USMNT Can Punch Ticket to Brazil with Victory Over Costa Rica

USMNT Can Punch Ticket to Brazil with Victory Over Costa Rica
Posted on September 05, 2013 by Tim

It’s not only Costa Rican soccer players who handle the snow poorly.

There were no warm welcomes for the U.S. men’s national team in Costa Rica this week as fans, the country’s soccer association and even its president tried to make life as hard as possible for the visiting Yanks. Still steamed over a 1-0 loss to the Americans amid a freakish March snowstorm in Denver, hundreds of locals turned up at Juan Santamaría International Airport to wish the Americans well by tossing eggs at the team bus and chanting "USA, no fair play!"

And it’s not just local Ticos fans that are fuming over that World Cup qualifying loss.

It started with President Laura Chinchilla Miranda who took the unusual, and not very diplomatic, step of announcing the Americans would be denied standard priority immigration status offered to most visiting teams. This resulted in players taking a funny, but uncomfortable, 'perp walk' through the public sections of the airport.

And just to be certain the inconvenience level was high enough, the soccer association deployed a 'take our balls and go home' strategy by failing to provide the U.S. with requested game balls for training.

Of course, game balls are nice, but a field to kick them on would be nicer. Jurgen Klinsmann's crew were forced to find their own practice facility after the three Costa Rican FA recommended sites refused the Stars and Stripes access. The team ended up practicing on a dairy farm.

Ultimately the game that caused all the furor was later appealed by the Costa Rican FA and denied by FIFA.

“That was not our fault,” Klinsmann said Wednesday. “I didn't call God to give us some snow.”

So that’s the gamesmanship. What about the Game?

The Tico’s get their shot at vengeance in the national stadium Friday night (10PM EST, beIN Sport). However, with four games remaining, the U.S. leads CONCACAF qualifying with 13 points. Costa Rica is in second place with 11 points.

The Americans come in riding a record-breaking 12-game win streak. With the resurgence of Landon Donovan and the steady, if not stellar, presence of Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley, the team is decidedly more balanced and dynamic than the Ticos.

However, taking three points in a CONCACAF Hexagonal matchup in Latin America is never an easy task and, unlike in Denver, this Ticos team will be at full strength.

The U.S. has has never won a qualifying match in Costa Rica.

USMNT Injuries

Jozy Altidore's availability remains questionable for the match. Altidore sat out Sunderaland's last match with a pulled quadricep. And versatile Seattle Sounder midfielder Brad Evans suffered a calf strain last week and is out. This leaves a pretty sizable whole at right back.

USMNT Questions

Jozy Altidore, Micheal Bradley, Geoff Cameron, Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard, Fabian Johnson, and Jermaine Jones are all carrying cards.

The U.S. needs to be card careful with a homer against Mexico looming.

Bottom Line

Did we mention the U.S. has has never won a qualifying match in Costa Rica? And it most likely won't move the win streak to 13 on Friday.Expect a chippy, physical set with both teams pushing for three.

In the end, the Americans win: 1-1. Expect USMNT to punch their ticket to Brazil against Mexico next week.