Top Stories

Donovan says USMNT squad believes they can win in Costa Rica

Landon Donovan

Photo by


As the 2014 World Cup in Brazil draws nearer, the U.S. Men’s National Team heads into their toughest stretch of World Cup qualifying this month with matches against Costa Rica on the road and Mexico at home.

Despite the difficult task ahead for the squad, midfielder Landon Donovan believes confidence is soaring throughout the team.

“I don’t think I’ve ever felt as confident about getting a result on one of these trips, Donovan said to about facing Costa Rica on the road. “We need to go in with the mindset that we absolutely can win this game, and that has to be the mentality. If we carry that energy and that belief onto the field Friday night, everyone is going to sense it on both teams and we have a real chance to do something special.”

It’s nearly the polar opposite from the last time that head coach Jurgen Klinsmann prepared his squad for matches against Costa Rica, when the side was coming off a poor loss at Honduras and had hardly impressed in recent matches. Fast-forward to the start of September and the USMNT are currently in the middle of a 12-match winning streak, the longest in team history.

Add to that the 2013 Gold Cup title this summer and the team’s current status in first place of the Hexagonal in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, and it shouldn’t be a surprise that Donovan says that the team is starting to really believe that they can win difficult qualifying matches.

“I think we’re at a point now in U.S. Soccer where we can really start to believe these things are possible and have it be realistic,” Donovan said. “That doesn’t mean it happens every time. We go in expecting to be at least on the same level as them and have a realistic chance to win that game.”

With the team sitting on 13 points from six games, automatic qualification for the World Cup becomes a real possibility within the next two games. According to U.S. Soccer, the USMNT could qualify on Friday night with a win in Costa Rica, a draw between Mexico and Honduras, and either a loss or draw by Panama against Jamaica.

However, it’s more likely that Donovan and Co. will have the opportunity to qualify for Brazil 2014 at home on Tuesday against Mexico in Columbus, Ohio. It’s an opportunity that the team is dreaming about.

“There would be no better feeling than standing on the field in Columbus on Tuesday night and all of us celebrating,” Donovan said. I can envision scarves around our neck, American flags, the crowd going crazy and everybody celebrating together. That would be an incredible moment, but there is a lot that has to happen before that.

“The beauty of it is that it’s all in our hands. The last thing you want to do in these situations is come down to games nine or 10 having to qualify. Nothing is guaranteed in World Cup Qualifying. It happens every time where big teams don’t qualify for the World Cup.

“We’ve put ourselves in a fantastic position and now we need to really smell the blood and go for it and finish it off.”


  1. LD really likes talking about the player morale situation on the USMNT. First that Sporting News article, and now this …

  2. I hate it when players are confident and willing to say so publicly. It just makes me nervous because so often it turns into a nice surprise for the opposition. I just hope all the US players and JK remember that this is a WCQ in a hostile environment and that fighting hard will be required for anything good to happen. The US players on yellow cards are in a tough spot, they will be trying to battle hard, but hopefully not so hard to draw another yellow.

  3. Without getting rid of the inferior mindset, we will never progress at the World Cup. Saying you believe and actually believing are two totally different things. I think this squad and staff believe (insert I Believe chant here).

  4. I agree with Donovan, now Klinsmann needs stop playing favorites and put Donovan more natural position (behind Altidore), and makes us proud.

    • That is not Donovan’s natural position nor is he playing favorites, nor should you complain about a manager who has the longest winning streak in world football and a 1st place position in world cup qualifiers. Bogus comment.

      • And Donovan is big part of longest winning streak in the World football. Donovan playing as withdraw forward or forward gives USNT amazing results, while playing on flanks limited creation of attacks.

      • So true, Scott, so true. I just can’t argue with facts. Over the last several years when Donovan has been used wide, I think he’s only just barely the leading goal scorer and assist creator. His chances were very limited, indeed…

      • So true, Smoke.

        Landon has suffered most of his career with the USMNT playing wide. Oh, how he and the US have suffered for that. I blame Bob Bradley.

  5. I’m not saying this will happen, but if Mexico gets, say, five points in their next four matches, are they in real danger of not qualifying?

    They have Honduras in Azteca (win),
    USA in Columbus (loss),
    Panama in Azteca (tie), and
    Costa Rica in Costa Rica (tie).

    That would leave them with 13. Could Panama or Honduras catch them at that pace?

    Dare we dream?

    • But even if Honduras OR Panama catches them, then they still go to the playoff against Oceania (well, as long as we’re treating Jamaica as eliminated, which I assume we are). There are lots of scenarios in which Honduras or Panama catches them.

      Using your results for Mexico, everyone else winning their home games leaves US with 19, Costa Rica with 15, and Mexico/Honduras/Panama all on 13, so depending on goal differential, that would see Mexico eliminated.

      If, say, we assume Jamaica will at best draw their remaining home games (not an unrealistic possibility) and everyone else wins remaining home games, then CR goes to 16, Honduras to 14, and Mexico/Panama left tied for 4th. Jamaica home losses would further boost CR and Honduras.

      If, on top of all of that, Panama force a draw in Honduras and Honduras beats Jamaica in Jamaica, then Mexico finishes alone in 5th place (CR = 16 points, H and P = 14 points, M = 13).

      There may be another scenario that results in Mexico being flat out eliminated in the Hex, but that’s what I came up with in a few minutes.

    • If they tie Honduras Friday and then lose to US next week, it will be sphincter tightening time all through Mexico. Especially if Panama beats Jamaica. However, Panama has a very tough last 3 games. @ Honduras, @ Mexico (this will be huge), and home to us.

      Panama is 2 points behind Mexico. If Honduras and Mexico tie and Panama wins, it’s:

      Mexico 9
      Panama 9
      Honduras 8′

      Then if Panama sneaks a draw at Honduras and we whip up on Mexico, its:

      Panama 10
      Honduras 9
      Mexico 9

      Round 9, Honduras is at Jamaica and Panama is at Mexico for all the Marbles. If Panama gets a draw there:

      Honduras 12
      Panama 11
      Mexico 10

      That means, going into the last round. Honduras is at Jamaica, almost assuring they qualify. Mexico is at Costa Rica and Panama hosts a US team that may accidentally send our U-17 team. Mexico would have to beat Costa Rica and hope that we get a result at Panama.

  6. Somebody help me here. I haven’t done a math problem in about 20 years. Why do we want Mexico and Honduras to tie? Wouldn’t we rather have this scenario play out:

    1). USA beats CR, gives us 16 points.
    2). Mex beats Hon, giving Mex 11 and keeping Hon on 7
    3). Jaimaca beats Pan, leaving Panama stuck on 6

    In that scenario we’re 9 points up on the 4th place team. If Mex-Hon tie, we’re only 8 points up.

    Somebody explain please

    • Because we never want Mexico to win 😉

      Not a math teacher but I assumed that the Mex/Hon tie would be the best because they are our two biggest competitors (behind CR) and having both teams losing out on 2 points as opposed to one team getting all 3 would be better mathematically because there are fewer chances for a team (Mex/Hon) to pick up points??

      I don’t know…sorry if I wasted your time!!!

    • I don’t think the results of any other game matter if we can win our next two, we are qualified for Brazil.

      We’ll be a minimum of 9 points up over Mexico, 6 points up over Honduras, 7 points up over Panama, and 11 points up over Jamaica, and obviously all 4 of them can not take maximum points as they play each other.

      If we win both, with two games left, it will be officially done.

      Now, I would love to see Mexico knocked out, so I hope they lose tbh.

    • In your scenario it is possible for the US to lose out and be stuck at 16 points, Costa Rica and Mexico to land at 17 points and Honduras to end up at 16 and beat us on goal difference.

      Under the scenario where Mexico and Honduras tie, Honduras would have one more point, but more importantly, Mexico would have 2 less. There would be no way that all three teams (CR, Mexico, Honduras) could get to at least 16 points, so even if the US lost out, we would be in.

    • Think of it this way. The US’s magic number is 7 right now. Meaning 7 points either won by the US, or lost by Honduras. In your scenario, a US win in CR and a Honduras loss would make the magic number 1 (7 – 3 -3 = 1) to be one of the three auto-qualifiers. If part 3 of your scenario plays out, the US would have clinched at least the 4th spot (the magic number there is 6 points won by the US &/or lost by Panama).

      I hope that makes sense.

  7. LD should have kept those glasses from the Gold Cup match, and as soon as he walked out into the sun to be greeted by legions of annoying, bad-spirited Ticos supporters, he should have put them on dramatically.

  8. Related to Mexico rather than Costa Rica – Do we know who on the Mexico squad is carrying a yellow into the Honduras game? We’ve got eight players set to miss a match on their next yellow and I’m just curious how many Mexico has and if any are star players.
    Thanks in advance for any insight.

  9. On current form, the US wins this handily in a neutral site. Taking into account the difficult venue, and the CONCACRAP referee, a draw is a likely result.

  10. Anyone who has ever been an athlete knows you go into every game thinking you can win. It’s unusual for a guy like Donovan to say it, but I like the honesty and competitiveness of the team going into the two most important matches of the qualifying cycle.

  11. I was at the 3-1 loss at Costa Rica in the cycle for 2010. I attended alone to the old stadium and all the Tico (costa rican) fans were polite and surprised to see a US fan sitting in their section. Maybe because we went down early everyone was nice and I didn’t see any misbehaving and no alcohol was sold at the stadium! However I did see a spirited CR side who were proud to play and beat the USMNT handily. I agree with JK, don’t take the Ticos lightly and we should be happy with a point. I think we have a better chance for three at home against Mexico than three on the road in San Jose!

  12. LD is being too kind because he wants to respect his opponent but this team has to feel like the favorites even in this hostile environment. I want the US to crush CR 3-1.

    As for the Mexico match. It should be another good one with the US using all their momentum to defeat mexico tres a cero.


Leave a Comment