9413_isi_howardtim_usmnt090305196 John Todd/isiphotos.com
Direct from Costa Rica

Shenanigans in San Jose: An ASN Hexagonal Preview

Are Costa Ricans still upset about the SnowClasico? It certainly seems that way. But the United States national team is taking it all in stride—even if they have to supply their own soccer balls.
BY Noah Davis Posted
September 04, 2013
3:31 PM
SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA—The United States men's national team had to resort to training on the soccer field of a milk company.

Admittedly, the Dos Pinos facility where the Americans also practiced during the 2005 U-17 CONCACAF Championship boasted a pristine field for the players and assorted ice cream treats for the gathered journalists, but the country hasn't exactly welcomed the Stars and Stripes with open arms.

The Costa Rican federation, still peeved about Denver's SnowClasico debacle, had provided the Americans with phone numbers for potential training facilities...but no one picked up. So the U.S. had to find its own site. The Costa Rican federation also failed to provide game balls as requested for Wednesday afternoon's training. The cab drivers are threatening to clog traffic to make the U.S. squad late on game-day.

So yes, gamesmanship is high.

The American players, however, seem nonplussed about the shenanigans.

"It's pretty much the same. What you get every time you come to one of these places," Omar Gonzalez said. At that exact moment, the Dos Pinos cow mascot blew an airhorn about a foot and a half behind Gonzalez's ear. It was loud.

He continued: "I think it's going to be a lot of fun. The fans are going to be crazy. This cow behind me is going to be crazy. [Laughed] I think it's going to be a good time."

Jurgen Klinsmann, speaking to members of the Costa Rican media that seem to be fanning the flames, tried to lower the level of rhetoric.

"We know it's going to be a very difficult game," he said in the calm tone of the confident manager he is. "Coach Pinto is doing everything to prepare his team. We do everything to prepare our team. It's going to be an exciting game. The people will watch a very good game."

Gonzalez, who started against Costa Rica in Denver and has appeared in matches in San Pedro Sula, Mexico City, and Kingston in 2013, is one of the younger Americans learning by fire to play on the road in CONCACAF. The Yanks—on a record 12-game winning streak—are prepared.

"We just have to be ready to deal with the conditions and to deal with everything. I think our team is ready to pursue that win," the Los Angeles Galaxy center back said.

Michael Bradley, on the other hand, has been here before. He understands the gamesmanship, has seen it before, and knows the team can come through just fine.

"As in any qualifier, we have to know how to manage the game in the right moments," he said. "We have to be sharp ourselves and play a good match. But when you come on the road in CONCACAF, you have to know how to manage the right moments and I think we have the experience to do that."

In the distance, the Dos Pinos cow danced.

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