ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada – With very little room for error, Costa Rica (1W-0D-1L, 3 points) will meet the first-place United States (2-0-0, 6) in the last Group B match for each Tuesday at the 2016 CONCACAF Under-17 Women’s Championship.
What makes the situation particularly difficult for the Central Americans is that the U.S. – a team that has never lost in 22 all-time CU17W games -- needs only a draw to advance to the semifinals. A draw, though, may prove be good enough for Costa Rica as well, but it would also need for Jamaica to defeat Mexico later in the day.
The mathematics of potential tiebreakers could become dizzying. Costa Rica midfielder Irela Rodriguez, however, is only worried about what her team will do on the Grenada National Stadium pitch.
"We are very motivated,” said the 15-year-old. “We know that we don’t have an easy opponent in front of us. They are the favorites in World Cup Qualifying. We have prepared well and we are concentrated on this game.”
After falling 4-2 to Mexico in their opener, the Ticas bounced back with a 3-2 win over Jamaica on Sunday. They twice had to rally from one-goal deficits, before Maria Paula Salas struck for the game-winner one minute into second-half stoppage time.
Head coach Amelia Valverde was pleased to get past the Caribbean champion, but knows that improvement is necessary if Costa Rica is going to get a result against the Americans.
"We knew it was going to be a tough match (against Jamaica) because both teams were playing for everything, but I wanted the performance and the attitude of my players to be elevated,” Valverde commented. “It is never easy being down in the score and less if the goals came following our mistakes.
“I still have it clear that although we have little time we have, there are things to correct in order to fight for passage to the semifinals stage.”
Costa Rica has not reached the CU17W final four since 2010, when it finished in fourth place.