Costa Rica (above) celebrates after scoring in a CONCACAF Gold Cup match against Cuba on July 9, 2013. (Photo: Mexsport)
By Michael Lewis
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica -- No one has to remind Costa Rica head coach Jorge Luis Pinto and captain Bryan Ruiz about the vital nature of Friday night's World Cup Qualifying match against the visiting United States.
The Ticos might have sporting payback on their minds for losing the March 22 game at the U.S. that was played in snowy conditions, but they cannot afford to let it affect them mentally.
"I want my team to have hot blood and cool head to handle the context of the game, because a detail or carelessness can harm us in many things, but also a detail or an opponent's carelessness can give us victory,” said Pinto.
Costa Rica enters the encounter at the Estadio Nacional in second place with a 3-2-1 record and 11 points, trailing the U.S. (4-1-1, 13 points). A win will jump the Central Americans into the CONCACAF hexagonal lead and inch them closer to a berth at Brazil 2014.
"These are just three points that bring us closer to the goal we all want, which is to be in the World Cup," Ruiz said.
The Ticos have never lost a home qualifier to the United States, boasting a 7-1-0 mark. The host, however, is not taking its foe lightly.
Center-midfielder Celso Borges, though, stated that his side must focus on what it needs to do in order to achieve the desired result.
"I think the biggest challenge is within ourselves, so that we can prove that we can and we're going to take that step, to be closer to the World Cup," said the 25-year-old, who scored two goals in a 4-0 friendly win at the Dominican Republic last month. "Today we take to practice important movements and to correct errors that have been committed in the past and we cannot let that happen again."
Costa Rica has won four consecutive home qualifiers, outscoring its opponents by a combined score of 12-0.
NOTES: In their last meeting, the United Stated defeated Costa Rica, 1-0, in a Group Stage match at the CONCACAF Gold Cup on July 16, 2013.