With all the players rested after a first good night's sleep in Washington, D.C., the USA hit the practice field this afternoon for its first session with the complete roster in our nation's capital. (Yesterday's practice consisted of just the non-starters from the Honduras match). On a perfect crisp fall day for soccer, the vibe around the team was energetic, jovial and loose. Of course, how much fun is the first training after you've qualified for a World Cup? Pretty fun. Still, there is work left to do and the U.S. team got at it preparing to face Costa Rica on Wednesday at RFK Stadium.
It will be a Costa Rican team that will be fighting, scratching and battling for a win as they have to assume Honduras will defeat El Salvador in San Salvador. That would mean that Costa Rica has to beat the USA to earn the third and final automatic berth from CONCACAF to the World Cup. A tie won't do it. A win for the Catrachos and a tie for the Ticos would mean that both teams have 16 points, but Honduras would have a better goal difference, sending them to South Africa. The USA, on the other hand, would love nothing more than to win, and win the group, meaning that with two teams going for a win, we could be in for a highly entertaining match.
A Few Big Men
On the importance of the match against Costa Rica, especially after falling 3-1 during the away match in this qualifying series:
"It's obviously important. We would certainly like to bring the balance back even and win the game because it wasn't a very nice feeling down in Saprissa. We remember that well, but it's not about revenge, it's about us going out and performing in front of our home crowd in our last game and making sure we do it in the right way."
On the USA sending out a strong side and going for the win in this final qualifying match:
"We have an obligation to finish first (in the group) for ourselves, and in a sportsmanship-type way, we have an obligation to the other teams within the group, to make sure we play a strong team. Although ourselves and Mexico have qualified, Costa Rica and Honduras also want to qualify and it's important that there is a level playing field and that everyone does things in a proper way. The proper thing to do is to play the strongest team we can and go for the win."
Robbie Rogers eyes the goal as he tries to get a step on his road roommate Jimmy Conrad