The U.S. Men's National Team will head to Red Bull Arena for its all-important World Cup Qualifying clash against Costa Rica on Friday, Sept. 1. Here are five memorable matches the MNT has played against Los Ticos.
USA 1, Costa Rica 0
April 25, 2001
2002 FIFA World Cup Qualifying - Final Round
Arrowhead Stadium; Kansas City, Mo.
Having begun the Final Round of qualifying for the 2002 FIFA World Cup with consecutive wins at home against Mexico and away to Honduras, the U.S. turned its sights on exacting some revenge against Costa Rica following the Semifinal Round meeting in San Jose the previous year. Tied 1-1 late with Los Ticos on July 23, 2000, center back Gregg Berhalter headed a cross from the right out for a corner kick, only to be whistled for a handball in the box that resulted in Costa Rica’s game-winning penalty kick.
Nine months later, the U.S. attack hammered Costa Rica and nearly pulled ahead when Josh Wolff’s chip over Erick Lonnis was cleared off the line by Reynaldo Parks. The handball pendulum would then swing in the USA’s favor, first in the 24th minute when a ball over the top for Paulo Wanchope was only partially cleared by center back Carlos Llamosa before hitting the arm of Jeff Agoos. With Wanchope ready to run onto the ball, Agoos’ arm infraction was deemed unintentional by referee Jorge Luis Larrionda, who allowed play to continue. Had it been whistled, the U.S. would have been reduced to 10 men for the rest of the match.
Continuing to look for the game’s lone goal, the home side gained another advantage when Agoos’ cross following a cleared corner kick found Clint Mathis, who handled the ball into the path of Josh Wolff before the then-Chicago Fire striker swept home the game-winner in the 70th minute.
As they say, in soccer sometimes things even out.
WATCH: USA Defeats Costa Rica 1-0 in 2002 FIFA World Cup Qualifying
USA 2, Costa Rica 0
February 2, 2002
2002 CONCACAF Gold Cup Final
The Rose Bowl; Pasadena, Calif.
Less than a year after that game in Kansas City, two of the players that benefited from the two no-calls scored to give the USA a 2-0 win against Costa Rica in the 2002 CONCACAF Gold Cup Final.
In the first half, Wolff broke through Los Ticos back line to poke past Erick Lonnis in the 37th minute. Just after the hour mark, Jeff Agoos scored the best goal of his international career, curling a beautiful free kick from 25 yards out into the top right corner to ice the win, giving the USA its second Gold Cup title and first since 1991.
WATCH: Wolff, Agoos Pace U.S. to Second CONCACAF Gold Cup Title
USA 3, Costa Rica 0
June 4, 2005
2006 FIFA World Cup Qualifying – Final Round
Rice Eccles Stadium; Salt Lake City, Utah
The U.S. MNT chose new territory for its Final Round home qualifier against Costa Rica for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Building off the great support Real Salt Lake received in its inaugural season, the MNT enjoyed an amazing atmosphere at Rice Eccles Stadium and used goals from Landon Donovan on both sides of halftime to run out to a 2-0 lead. Brian McBride followed it up with an 87th minute goal to ice the match, while Kasey Keller made two spectacular saves to hold on to the clean sheet.
U.S. MNT goalkeeper Kasey Keller makes an acrobatic save against Costa Rica to help the USA to a 3-0 World Cup Qualifying win vs. Los Ticos in 2005.
USA 1, Costa Rica 0
March 22, 2013
2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying – Final Round
Dick’s Sporting Goods Park; Commerce City, Colo.
The one that U.S. fans love to remember most and Costa Rica supporters would rather forget. Blizzard conditions smothered the greater Denver area just in time for kickoff of the pivotal World Cup Qualifier, not allowing for much in the way of soccer to be played.
Still, the U.S. jumped ahead in the 16th minute when Jozy Altidore’s shot from the top of the area deflected off a Costa Rican defender and straight into the path of Clint Dempsey where he poked up home the game’s only goal. As the snow piled up, the stadium grounds crew took advantage of stoppages to ensure that the lines on the field remained visible to keep the game going, with U.S. defender Geoff Cameron famously coming to the aid of one staffer who needed help getting his shovel across the field.
The game was halted momentarily in the 54th minute when the referee crew discussed whether to continue, but ultimately the decision was taken to finish the match. Costa Rica had no answer and the U.S. MNT gained an instant classic of a match, dubbed “Snowclasico” in the process.
WATCH: USA Fights Through Blizzard to Defeat Costa Rica 1-0 in World Cup Qualifying
USA 4, Costa Rica 0
June 7, 2016
2016 Copa America Centenario – Group Stage
Soldier Field; Chicago, Ill.
Coming off a disappointing 2-0 defeat to third-ranked Colombia in the opening match of the 2016 Copa America Centenario, the U.S. stared elimination in the face in their second group game. Playing just steps away from U.S. Soccer headquarters at Chicago’s Soldier Field, the MNT took an early lead through Clint Dempsey’s eighth-minute penalty kick which also marked the veteran forward’s 50th international goal.
From there, Jermaine Jones and Bobby Wood added highlight reel strikes from outside the box to take the USA into halftime up 3-0, before Graham Zusi’s strong individual effort capped the scoring in the 87th minute. The 4-0 result was the USA’s highest margin of victory against Costa Rica and pushed the team on to a fourth-place finish in the tournament.
WATCH: USA Defeats Costa Rica 4-0 in Copa America CentenarioRead more
CHICAGO (July 6, 2017) – U.S. Soccer has selected Red Bull Arena to host the FIFA World Cup Qualifier between the United States and Costa Rica, presented by Volpi Foods, on Sept. 1 in Harrison, New Jersey.
Matchday 7 and the USA’s penultimate home game in the Final Round will be broadcast on the ESPN and Univision Networks (6:30 p.m. ET start, with pregame coverage on Univision Networks at 6 p.m. ET). Fans can also follow the game live on Twitter at @ussoccer and @ussoccer_esp, and Facebook.
After a 2-0 win at home against Trinidad & Tobago and a massive point on the road against rivals Mexico, the United States is now 2-0-2 in World Cup Qualifying since Bruce Arena took over as head coach and has climbed into third place in the table of the six-team Final Round group, also known as the Hex. A victory at home against Costa Rica would be a huge step closer to qualifying for Russia, so the MNT is on a mission to #Get3 points at home once again. Following that match, the United States heads to San Pedro Sula to face Honduras on Sept. 5 at the Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano.
“This is going to be a critical game for us against one of the toughest opponents in CONCACAF,” Arena said. “Red Bull Arena is among the finest soccer facilities in the country, and we look forward to having outstanding support.”
Red Bull Arena is hosting a World Cup Qualifier for the first time. Coincidentally, the USA’s last visit to the venue also involved a matchup against Costa Rica, a 1-0 friendly defeat on Oct. 13, 2015.
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The U.S. Men’s National Team has played in the last seven World Cups – one of only six nations in the world to accomplish that feat – and some people naturally assume that every four years the U.S. is just penciled into the bracket. Not so!
In fact, qualifying for the FIFA World Cup out of CONCACAF is a marathon. Since the current qualifying format was adopted for the 1998 tournament, the U.S. has had to play 16-18 matches spanning two years in order to book its place in the FIFA World Cup.
In the case of the current cycle, the MNT began its quest to qualify for Russia 2018 when it started play in CONCACAF’s Semifinal Round in November 2015. Having finished on top of a group that also featured Trinidad & Tobago, Guatemala and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the U.S. now finds itself in the CONCACAF's Final Round of World Cup Qualifying.
The six-team group, nicknamed “The Hex” (short for Hexagonal), pits the top two teams from each of CONCACAF’s three semifinal groups – in this case, Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Trinidad & Tobago and USA -- in a home-and-away mini-league which began in November 2016 and concludes in October 2017. At the end of the 10-game schedule, the top three teams in The Hex automatically qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Meanwhile, the fourth-place team from CONCACAF will go into an intercontinental playoff with the fifth-place finisher from the Asian Football Confederation’s own qualifying tournament. The winner over two games will be 32nd and final entrant into the World Cup.
Got all that?
Here’s a breakdown of the 10-game schedule the MNT will have to navigate to qualify for its eighth consecutive FIFA World Cup, with a little history added in.
USA 1, Mexico 2 - Nov. 11, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio
Having defeated Mexico 2-0 in each of its previous four Final Round matches played in Columbus, Ohio, the MNT went back to MAPFRE Stadium in November, where they fell 2-1 to a talented Mexico side.
A deflected effort from Miguel Layun gave Mexico a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute, before the U.S. suffered another setback when goalkeeper Tim Howard suffered a fractured right adductor while taking a routine goal kick and had to leave the match in the 40th minute. After halftime, the U.S. bounced back through Bobby Wood's 49th minute strike and had chances to push ahead that came up empty. Just as it looked like both teams would settle for a 1-1 draw, Mexico captain Rafael Marquez headed home an 89th minute corner kick from Layun to give El Trí all three points.
WATCH: U.S. Falls 2-1 to Mexico in November
Costa Rica 4, USA 0 - Nov. 15, 2016 in San Jose, Costa Rica
Four days after falling to Mexico, the U.S. traveled to Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica for a match against Los Ticos. The MNT's success rate in Costa Rica had never been great and while the U.S. nearly went into halftime tied 0-0, but Johan Venegas pushed the home side ahead in the 44th minute. Costa Rica then added strikes from Cristian Bolańos and a brace from Joel Campbell to run out 4-0 winners.
In the days following the match, Jurgen Klinsmann was replaced by former MNT head coach Bruce Arena, who is charged with righting the ship for the U.S. to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
USA vs. Honduras - March 24, 2017
With just eight previous qualifying meetings, there’s much less history with Honduras than some of the MNT’s other Hex opponents. That said, Honduras does have its place in the USA’s World Cup Qualifying history thanks to its 3-2 victory in 2001 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. That result ended the MNT’s then record 19-match home unbeaten streak in qualifying and also stands as the USA’s last home qualifying defeat. The team will enter Final Round qualifying riding a 30-match home unbeaten run dating back to that 2001 loss.
WATCH: Honduras hands the U.S. its first home World Cup Qualifying loss since 1985All-Time WCQ Record vs. Honduras: 5-2-1
All-Time Home WCQ Record vs. Honduras: 2-1-0
Panama vs. USA - March 28, 2017
Having only first met Panama during qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, the U.S. has become better acquainted with Los Canaleros in recent years. While qualifying visits to Central America are far from easy, the MNT has fared reasonably well in Panama, going 2-0-1 in its three contests at Estadio Rommel Fernandez. The most recent meeting will be fresh on the minds of Panama after the U.S. eliminated them from contention for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in heart-breaking fashion. With only a few ticks remaining on the clock and Panama’s dream of reaching its first World Cup moments from being realized, goals by Graham Zusi and Aron Johannsson elevated the MNT to a 3-2 win on Oct. 15, 2013. Adding a bit of irony, the USA’s comeback win handed its nemesis Mexico a lifeline in their bid to advance to Brazil.
WATCH: U.S. eliminates Panama from World Cup contention in 2013
All-Time WCQ Record vs. Panama: 5-0-1
All-Time Away WCQ Records at Panama: 2-0-1
USA vs. Trinidad & Tobago - June 7-8, 2017
The U.S. will be best acquainted with Trinidad & Tobago after facing the Soca Warriors twice in the semifinal round. While T&T has offered tough challenges over the years, the MNT has dominated the series overall. The 4-0 win in September in Jacksonville moved the USA’s all-time home World Cup Qualifying record to 8-0-1 against the Caribbean nation. The matchup will bring back fond memories for Jozy Altidore, who in the 2008 edition of the series became the youngest player in history to score a hat trick for the U.S. Men’s National Team, tallying all three goals in the dominating 3-0 victory on April 1, 2009, in Nashville, Tenn.
WATCH: Kljestan, Altidore, Arriola lead MNT past T&T in September
All-Time WCQ Record vs. Trinidad & Tobago: 12-1-3
All-Time Home WCQ Record vs. Trinidad & Tobago: 8-0-1
Mexico vs. USA - June 11-12, 2017
The second half of the cycle begins with the U.S. visiting Mexico and very likely the daunting Estadio Azteca. The heat and humidity of Mexico City in June combined with the 7,380 feet of altitude will certainly be payback for the potentially cold temperatures of Columbus in November. While the more than 100,000 fans packed into the arena create an even greater home-field advantage, the U.S. has put chinks in the armor in recent years. Having first earned a 0-0 World Cup Qualifying draw there in 1997, the MNT collected its first win against Mexico on their own soil in a 1-0 friendly win in 2012, and went on to secure a point from a 0-0 draw in 2013 during final round qualifying.
WATCH: U.S. earns crucial 0-0 draw at Estadio Azteca in 2013
All-Time WCQ Record vs. Mexico: 6-16-6
All-Time Away WCQ Record at Mexico: 0-13-2
USA vs. Costa Rica - September 1, 2017
Just as the United States has found little qualifying success in Costa Rica, so the story goes for Los Ticos on U.S. soil, where the MNT holds a 6-1-2 all-time advantage. Costa Rica’s last two qualifying visits have provided memorable moments. In 2009, Jonathan Bornstein’s game-tying goal in the 95th minute not only ensured the U.S. remained unbeaten in home World Cup Qualifying, but also helped Honduras leapfrog Costa Rica for CONCACAF’s third World Cup Qualifying place for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
In March 2013, the U.S. earned a 1-0 home win against Costa Rica in a match dubbed the “Snowclasico” for its blustery winter conditions at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo. As field conditions worsened during the match, referee Joel Aguilar halted the game in the 55th minute to allow the stadium grounds crew to clear the lines on the field of snow. A gutsy performance saw the U.S. win 1-0 behind a first-half goal from Clint Dempsey as Costa Rica departed Colorado with jittery teeth and a bitter taste in their mouth.
WATCH: MNT grinds it out in the snow vs. Costa Rica
U.S. All-Time WCQ Record vs. Costa Rica: 6-10-3
U.S. All-Time Home WCQ Record vs. Costa Rica: 6-1-2
Honduras vs. USA - September 5, 2017
Interestingly, Honduras is the only Hex opponent that the U.S. has won against on the road more times than they have at home. The series dates back to a 1-0 victory in San Pedro Sula in 1965 and has seen the U.S. earn two more wins at Estadio Olimpico – 2-1 in 2001 and a 3-2 result in 2009 in a game that feature two goals from Conor Casey and a Landon Donovan free – as well as a late penalty miss by Honduran striker Carlos Pavon - which clinched a berth for the United States at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Still, the U.S. will return looking to avenge its last meeting there. In the blistering heat of San Pedro Sula – matched only by the intensity of their fans both inside and outside the stadium – the United States suffered a 2-1 defeat to open the final round of qualifying in 2013.
WATCH: U.S. earns 2010 World Cup berth in San Pedro Sula
All-Time WCQ Record vs. Honduras: 5-2-1
U.S. All-Time Away WCQ Records at Honduras: 3-1-1
October 6, 2017 - USA vs. Panama
Historically speaking, the MNT will still be in need of points to qualify when they host Los Canaleros on Matchday 9. The U.S. has won all three of its previous home World Cup Qualifying matches against Panama, outscoring the Central American side 10-0 in process. Nonetheless, the USA must remain vigilant: Panama has earned two consecutive draws on U.S. soil and won the Third Place match of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup in penalties. The 2004 meeting in qualifying added to the U.S. history books when after entering in the 65th minute, Eddie Johnson ripped off three straight goals to become the first player in MNT history to record a hat trick as a substitute. The U.S. ended with a 6-0 win.
WATCH: U.S. sees off Panama during 2013 Hex in Seattle
All-Time WCQ Record vs. Panama: 5-0-1
All-Time Home WCQ Record vs. Panama: 3-0-0
October 10, 2017 - Trinidad & Tobago vs. USA
In 1989, the MNT visited Trinidad & Tobago on the final day of World Cup Qualifying knowing that only a win would take the USA to its first World Cup since 1950. On that day, the task of winning away in Port of Spain was no foregone conclusion, and Paul Caligiuri’s “shot heard ‘around the world’ launched the modern era of U.S. Soccer. Flash forward almost 30 years, and anything less than three points there hasn’t met expectations. The MNT learned that lesson last November following a 0-0 draw in its semifinal round match at Hasely Crawford Stadium. With competition in CONCACAF at its fiercest, the U.S. could very well enter the final game of the Hex needing a result to book passage to Russia.
WATCH: Paul Caligiuri sends USA to first World Cup since 1950
All-Time WCQ Record vs. Trinidad & Tobago: 12-1-3
All-Time Away WCQ Record at Trinidad & Tobago: 4-1-2