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Winless history in Costa Rica not a concern for confident USMNT

Tim Howard


SAN JOSE, Costa Rica– The history of the USA-Costa Rica rivalry isn’t exactly a prestigious one for the U.S. Men’s National Team. At least not when it comes to visit to this Central American nation. Eight World Cup qualifying visits here have yielded just one point, with seven straight losses being the streak the Americans must look to end on Friday in the latest installment of the rivalry.

That losing streak isn’t on the minds of the current U.S. team. Another streak is. The team’s current 12-game winning streak, the best run in the world at the moment, has the Americans feeling very confident as they prepare to face off with the Ticos at Estadio Nacional on Friday night.

“We obviously know that,” U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard said of  the team’s winless record in Costa Rica. “One of the things that’s been good is we’ve had a lot of firsts under Jurgen so it gives us confidence that we can do it again. Because we’re so close now our sole focus is getting a win. If it happens to come, and it’s a first, that’s great too, but that’s not really that important.”

The U.S. team heads into Friday’s World Cup qualifier brimming with the confidence that comes not only from winning 12 straight, but also winning games on the road like they did last month in a come-from-behind victory against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“It’s not a fluke that our team has won 12 games in a row,” Donovan said. “You could say a few games along the way maybe we didn’t deserve a win here or there, but to win 12 in a row is impressive.

The streak doesn’t matter to the U.S. as much as the fact the Americans are on the cusp of qualifying for the World Cup.

“Not only with us being so close (to qualifying), but also because the expectation has changed,” Howard said. “We’ve won games on the road, away from home. Not just here (in CONCACAF) but in Europe as well.

Howard acknowledged that the winning streak has made an impact on the team’s mood heading into the next round of qualifiers.

“When it comes to game time we’re still nervous and raring to go, and all that, but it changes the atmosphere outside of the field,” Howard said. “It gives it a bit of a light-hearted feel. But we’re still focused, and that’s what happens when you have confidence, and you know you’ve been winning and you’re capable of winning.”

Howard credited the U.S. team’s new aggressive attacking approach with being part of the reason the team has been able to put together a record winning streak.

“In large part, we’ve been pressing teams when the ball turns over, and we’ve made that a priority,” Howard said. “I think when you do that, as you see with Barcelona, who really kind of started all this, you win the ball higher up the field. You’ve got less work to do. You don’t have to build and break a team down. You’ve basically made the ball turn over and you’re right back at them.”

The U.S. won’t be going into Friday’s match looking to take a defensive-minded approach like past U.S. teams have taken in tough road qualifiers. Jurgen Klinsmann and his players made it clear the U.S. will look to go after Costa Rica.

“We don’t want to change a whole lot,” Donovan said. “We have a lot of guys that are playing very well and are very confident, and we just want to keep going.

“We have what it takes to beat this team on Friday,” Donovan said. “And there’s no reason why we can’t go in there with the attitude that we can win this game.”


  1. Until last year, we had never beaten Mexico in Azteca or Italy in Italy. Until this year, we had never beaten Jamaica at the The Office in a WC qualifier and had only drawn Mexico once at Azteca (in 1997). I’m not guaranteeing a win or a draw, but not having the match in that bandbox known as Saprissa is going to at least neutralize the huge home field advantage the Ticos had. I don’t care how “motivated” the Costa Ricans are for the match. The reality is you don’t need any added incentives to get motivated for the match. This is a crucial WC qualifier. That is the only motivation they need. Bringing up Bornstein’s goal is ridiculous. And so is blaming the US for the decisions by CONCACAF during the March Snow Bowl match. Let’s be clear. Bornstein’s goal did not cause CR not to qualify for South Africa. It was blowing a 2-0 lead with 20 minutes. Not only that, they STILL had a chance to qualify but they failed against Uruguay in the intercontinental playoff. The way I see it, Costa Rican football is on a downward spiral. They are bitter that they are in danger of being surpassed by Honduras as one of the regional powers. They are blaming the Americans for their own on the field failures. Sorry Ticos, just win baby. All this gamesmanship and whining is not going to change the results from March or from that match in October, 2009 when Bornstein scored at the death.

  2. I’d take all the gamesmanship…no practice facility, not making balls available, airhorn-blowing cows, taxis stalling the drive to the stadium…if we could just get a ref who isn’t from Mexico in the game right before we play Mexico. With 8 guys on yellows.

  3. Howard did not just compare the USMNT to Barcelona, did he? Stop, stop, stop.

    On another note, the confidence is great. It’s also funny how things go full-circle. In 2009, the US put out an “experimental” lineup with Marvell Wynne and Beasley as the fullbacks, as well as Torres in the midfield and got roasted at Saprissa. Beas in fact was quite atrocious.

    Who’s penciled in at left back for this one? Beasley. I get a feeling he wants to amend for that last game down in CR.

    • That wasn’t really a comparison. He just stated that their priority is to win the ball higher up the field and that Barcelona popularized that tactic.

    • has it been over 4 years? I remember that too vividly. Lots of excitement about getting that 1st win and momentum going in, then players started dropping like flies with injuries and BB rolled an attack minded 4-3-3 line-up that fans were clamoring for, since everyone was so bored of the 4-4-2. Torres was the “it” young dual national player like AJ and Brooks are right now…. and within 15 minutes the game was over as US was overrun and getting bludgeoned on the left side of the defense…

      That game started a USMNT slump that bottomed with the 3-0 Brazil loss in Confed Cup-the “peak of FIRE BB” posts on this site…

      • I remember it pretty much like you do. Saprissa was the difference. BB wasn’t taking that seriously. He was like – here ya go fans…and shut the F up!

        That 3-0 loss to Brazil was followed by some impressive Confed performances if I remember correctly.

        I can’t stand CR and am a little surprised they are doing well while not playing at Saprissa. I think we win this with whatever line up JK puts out there. The US is simply better on GR@SS

      • I remember the match the same way you did, but the events leading up to it were an epic injury/loss of form streak that really didn’t right itself until the Egypt match. Players were openly upset about the glut of matches during that time.

  4. With all the US needed the snow to win in Denver talk I think the guys are fired up to show them they were lucky it was only 1-0. #snowangelgoalcelebration

  5. Yeah that’s all nice and happy talk, but this is Costa Rica. The guys aren’t going to sleep well. They’ll arrive frustrated because their bus will be attacked. They were denied practice facilities and equipment.

    There is actually an official effort by Costa Rican taxi drivers to create a standstill around the bus so they can’t make it on time.

    That place is sh*t.

    • These guys are professionals. They’ve been through all of this before. Everything I’ve read from them so far is that they find the whole situation funny, not frustrating. Assuming Costa Rican officials/citizens don’t do something truly horrendous, I don’t see it bothering the team.

      • None of this stuff is a surprise, so laughing it off is the way to go. It’ll only annoy the would be soccer trolls. And I’m sure the US Soccer officials have plans for how to deal with some of this stuff. If cabbies are really going to try to block traffic, they should just rent a few helicopters for the short trip to the stadium.

    • They aren’t going to sleep well? Their hotel is in a gated compound with no public access. Sleep isn’t going to be a problem.

    • Aw c’mon guys, gamesmanship is one of the reasons we love this game! The taxi drivers driving slowly to cause traffic jams? Brilliant! We all like to think that we, as fans, can help will our team to victory. If you have even a slight chance to possibly have any impact on the game, you’re gonna take it (all within legal and reasonable limits, of course). I’ll be in Columbus for the game on Tuesday and, while I probably won’t throw eggs at Mexico’s bus, if they stop to ask me for directions, I’m sending them to Cleveland!

    • You ever been there? “That place” is wonderful and the people are awesome. Pretty rough statement you make about an entire country.

    • Latin Americans take their futball seriously, maybe too seriously. I saw a piece on
      Diego Valeri of the Timbers who left the Argentine first division for Portland. The inference was that the main reason he left was he wanted to get away from the craziness and intensity and raise his family in a safer environment.


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