win. They seemed destined to go head to head in the semi-finals as well, but Honduras was able to upset Los Ticos and knock them out in the first knockout round. It could well have been a team looking to far ahead and not paying attention to the game they were playing first. The USMNT went on the win the Gold Cup and continue their streak of 12 straight victories.
Match Up to Watch
Alvaro Saborio vs USMNT Centerbacks
The duo of Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler are still relatively new to the international scene. They were thrust into the fire early in the Hexagonal, but have been a key piece to the great run of form of late. Saborio is very familiar with both of these players, playing in MLS for Real Salt Lake. He is the leading goal scorer for Costa Rica so far in qualifying and will need to use the hostile environment to his advantage. He has been unable to find the back of the net in the past two appearances against the USMNT this year.
If the USMNT’s current run of 12 straight victories is to continue, they will need to do something they have never accomplished…win in San Jose. The USMNT has never won a qualifier in Costa Rica and have taken only 1 point from 8 matches. If history wasn’t enough going against them, the whole of Costa Rica will be out for revenge. They take what happened in Commerce City personally and feel as if they were robbed of points due to conditions that were not fitting of the beautiful game. Knowing how hostile the environment is going to be, it is important to take the crowd out of the game. Killing any moment early and making sure not to concede an early goal are key. Let the pressure build up for the Costa Rican players and take advantage when an opportunity presents itself.
Predicted USMNT Roster
Cameron – Gonzalez – Besler – F. Johnson
Jones – Bradley
Zusi – Dempsey – Donovan
Costa Rica 1-1 USMNT