Today we continue our look at memorable World Cup (WC) qualifiers involving teams from around the Americas with one of the most unusual soccer matches of this year.
Costa Rica will be looking to defeat the U.S. at home tonight and exact a measure of revenge after having come on the short end of several previous qualifiers.
In October 2009, Costa Rica was holding on to a late 2-1 lead over the “stars and stripes” and, hence, an automatic berth to the 2010 WC. In the 94th minute, however, Jonathan Bornstein headed in a goal from corner kick that tied the game and forced los ticos into a play-in series for the possibility to enter the WC. Costa Rica would go on to lose that series against Uruguay and, hence, painfully missed booking their ticket to South Africa.
Three-and-a-half years later, Costa Rica and the U.S. would meet again in their first WC qualifier since that cold night in Washington, D.C. As seen in the video below, both teams played last March in blizzard-like conditions in Colorado with whipping winds and blinding snow covering fans and players alike:
Costa Rican soccer officials filed a protest after the match, which was won 1-0 by the U.S., calling for it to be suspended and replayed. The appeal was subsequently rejected by FIFA, which was a decision that did not sit well with some Costa Rican players, coaches, and even President Laura Chinchilla.
In the days leading up to this evening’s match, tico players have tried to downplay the calls in the local media and among some fans for payback.
“We must think positively and put in our maximum efforts,” said Yendrick Ruiz while Michael Barrantes observed (possibly sans irony) “We have to have cool heads but heat in our bodies”.
Costa Rica has never lost at home to the U.S. and they hope to keep that streak alive tonight in the Estadio Nacional. A solid performance on this warm night could lead to a chance to play in one of the world’s hottest tournaments (pun not intended!)
Video Source – YouTube via U.S. Soccer
Online Sources – Univision.com; The Telegraph; The Latin Americanist