After opening the final round of qualifying against Mexico in Columbus, Ohio, this Wednesday, February 28, and traveling to San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on March 28, the United States will play its third of ten qualifying matches at Arrowhead Stadium. The top three finishers from the six-team group, which also includes Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago, will advance to the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan.
The United States finished first in its semifinal qualifying group, ahead of last-place Barbados and both Guatemala and Costa Rica, who finished tied with 10 points each. A playoff game played in Miami, Florida on January 6, 2001, gave Costa Rica a spot in the final qualifying round with a 5-2 victory.
The April 25 match will be the USA's first appearance in Kansas City since November 2, 1968, when Peter Millar's three goals led the USA to a 6-2 win over Bermuda in a World Cup qualifier. The test against Costa Rica will be the Men's National Team's first match at Arrowhead Stadium, which serves as the home field for Major League Soccer's Kansas City Wizards, who captured their first MLS Cup in 2000.
Costa Rica has proved to be one of the USA's most difficult qualifying opponents since the two first met on the road to the 1986 World Cup. The United States has lost only five qualifying matches since 1984, all to Costa Rica, and trails the Central American nation in the all-time series seven wins to eight, with four ties.
In their most recent meeting, on October 11, 2000, the United States and Costa Rica battled to a 0-0 draw in a key World Cup qualifying match for both teams in front of a pro-American crowd of 24,430 at sold out Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. The draw extended the United States home World Cup qualifying unbeaten streak to 16 games and continued the USA's run through 2002 World Cup qualifying.