Q SPORTS – Bruce Arena wasn’t in charge the last time the United States faced Costa Rica, but he’s well aware of the final result.
A 4-0 road loss in San Jose last November in World Cup qualifying closed the door on the Jurgen Klinsmann era and ushered in Arena’s second tenure as head coach. In Gold Cup play, though, the Ticos (Costa Ricans) have never beaten the five-time champion, losing six of the seven encounters.
“They beat the U.S. by four goals in November,” Arena said. “Hopefully we can remember that.”
The rematch comes tonight, Saturday, at AT&T Stadium in the CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals.
“Last time we met Costa Rica beat us decisively, so we know we need to be well-prepared and we need to play well,” Arena said.
Arena added that his side “should be a little bit fresher” than any of the other Gold Cup semifinalists, which should give the Americans an advantage in Wednesday’s semifinal against Costa Rica.
Arena has been impressed with the Ticos’ ability to succeed in the Gold Cup despite suffering key injuries to players like Joel Campbell, Christian Gamboa, Bryan Oviedo and Johan Venegas.
Arena guided the U.S. to a 2-0 win over Costa Rica in the 2002 Gold Cup final.
“I think to their credit they have a set way they play regardless of the players who are not available,” Arena said. “The attack with this team is highlighted with [Bryan] Ruiz. Obviously, a very good player. [Marco] Ureña has done well as a striker. The backline is strong with [Giancarlo] Gonzalez and [Johnny] Acosta and [Kendall] Waston. They have experienced players in the midfield. Overall, they are a real good team.”
Costa Rica has been rock-solid defensively, conceding just once in four matches, while the United States has scored nine times.
Costa Rica excited for semifinal return
For the first time since 2009, the Ticos are in the CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals.
“It’s really exciting because we were waiting for this for a long time,” said Francisco Calvo, who plays in the U.S. with Minnesota United. “I think we deserve it a lot. Football is tough. Panama did well too, but we deserved more to win.”
The final result was due to an own-goal by Anibal Godoy off a David Guzman free kick lofted into the penalty area.
“Obviously, we would have loved to make a pretty game and a little bit more more fluid, but sometimes games are like this,” Costa Rica defender Kendall Waston said. “We take this as a final and sometimes finals, it doesn’t matter who plays well and who plays bad, the key is to win it.”
“It feels good, very good to make a kind of history with the national team,” said Costa Rica defender Kendall Waston who plays for the Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
“Now we’re just looking forward for the next game and trying to get into the finals. We take this as a final and sometimes in finals, it doesn’t matter who plays well and who plays bad, the key is to win it,” concluded Watson.
Game time tonight 8:00 pm Costa Rica time.