Each requiring a victory to stay in the running for one of Group A’s top two spots, the United States and Costa Rica will battle for their first victories of the 2016 Copa American Centenario Tuesday night at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Colombia currently leads Group A after pummeling the U.S. 2-0 in the tournament opener, while Costa Rica forced a scoreless result with Paraguay. That gives the Colombians an early two-plus goal differential on everyone else in the group, likely leading desperate measures and play on all sides.
For the Americans, another loss would spell disaster after hopes of a deep run were high for Jurgen Klinsmann’s side. The U.S. has made it out of the group stage just once, way back in 1995, and ever since they’ve opted not to enter after finishing 12th in 2007.
Forward Clint Dempsey admitted to reporters on Sunday that the U.S. must perform.
"It's a must-win situation, backs against the wall,” Dempsey said. "It's going to be a difficult game. They know they got a result that puts them in position to get out of the group.
"And for us, it's a must-win. So it's going to be a difficult challenge. They've shown in major competitions that they can perform well, like they did last World Cup. We're on home soil. We got to bring it."
The U.S. saw their six-match win streak come to a screeching halt despite winning the possession battle 53-47 over the Colombians, and spoiled a five-save effort from goalie Brad Guzan.
Costa Rica, meanwhile, was booked three times against Paraguay compared to only four shots on goal. The most serious booking was handed to defender Kendall Watson, who earned a red card for a rough foul in the 77th minute.
Watson is now suspended for one game, and that’s left manager Oscar Ramirez’s side fretting over how the U.S. might react from such a poor opener.
"The game is a classic CONCACAF clash. It is defining for the group, and we have the full intention to seek the three points," Ramirez told reporters. "We are prepared to face the best the United States and we cannot be complacent."
Costa Rica’s defeated the U.S. in their last two meetings, outscoring the Yanks 4-1.
Kickoff Time: 8 p.m. EDT
TV Channel: Fox Sports 1, Univision, UniMás, Univision Deportes