The play of Carolina Venegas (red jersey) has been instrumental to Costa Rica's success at the 2014 CONCACAF Women's Championship. (Photo: Mexsport)
PHILADELPHIA – While in the process of securing a first FIFA Women's World Cup berth, Costa Rica has earned praise for playing attractive soccer throughout its emergence during the 2014 CONCACAF Women's Championship.
The Ticas, though, might have to temper that back when they face the United States in the final on Sunday at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania.
In going unbeaten with a 3-1-0 record, the Costa Ricans have outscored their opponents, 10-3. The 4-0-0 Americans haven't surrendered a goal, while recording 15.
Head coach Garabet Avedissian, who noted that his team received a congratulatory phone call from Costa Rica President Luis Guillermo Solis, claims the key is to play "an intelligent game" against the No. 1 team in the FIFA rankings.
"That means we're respecting the rival in front of us," he said, adding that his team will be coming off a 120-minute encounter with Trinidad & Tobago less than 48 hours earlier. “You have to take into account that you are playing with the capacity of the team. It would be foolish, it would be even suicidal to go after the United States and attack in their third from the start. But that doesn't mean our strategy will be entirely defensive, either. We have individual players with good technical qualities, players that can possess the ball. We have a lot of speed."
Avedissian, 60, wouldn’t say how conservative his team would play.
U.S. head coach Jill Ellis, however, is fully aware her side will have to be well equipped in ways to combat that tactic.
"It’s not something you see very often,” she said. “It's something that we have to train, talk about and discuss what principles are important when you play a team that sits deep on you. As I said to our players, at times it can be frustrating when you play against teams with so many in the box.
“It's really about fine-tuning ourselves and getting better at certain things because the World Cup is going to have a lot of different teams in it now with expansion. We have to be prepared for it at that level as well."
The United States has beaten Costa Rica in all four of their previous CWC meetings by a combined score of 22-0