U.S. vs Costa Rica: Countdown to Kickoff

Go time is fast approaching in Commerce City, Colorado, where the U.S. national team will take on Costa Rica at 10:00 ET tonight (ESPN).

It’s the Americans’ biggest game since the Round of 16 match against Ghana at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and our sauve special correspondent Our Man at the Valley will be there, liveblogging the game for Backpost. Come back and join us for his on-site commentary and criticism (mostly of the concession-stand fare) during what should be a cracking game.

As you’re no doubt aware, there’s been some friction in the air at the U.S. camp.

How well the team deals with that, as well as with the multiple player absences, are the leading questions heading up to kickoff.

As for the controversy, coach Jurgen Klinsmann has handled the problem fairly well—he’s been unruffled and, in typical Klinsmann fashion, he found a silver lining during a press conference in Denver yesterday: “I think it’s a great sign, all the debate that is going on about soccer in this country. It shows you that people care.”

Responding to the specifics in Straus’s article, Klinsmann had this to say:

“Obviously I prefer that if you have a problem with me, come to me and talk to me about it. The so-called ‘anonymous quotes’ where we do don’t know who said it; is it a player, is it an agent, is it a fan or whoever? But it doesn’t distract us from what we’re here for or. Our focus is strictly Costa Rica…. It really doesn’t bother me that much. If it’s true, which obviously it’s still a rumor because if you say ‘anonymous sources’ then you gotta name it, then you’d rather prefer as a coach or as individual, no matter who you are, that people talk to you directly if they have something to complain about. It’s as simple as that.”

As for the player absences, there’s a lot of chatter this morning that DaMarcus Beasley could start at left back. Here’s a thought: No.

Beasley defends well from his left-mid spot, but he is not a defender. U.S. fans have found that out before, and now is not the time for them to re-learn it. But we’re all for Beasley getting a starting nod—in midfield, where he can provide much needed width and speed.

For all the stuff that’s been swirling around this week, the team seems relaxed and ready to perform. Take a look:

Bradley cracks a smile there over the ‘anonymous critics’ fallout, and Gomez points out that all the hullabaloo can be helpful in the long run, as a fallback experience for dealing with the pressure cooker of an actual World Cup game.

Whatever their mindset, they’ll need to be at their best to beat Costa Rica, a team they haven’t defeated since 2005. That’s right, the U.S. is 11-12-6 alltime against the Ticos, but have not beaten them in eight years. They’ll be hoping for a little magic of the kind Tab Ramos provided vs Costa Rica in this pivotal 1997 WC qualifier:

Enjoy the game, and be sure to tune in for Our Man’s bulletins from Commerce City.

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