Costa Rica defeated the host USA in a World Cup qualifier at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, on September 1, 2017. (Photo: Mexsport)
HARRISON, New Jersey -- Costa Rica just might call Red Bull Arena its home away from home.
The Ticos have secured two important wins at the stadium of Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls in just under two months.
On July 7, they topped Central American rival Honduras, 1-0, in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. That was followed by Friday’s 2-0 triumph over the host United States in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
“We felt very, very comfortable,” said captain Bryan Ruiz, whose pass set-up the first of Marco Urena's two goals. “This stadium also fits us well. We also beat the U.S. here in a friendly [in 2015]. This game showed us that the stadium fits us well.”
Costa Rica (4W-2D-1L, 14 points) handed the Americans their fourth home qualifying loss in 32 years. It earned a 1-0 win over the U.S. in 1985, a result that eliminated the host from contention for the 1986 World Cup.
Friday’s result gave the second-place visitor a six-point advantage over the U.S. and Honduras with three games remaining.
“We did tremendous amount of planning for this game,” Ruiz concluded. “The captains and coaching staff got together on several occasions during the week to watch certain situations and videos. We even changed some tactics that the coaching staff thought would help us feel more comfortable.”
Costa Rica will next host first-place Mexico (5-2-0, 17) on Tuesday at the Estadio Nacional in San Jose. The Mexicans have already booked a ticket to Russia for next year’s World Cup.