United States vs. Costa Rica Preview

What a difference five months has made for the U.S. men’s soccer team. In March, there was pressure on the players and coach Jurgen Klinsmann after a lackluster qualifying loss to Honduras to start the CONCACAF hexagonal of World Cup Qualifying in February. The U.S. faced two tough qualifiers in late March against Costa Rica in Denver and at Mexico. To make matters worse, the U.S. had a long list of injuries to key defenders and goalkeeper Tim Howard wasn’t fit for either match.

In what felt like a must-win game at home against Costa Rica, the U.S. won the match and rode the momentum throughout the summer. It wasn’t the prettiest performance by the Americans in a snowy climate where the ball could barely be seen. However, it was a gutsy showing and one that defined a Klinsmann coached soccer team. The U.S. scored an early goal through Clint Dempsey and the rest of the match relentlessly defended to preserve three points. Four days later the U.S. went to Mexico City and again defended strongly in a 0-0 stalemate. The man who replaced Howard, Brad Guzan recorded his second straight clean sheet.

This summer a full strength U.S. team played positive, attractive soccer in three qualifying wins and their “B” team strolled through the Gold Cup. The memorable summer was capped off with a 4-3 victory in Bosnia that saw Jozy Altidore score a second half hat trick to shock the crowd in Sarajevo. Continue reading