COMMENTARY | The Costa Rica football federation is less than pleased with US Soccer.
Odds are that if you're reading this, you probably remember that March World Cup Qualifier involving the United States Men's National Team and Costa Rica. There was a massive winter storm in Colorado, Jermaine Jones got a snow-fro, and the US earned a victory and three points. Despite the fact that both sides had to play in the unfriendly conditions, Costa Rica felt particularly wronged by the whole ordeal.
They're now getting their revenge, and it could ultimately blow up in their faces.
The Jurgen Klinsmann army landed in Costa Rica earlier this week to prepare for the rematch, and life has largely been unkind to them since touching ground. They weren't provided with their typical private terminal at the airport, they've been turned down by training facilities, and the Costa Ricans even refused to give training balls to the visitors. Yes, you read that last one right. Costa Rica are literally taking their balls and staying home. My favorite story thus far involves claims that taxi operators will purposely drive slower than normal on Friday in an attempt to bring traffic to a halt so that the Americans arrive late to the stadium.
I'm all for gamesmanship, rivalries and a country doing whatever possible to have a true home-field advantage for a game that matters. What boggles my mind more than anything about Costa Rica's tactics is that every one of them is, on paper, completely unnecessary. The reason for that is that the US never win a qualifier down there.
Literally. Never. The Americans have a 0-7-1 record in their eight attempts. That draw came all the way back on May 26, 1985. Further evidence to suggest that the US won't get the job done on Friday is the fact that they host hated rivals Mexico in Columbus on Tuesday. A win on that night could be the result that guarantees the Americans a berth in next summer's World Cup. Granted, their ticket to world football's biggest party has essentially been stamped, but making it official against Mexico would be a sweet cherry on top of a delicious sundae.
Now, however, Costa Rica have given the United States real reasons to be up for Friday night's contest. The US players are thus far saying all the right things about the treatment they've received over the past couple of days. "It was a good welcome. It was kind of fun. We don't always have that reception. It's cool," goalkeeper Tim Howard told reporters. You can be sure that those fuzzy and warm feelings will disappear Friday evening when the first whistle blows. What was merely an undercard showdown leading us all to Tuesday night's CONCACAF main event is now an opportunity for everybody sporting the US badge on Friday to give one big "shhhhhhh" to their inhospitable hosts.
You don't mess with Texas. You don't poke the bear. Most importantly, you don't antagonize a team that's on a 12-game winning streak, one that, had Costa Rica made nice, probably would have been just fine with a 0-0 draw that included everybody returning home healthy and not on any card suspensions. Klinsmann's squads have made history throughout 2013.
What's once more?
For more: Costa Rica cries
Zac has been covering the USMNT, Holland, Tottenham Hotspur, New York Red Bulls, Major League Soccer and other soccer leagues for Yahoo Sports since 2010.
- Sports & Recreation
- Costa Rica