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USA vs. Costa Rica: The Pre-Match Tailgate

The U.S. men's national team has already clinched its World Cup berth, but a different goal is at stake in tonight's World Cup qualifier vs. Costa Rica (8pm, ESPN2) at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C.

The Americans will be looking to finish in first place in the CONCACAF Qualifying group and can do so with a victory, and while that motivation is tangible, it isn't quite the same as Costa Rica's motivation, which is driven by the knowledge that a win tonight seals Costa Rica's World Cup berth.

The U.S. team will be battling with the emotional toll delivered by the stunning news that Charlie Davies was involved in a deadly car accident and sits in an area hospital with multiple broken bones and an uncertain future. If head coach Bob Bradley goes with a mostly veteran lineup, the group may be well-equipped to focus on the match and put aside the distractions.

So what should we expect from Costa Rica?

The 'Ticos' trounced Trinidad & Tobago, 4-1, in their first match under new head coach Rene Simoes, but they will be fighting against their trend of struggling badly on the road in qualifying (Costa Rica is 1-3 in road qualifiers and has been shut out in all three losses).

Costa Rica still boasts a dynamic attack with Walter Centeno in his playmaking role and Adolfo Saborio and Bryan Ruiz as dangerous goal-scoring threats. The 'Tico's also feature good speed on the wings, with Esteban Sirias and Pablo Herrera.

Where Costa Rica can be beaten is defensively, where the back-line has gone through some changes and the absence of defensive midfield ace Celso Borges will be felt. If the Americans can control possession, they will be able to test goalkeeper Keilor Navas, something they didn't do when these teams met in June.

How can the Americans capitalize? That depends on the lineup we see. A forward tandem of Conor Casey and Jozy Altidore is a distinct possibility and their combination of size, strength and shiftiness in the penalty area should lead to chances if they can get service from midfield.

Will Bob Bradley stick with a midfield of Landon Donovan, Michael Bradley, Ricardo Clark and Stuart Holden? Don't bet on it. We should see at least one change, with Benny Feilhaber the most likely candidate to get a start, and Jose Francisco Torres another possibility.

If Donovan and Holden can keep the attacking pressure on the wings, and force Costa Rica's wingers to defend, they should keep the pressure off the U.S. defense.

The match should be an emotionally-charged one between two teams with different motivations, but strong motivations nonetheless. The United States should come out flying, and can put the match away early with some clinical finishing. If the U.S. team comes out flat early, Costa Rica has the weapons to punish the United States and become the first visiting team this cycle to win a game in the USA.


SBI will be providing live commentary of tonight's match so be sure to follow along here. For now, please feel free to make this your place for all pre-match discussions.

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I hear you, Jemal, I hear you. You should’ve been on the Gold Cup roster, but apparently, your form can’t compete with our MLS stars.

  2. alex,russ

    that would be straight….it would be funny if ives played and he could be manager

    i hope there are clubs in fifa 10 i havent heard anything about that

    im planning on being on a club in 10 so idk actually, lol

    we would have to be US if we did that though

  3. torpedoman, everyone’s just glad he’s alive, while still respecting the girl’s family and their grieving….once there’s some time passed, i’m sure the responsibility issue will be addressed.

    AND, I suspect many of us have been in similar situations when we were younger and are lucky to be able to talk about them. I know I was, and thanking whatever powers that be that I’m still walking. Can’t imagine the Roberta family’s pain.

  4. i’ll post this again, for anyone who wants. my 360 gamertag is rendinho10. very interested in going somewhere with SBI FC, or just to play with some like minded americans!

  5. If anyone wants to take the lead on putting together an SBI Fifa 09 club team (360) – I’m in. Gamertag: marthaplimpton

  6. i gave you that information on player ratings earlier guys….but i think it might be different like i said

    i have been playing the fifa 10 demo with chicago fire…..i see that the players on youtube are LOWER than on the AMERICAN demo,CJ Brown is 65 on demo and 64 on youtube,blanco is 80 at attacking mid in demo and 77 on youtube,thorrington was 67 on demo and 65 on youtube, and wilman conde is 69 on youtube and 70 or 71 on demo

    so i think i was right

    if anyone else was looking at youtube for europeans putting squad ratings for us to look at then you should probably stop thinking that will happen

    im sure, the americans are lower on their games….thats the only thing it could possibly be

    i thought donovan,howard,dempsey,clark,james riley(60),omar gonzalez(63), and jay demerit(72) were too low!(all of those according to european game version b/c it comes out earlier than ours)

    we are just going to have to wait and see, hopefully im right though….it doesnt make any sence how holden could be a 69 while JFT + Feilhaber are 72’s and freddy montero is a 74(would have said 73, which is also good for holden)

  7. to anyone who care ARG/URU just kicked off. The atmosphere is the stadium is unbeleivable. Not a stretch to compare it to a WC final

  8. My ideal line up without Davies playing is:

    I think it is a must have combo of speed and strength up top so I put Donovan up top for this one.. Also with how good casey played I think he could start where I put altidore even though I’m not the biggest fan.

  9. “Paging Josh Wolff…You might be needed in South Africa!”

    Posted by: MiamiAl | October 14, 2009 at 05:44 PM

    If Josh Sheep makes the WC roster I will have a hard time cheering for the US. I would rather we go 0-3 get rid of Bob, and try again in 4 years. This is a bit extreme, but I wouldn’t be able to take it.

  10. For free online viewing, a channel called “Sports” (subheading: Bofcast Sports) is currently showing ESPN2 on If it is still up at 8 pm, then you should be able to watch the game there. (Veetle offers the highest quality video, imo.)

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