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scouting report

The Run of the Place: Not Much Anger in Costa Rica

American Soccer Now Deputy Editor Noah Davis went looking for signs of anti-American vitriol on the streets of San Jose, Costa Rica. Here’s what he found.
BY Noah Davis Posted
September 04, 2013
7:34 PM
SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA—To be honest, I expected more.

Whenever I travel to a new city, I try to go running. I find it's the best way to understand the place. A tour at nine, err seven, OK six miles per hour.

So when I went for a jog after United States training on Wednesday, I anticipated Costa Rican flags waving, Ticos jerseys on display, and plenty of signs for Friday's match.

I saw almost none.

Granted, we are still more than two full days out from the game and I ran away from downtown rather than toward it. But still, it was a far cry from the scene in San Pedro Sula where the bicolor flapped in the wind and the vendors hawked jerseys on street corners.

For 40 minutes—10 of them through a downpour—I ran past fruit factories along a major road and I saw a total of two cars with small flags in the windows. (I also jogged over a bridge that featured a dramatic sinkhole in the middle.) A few drivers gave me strange looks, but more in the "silly gringo running in the rain" vein as opposed to the "F#*& you, American!" variety.

In made me wonder how much of the anger is a media construction and/or a strange, perhaps misguided plan by the Costa Rican federation to look tough and save face, and how much the people here actually feel. I suspect it's a little of both: less than the officials would like us to believe but more than I saw on my run.

Five hundred police officers will be on hand in and around Estadio Nacional before and during the match on Friday night.

On Wednesday, however, you would barely know there was a game to be played in 48 hours.

Near the end of my run, I noticed a small billboard with what looked like soccer players pictured. I got excited. Sadly, when I got closer, I noticed it depicted men and women in business suits running on a grass field. The English words "team building" featured prominently.

Garbage American business practices, high. Hatred of the U.S. soccer team, low. Disappointed, I took a left at the Kia Motors dealership and headed back to my hotel room. I turned on the television. Three ESPN talking heads sat yelling in Spanish about the match. I really was in the right place.

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