by Paul Crabbe, Denver
CONCACAF allows for their member federations to schedule start times and location without their input, allowing them to give themselves Home Field Advantage as much as possible.
With that freedom, the USSF opted for their opening home fixture in the hexagonal phase of the 2014 qualifying campaign to be held at the home ground of the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado.
Their opponents for this opening home act are their tropical sea level foes of Costa Rica.
Despite March being the start of spring in the Northern Hemisphere: Colorado’s snowiest month on average is March. As of Tuesday, The Weather Channel is forecasting a 20% chance of precipitation and a high temperature of 42°.
Round 1 of the hex brought around some unexpected results for both sides involved in this fixture. The United States struck first blood against Honduras with a classy Dempsey finish before Los Catrachos answered back almost instantly and added a late strike 11 minutes away from Full Time to take the opener 2 goals to 1.
Los Ticos likewise came back strong in their opening hex match versus Panama.
After Los Canaleros put up 2 in the first 30 minutes, Costa Rica took one back late in the first half, then brought them level near the end of the second half to earn a single point for a 2-2 draw.
With nine matches to go and the US losing their Number 1 Tim Howard to a back injury for this match and for the next weeks matchup with arch-rivals Mexico, it’s not quite must win for the Yanks, but not taking any points here will make qualifying a longer and harder road than expected.
Costa Rica is also no minnow by CONCACAF standards either, as they qualified for two of the three previous world cups and were only 15 minutes away from breaking Uruguayan hearts in the CONCACAF/CONMEBOL playoff for a final spot in the 2010 World Cup.
With this year being the Centenary Celebration of the federation, the USMNT will debut their special 100th anniversary shirts with the original crest and every fan in attendance will receive a special scarf for this match.