090513_uscr_practice_olson_usmnt_crc_practice_0311_dxo Jeremy Olson for American Soccer Now
Godfrey's Daily Rant

Here's What Will Happen Tonight in Costa Rica

Don't have beIN Sport? Don't worry. I know exactly how absolutely everything is going to play out tonight in Costa Rica. I've captured it all right here for you. Enjoy the game!
BY John Godfrey Posted
September 06, 2013
5:38 PM
A BOISTEROUS, NEAR-MANIACAL CROWD of Costa Rica fans will fill all 35,110 seats in Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica in La Sabana—and then some. The pleasing aroma of grilled meats will waft in from the parking lot. The fans will yell. They will taunt. They will look around for things to throw. There will be horses.

And as soon as the Americans take the long, long walk across the Olympic-sized track surrounding the immaculately groomed soccer field, they won’t even notice the screaming Ticos supporters. As far as the Americans are concerned, the environment will seem more like Seattle than Saprissa—only with natural grass.

Landon Donovan will start, of course.

Graham Zusi will not. The Sporting Kansas City midfielder did a fantastic job filling in for the American talisman, and the majestically coiffed right wing could very well be the guy in 2018 and 2022. But Donovan’s superhuman run of form will force Jurgen Klinsmann to start his pensive, sporadically reluctant, throughly rejuvenated 31-year-old superstar.

And this shrewd decision will pay dividends in the first 18 minutes of the match. Michael Bradley and Donovan won’t even bother to make eye contact—they’ll just know, like two follicle-challenged Vulcans post-mind-meld—and Bradley will release Donovan with a through-ball that sends the overmatched Ticos defense scrambling to recover.

Sprinting toward goal like a buoyant, carefree 20-year-old version of himself, Donovan will have options available on either side: Clint Dempsey on the left and Aron Johannsson on the right. The Ticos defenders know Dempsey all too well and will be more worried about the U.S. captain. Thinking and reacting and strategizing on the fly like Neo in one of those slow-motion Matrix battles, Donovan will process all of the information around him and edge toward Deuce, drawing the traffic in that direction. And then he will lay off a beautifully weighted pass to an onrushing Johannsson. It will look easy. It might even be easy….

And Aron Johannsson will score the first goal of the contest, his first goal in an American uniform, and the first of many to come for the Mobile, Alabama native.

At this point, you will be able to hear an aguja drop in Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica.

Also at this point, rain will start to fall. It will get heavier. A rabid U.S. soccer fan attending an East Coast college who is studying King Lear this semester will be reminded of the famous storm scene, and how it was an outward expression of Lear's inner turmoil, and get an idea for next week's homework assignment. Noting the elements at play, beIN Sport broadcasters will make references to the SnoClasico. All across America inebriated U.S. supporters will think about Jermaine Jones’ SnoFro.

And then Jones will surprise no one by drawing the first yellow card of the contest.

With Jones now suspended for the Sept. 10 match against Mexico, a restless, forward-thinking, second-screening American fan will go to a message board somewhere and start an argument that Geoff Cameron should take Jones’ spot in the No. 6 role against El Tri. This will in fact happen. And Cameron will play well against the archrival Mexicans. (The J.D. Salinger-like recluse will not be available for interviews in Columbus, however. Still, Cameron's strong showing in C-Bus will launch 1,371 debates about Jones’ value to the U.S. squad. Klinsmann will ignore them all and start Jones every chance he can.)

As always, there will be some good possession but poor finishing in the final third.

The Ticos will get a bit chippy in an attempt to slow down the visitors. When a particularly tough foul on Clint Dempsey goes unpunished, dozens of American Outlaws members will scream at the television sets hanging over the bars where they are watching the match.

Costa Rica winger Christian Bolanos will torch U.S. left back DaMarcus Beasley on three consecutive first-half possessions, prompting Klinsmann to have second thoughts about starting Run DMB on the back line.

On the third of these attacks, Beasley will give up a spot kick in a dangerous position just outside the penalty area.

The United States will look disorganized on the ensuing free kick, Alvaro Saborio will break free from his marker, and the Real Salt Lake striker will unleash a blistering header toward the back of the net.

As he always does, though, U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard will come up huge with that One Big Save, pushing Saborio’s strike aside and preserving the Americans 1-0 lead heading into intermission.

Alexi Lalas will Tweet something about set plays. He will be right. Again.

The Ticos will return from the break with redemption in mind. They will push forward, and Joel Campbell will generate a few half-chances that prompt roars….and subsequent groans from the crowd assembled on the far side of the Olympic-sized track that absolutely, positively makes the crowd a non-factor for the match.

The Ticos will scramble to regain possession every time they relinquish it, but a confident U.S. midfield will break their will with adroit one-touch passes. The Costa Ricans will visibly tire by the 65th minute.

And that’s precisely when Fabian Johnson bursts forward down the left wing, in space. He will look up, spot Dempsey making a near-post run, and deliver a clean pass.

Deuce chips it home. United States 2, Costa Rica 0. Dos a cero redux.

It's not over yet. Not really. But it's leaning that way.

70th minute: Klinsmann decides not to bring Altidore on. Get ready for Mexico, Jozy.

75th minute: Good possession for the U.S. No real threats. Yellow card management begins as Eddie Johnson replaces Dempsey.

80th minute: Fabian Johnson is replaced by Edgar Castillo, Beasley moves up to wing, and American supporters everywhere clutch their beers a bit tighter.

85th minute: Michael Bradley comes off. Cameron moves up. Orozco goes to right back. It's all over except for the whistle.

91st minute: Bryan Ruiz comes close off a long-range shot, but it sails over the crossbar. Howard drags his feet retrieving the ball. Michael Barrantes grabs it, runs it over to the edge of the six-yard box, and exhorts Howard to hurry up and kick. Howard, languid, smiles.

93rd minute: It's over. U.S 2, Costa Rica 0. Klinsmann is carried off the field like a pharaoh, and he doesn't even mind getting ploinked by a urine-filled balloon as he heads to the locker room, the press conference, and Columbus.

So....do you buy all of that? Let me know below.

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