The United States, coming off a 2-1 gut-punch of a loss against Mexico, will be looking to rebound tonight against Costa Rica. The loss to Mexico broke a couple USMNT traditions: the end of “dos a cero” might hurt fans in the trash talk department, but more importantly this was the first USA home loss in qualifying since 2001. Throw it in the pile of other unfortunate developments that happened under Jurgen Klinsmann with things like home losses to Jamaica and failing to make the Gold Cup final.
Tonight in San Jose, the USMNT will be hoping that 2016’s total disrespect for the concept of tradition will actually work in their favor. As much as we talk about winning at Estado Azteca as the impossible dream of American soccer, the fact is that the US has never managed a competitive win in Costa Rica either.
In fact, the 0-0 draw the USMNT managed in Mexico City during the last cycle means the trends are better in that venue than they are anywhere in Costa Rica. The last US result of any kind was a 1-1 draw on May 26, 1985; there are no wins to report. Since then, the results have been miserable:
April 16, 1989 - Loss (1-0)
December 1, 1996 - Loss (2-1)
March 23, 1997 - Loss (3-2)
July 23, 2000 - Loss (2-1)
September 5, 2001 - Loss (2-0)
October 8, 2005 - Loss (3-0)
June 3, 2009 - Loss (3-1)
September 6, 2013 - Loss (3-1)
That’s eight straight losses, a -13 goal difference, only six goals scored, and three straight visits in which Costa Rica put three goals on the board. Sounds hopeless, right? Well, not so fast. Costa Rica had two key players - oft-rumored MLS target Bryan Ruiz and center back Francisco Calvo - forced off due to injury in their 2-0 win at Trinidad & Tobago. Wingback Cristian Gamboa is suspended due to yellow card accumulation (CONCACAF, in their infinite wisdom, did not wipe the slate clean between rounds). And the last time these teams met with anything on the line, the US rolled to a 4-0 win at the Copa America Centenario.
Maybe in this bizarre year, those are signs that things are about to change.
Location: Estadio Nacional (San Jose, Costa Rica)
Kick-off time: 9:00pm Eastern
Available TV: BeIn Sports (English), NBC Universo (Spanish)
Available streaming: BeIn Sports Connect (English), NBC Universo app (Spanish), Telemundo Deportes En Vivo app (Spanish)
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.
Treat this as the gamethread for tonight’s game.