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USA at COSTA RICA
Saturday September 7th, 10 PM ET. BEin TV.
Estadio Nacional, Costa Rica.
The US looks ahead to its final leg of WCQs this weekend with a match versus Costa Rica this Saturday and archrivals Mexico on the 10th. The Americans, currently riding a 12 match win streak, look to extend it against two Concacaf rivals this weekend. And while many including myself are looking forward to the battle with Mexico next Tuesday, Costa Rica comes first. And although they may not have the same rivalry with the USMNT as El Tri does, Costa Rica is currently the one sitting in 2nd behind the USA in the overall standings, not Mexico.
The United States are the heavy favorites going into Saturday’s match after a trouncing of the Concacaf region during this summer’s gold cup. Let it be noted that said trouncing was accomplished without the help of many of the U.S.’s biggest stars such as Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley. The Costa Ricans met the U.S. in group play early on and although the MNT pulled off a victory, it was clearly less dominant vs. Costa Rica than it was against, say, Belize (6-1 victory) or Cuba (4-1). But as previously stated, the U.S. was playing severely shorthanded against who was currently the region’s 2nd best team.
Earlier this year, the two faced off during WCQ’s in a Denver Blizzard. The MNT managed to pull away with a 1-0 victory there, despite requests to stop the game from the Costa Rican coaching staff. The game still sits badly with a lot of Costa Rican fans, who reportedly heckled and egged the MNT as they arrived at a Costa Rican airport Saturday. On top of that, Klinsmann’s squad was denied the use of practice fields and the use of the regulation ball to be used for the qualifier.
Now combine these hostilities with the ’09 qualifying match that Costa Rica needed to win in order to get to South Africa. A game where a late American equalizer meant that Costa Rica’s only chance at South Africa was a playoff vs. Uruguay (guess how it went), and it’s safe to say that in the Costa Ricans’ eyes, we’re their biggest rival. Us in America still prefer Mexico.
Projected starting lineups:
COSTA RICA: (4-4-2) (World Rank: 42)
GK: Keylor Navas (Levante-ESP)
D: Carlos Johnson (Cartagines), Geancarlo Gonzalez (Valeregna- NOR), Michael Umana (Saprissa), Junior Diaz (Mainz 05-GER)
MF: Celso Borges (A.I.K.-SWE), Christian Bolanos (Copenhagen-DEN), Yeltsin Tejeda (Saprissa), Diego Calvo (Valerenga-NOR)
F: Bryan Ruiz (Fulham-ENG), Joel Campbell (Olympiacos-GRE)
Coach: Jorge Luis Pinto (Ecuador) (2012-)
Captain: Bryan Ruiz
UNITED STATES (4-4-2) (World Rank: 19)
GK: Tim Howard (Everton-ENG)
D: DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla-MEX), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Michael Parkhurst (FC Augsburg-GER), Michael Orozco (Puebla-MEX)
MF: Clint Dempsey (Sounders FC), Michael Bradley (AS Roma-ITA), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy)
F: Jozy Altidore (Sunderland-ENG), Eddie Johnson (Sounders FC)
Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann (Germany) (2012-)
Captain: Clint Dempsey
3 PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Keylor Navas-G, Costa Rica. Navas was absent during Costa Rica’s run in the gold cup this past summer. And Costa Rica is already a pretty decent team without a world class goalie. Navas’s performance will determine whether or not los Ticos reach the #1 spot in CONCACAF this weekend.
Jozy Altidore-ST, USA. Altidore’s hat trick and assist gave the Yanks a win over 13th in the world Bosnia in a come from behind thriller. They will once again be counting on him to come up big in one of Latin America’s hardest places to play.
Clint Dempsey-MF, USA. Dempsey’s been relatively quiet since arriving in Seattle after a successful Premeir League run. If he remains quiet for the MNT, he may run the risk of losing his starting spot to a pack of young and eager MLS wingers.
PREDICTION: USA overcomes less than desirable conditions to trump Costa Rica 2-1.