Riding Impressive Winning Streak, U.S. National Team Heads Into Hostile Costa Rican Territory
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (CBSNewYork/AP) — The streaking U.S. soccer team will face Costa Rica on Friday night in a World Cup qualifying match that revenge-minded Costa Rican fans have been looking forward to for months.
The United States, riding a 12-game winning streak, leads the six-team CONCACAF final qualifying group with 13 points, two more than Costa Rica with four rounds left.
Costa Rican fans were outraged after a 1-0 loss to the United States in a March 22 game played in heavy snow in Commerce City, Colo. Costa Rica requested the match’s suspension and filed a complaint with FIFA about the field conditions. The complaint was dismissed.
Fans saw those decisions as insults to their national team and seem to be trying to make the Americans as uncomfortable as possible in their country.
Led by coach Jurgen Klinsmann, the U.S. team arrived in Costa Rica on Tuesday night to a hostile reception, with fans throwing eggs at their bus as they were transported from the airport to the hotel.
“We expected that,” midfielder Graham Zusi said. “This is a country passionate about its team. … This all makes it more exciting for us. It will be a battle, but I think we can take advantage of our momentum and do our job here.”
Costa Rican authorities have denied giving any kind of privileges to the visiting team while fans have said they will block the Americans from reaching the National Stadium on Friday.
Klinsmann has tried to tone down the Costa Rican fans’ antagonism. He pointed out he didn’t make it snow in Colorado and praised Costa Rica for its natural beauty and pristine beaches.
The United States has never won in Costa Rica in the playoffs and the Americans want to change that.
“Of course it’s a motivation not to have won here in the playoffs,” midfielder Fabian Johnson said “We’ve had other recent games we won for the first time, and this is another game that we want to change history.”
Costa Rica Coach Jorge Luis Pinto said he has urged his players to keep “their blood hot and their head cool” during the match.
“We will not face an easy opponent,” Pinto said.
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