USMNT looks to further World Cup hopes in Costa Rica

Ahead of Tuesday's massive WCQ against Mexico, the USA has business to take care of in Costa Rica.

U.S. National Team @ Costa Rica
2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying; CONCACAF regional tournament
September 6, 2013, 7 pm PT; Estadio Nacional in San Jose, Costa Rica
TV: BeIN Sports

Throughout the Hexagonal Round of qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the U.S. National Team has been on a tear.

For all of the momentum that comes with 12 straight victories, though, the U.S. now faces a stiff test in the next pair of qualifying matches when it goes to Estadio Nacional to take on Costa Rica in the second meeting between the two sides in this round of the tournament on Friday, then hosts Mexico at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, on Tuesday.

In the match the U.S. will seek to win their first ever qualifier in Costa Rica, holding an 0-7-1 record there while going 6-1-2 at home. Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann is no stranger to landmark road victories, though. After previous wins in Italy and Mexico, the U.S. also earned its first victory in Jamaica earlier in the Hexagonal Round, getting the game-winning score from Brad Evans.

“We have a lot of respect for Costa Rica and it’s important that the players always respect their opponent and know what to expect. They can expect a very intense game, a high energy game, but I think we have the quality and the mindset to be confident enough to go there for three points,” Klinsmann said. “I think more and more that this belief is getting bigger. It’s growing throughout the entire group, and we have a deeper roster than ever before. Hopefully we can take that mindset down to San Jose and win there for the first time ever in World Cup qualifying.”

Klinsmann will welcome Landon Donovan back to the side for the first time in World Cup qualifiers since June 12, 2012. With a red-hot Jozy Altidore up front, and Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and Eddie Johnson joining the attack, the team Klinsmann has available is being compared to some of the best the U.S. has fielded.

It comes at the right time, too, as the matches with Costa Rica and Mexico could prove pivotal in the qualifying process, but to Klinsmann, all of the matches in the Hexagonal Round hold the same importance. Even through that steely focus, he admitted that a victory in Costa Rica would be a big step toward reaching the team’s goals

“I have the approach that the next game is always the biggest one, but this game could put us absolutely in the driver’s seat for Brazil,” Klinsmann said. “I think if we are able to get three points in San Jose next Friday then we’re almost in Brazil. That’s why I don’t want the players to think, not even for one second, about Mexico in Columbus. I want them just to tune in for San Jose, Costa Rica, and give everything they have.”

Friday’s match has added intrigue because of the first meeting between the two sides in March in a blizzard in Colorado, where the U.S. plowed their way to a 1-0 victory over Costa Rica that has caused quite a stir for Los Ticos and made for an interesting week for the Americans.

Once they get past the chants of “USA! No fair play!” and eggs thrown at the team bus, the U.S. will need to face a difficult task in knocking off Costa Rica, who are second in the Hexagonal Round through six matches.

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