With Matchday 2 of the Hex on the horizon, the U.S. Men’s National Team had a intensive couple days of training in preparation for another tough test Tuesday night in Costa Rica.
After a strong second-half showing against Mexico last Friday, the U.S. will look to bring that attacking momentum into Tuesday’s match in San Jose.
“We know we have to be focused on that game. We want to win so we don’t start with two bad results in the Hex,” said veteran midfielder Jermaine Jones. “We have to be 100 percent, especially like how we showed in the second half against Mexico, where everybody is sharp, everybody is working for each other. That’s the only chance you have in Costa Rica.”
As the MNT tries to avoid two defeats to start the Final Round, there is a promising history of the team responding well in difficult moments. In fact, it’s happened twice this year already.
Back in March, following a 2-0 World Cup Qualifying loss in Guatemala, the MNT turned around four days later and beat Los Chapines 4-0 in Columbus, setting the side on the path to the Final Round of qualifying. This summer, the USA fell 2-0 to Colombia in the opening match of Copa America Centenario, only to bounce back and defeat this same Costa Rica side in a resounding 4-0 shutout.
Despite the imposing challenge Tuesday night, MNT captain Michael Bradley pointed reporters to the examples of the team’s resolve before training on Monday.
“I think we have a group of guys who have experience, who’ve been in situations like this before, who understand it’s not always perfect,” he said. “You go through a qualifying cycle and there’s going to be moments where you drop points, you’re going to let a result get away from you. You’ve got to understand that’s part of it, and the group has to pull together right in these moments. Again, I think we’ve always found a good way of doing that in the past and I have full confidence that we’ll do the same thing [on Tuesday].”
With an 0-8-1 all-time World Cup Qualifying record in Costa Rica, either a win or draw would be a positive result and certainly somewhat historic. In approaching a country where the U.S. has never won, Jones leans back on Mexico breaking the USA’s four-game winning streak against El Tri in Columbus and knows the same could happen Tuesday night.
“People talked about how Mexico had never won games in Columbus, so we know we can take something out of this game,” he said. “We know it’s not easy, the last results always showed it over there, but still it’s time to break that. Why not this time? We have a good roster, we have a good team, but we have to believe in it too.”