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Costa Rica v USA: a WCQ review
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Action from the World Cup qualifier between the visiting USA and host Costa Rica (red jersey) on September 6, 2013, in San Jose. (Photo: Imagenes en Costa Rica)

 

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica -- When the United States visits Costa Rica at the Estadio Nacional on Tuesday night, if history is any guide, it will have an uphill battle. 

The Americans have never won a World Cup qualifier at the Central American power in nine all-time meetings, posting an 0W-1D-8L. 

The only point earned by the U.S. came in the first meeting, a 1-1 draw in 1985. Costa Rica drew first blood in the 42nd minute as goalkeeper Arnie Mausser fumbled a cross and currenr Tico head coach Oscar Ramirez knocked in the rebound at the Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto in Alajuela. Minutes later, John Kerr, Jr. equalized. Days later, the USA dropped a 1-0 home decision to Costa Rica and was eliminated from 1986 World Cup contention. 

The Costa Ricans then went on to reel off eight consecutive wins, starting with a 2-1 result at the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa Ayma in 1996. Paulo Cesar Wanchope netted against goalkeeper Brad Friedel in the 40th minute and Wilmer Lopez made it 2-0 in the 84th, before Cobi Jones tallied in the dying seconds.

In the only time they scored twice at Costa Rica, the Americans went down to a 3-2 defeat despite goals by Eric Wynalda and Roy Lassiter in 1997. Ronald Gomez scored the game-winner in the 76th minute after goals by Hernan Medford and Mauricio Solis.

In perhaps the most controversial moment of the rivalry, Medford converted a stoppage-time penalty after Gregg Berhalter was called for a handball in the box in 2000.

Costa Rica posted two consecutive shutouts. In 2001, it won 2-0 as Rolando Fonseca struck twice in the second-half. Four years later, Carlos Hernandez struck for a brace and Wanchope tallied once in a 3-0 win. 

The last two results had eerie similarities: a 3-1 result, an early goal for the host and a penalty kick for the U.S. (Landon Donovan in 2009, Clint Dempsey in 2013).

In 2009 at Saprissa, Alvaro Saborio scored 79 seconds after kickoff, Celso Borges (13’) doubled the lead and Pablo Herrera (69’) hit for the third. In 2013 at Estadio Nacional, Johnny Acosta tallied two minutes in before Borges (10’) and Joel Campbell (75’) completed the scoreline.

 
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