The United States’ place in the Gold Cup quarterfinals may have already been secured, but manager Jurgen Klinsmann is keen for his side to send out a message to Costa Rica in their final Group C match. A 4-1 win over Cuba on Saturday followed an opening 6-1 win over Belize, meaning that a draw will be enough to top the group and take on the third place team from either Group A or B in the quarterfinal.
A defeat, though, would see the U.S. face Group B winner Honduras. For Klinsmann, though, the match has significance beyond its implications for the last-eight matchups.
“It’s one of the great battles of Concacaf,” he told USSoccer.com. “They’ve developed a very strong team over the last few years. Beating them is very difficult and we know that. For us, it’s a really good benchmark because we want to show them who is number one in Concacaf after this tournament, and therefore we’re going to take them very seriously and we want to beat them. They have qualities, especially in their individual players that can make a difference.”
And Klinsmann has also suggested that he will field a strong lineup for the match at East Hartford, Connecticut’s Rentschler Field. “We don’t want to interrupt the rhythm that we have going now,” he explained. “There is enough time between this game and the quarterfinal to get everybody back and regenerated to perfect fitness. This game is like the final for Group C. This is a team that we’re going to fight for World Cup qualifying points in September, and we want to send them a signal.”
There will also be ample motivation on Costa Rica’s part, however. It is just four months since the now infamous last meeting between the two countries when in a blizzard in Colorado the U.S. secured a 1-0 victory in World Cup qualifying. It proved a turning point for the home side’s Hexagonal campaign, but for the Ticos it led to angry protests that the match was even allowed to be played. Like the U.S., Jorge Luis Pinto’s side is coming off the back of two straight wins; beating Cuba 3-0 before a 1-0 victory over Belize.
D: Parkhurst, Goodson, Orozco, Beasley
M: Corona, Beckerman, Holden, Torres
F: Donovan, Wondolowski
Costa Rica (probable)
D: Umana, Diaz, Meneses, Madrigal
M: Barrantes, Tejeda, Borges, Wallace
F: Arrieta, Saborio
Prediction: While they eventually won comfortably, the U.S. begun poorly against Cuba and Klinsmann will want to see an improvement from his side against Costa Rica. Brek Shea could well pay the price for his struggles last time out and is likely to be replaced by Jose Torres, while, after scoring two goals as a substitute, Chris Wondolowski may return in place of Herculez Gomez. However, with Costa Rica also far from impressive in narrowly beating Belize, a closely fought win could be on the cards for the U.S. to secure their eighth-straight victory.
USA 2-1 Costa Rica
Where to watch: The Gold Cup Group C match will kick-off at 8 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by the Fox Soccer Channel and UniMas. A live stream will be available on Fox Soccer 2Go.