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The Hexagonal

Beating Costa Rica: 10 Analysts Share Their Plans

One opinion is good; 10 are better. We asked U.S. soccer pundits to tell us what they want to see when the United States hosts Costa Rica on March 22. The consensus? A big, fat win.
BY Various Posted
March 15, 2013
1:27 PM
Here you go—10 taut takes. One hundred words isn't much to work with, but these U.S. soccer insiders jammed a lot of opinion and analysis into their respective paragraphs. To follow any of the fine folks on Twitter—and we strongly recommend that you do—just click on their names, in red.

Leander Schaerlaeckens
FoxSoccer.com columnist
The major malfunction in the loss against Honduras was a lack of experience, stability, and continuity in the back. In deploying a foursome of inexperienced defenders who had never played together, Klinsmann undermined an American virtue: good organization. By pulling Bocanegra he excavated a bundle of knowhow about playing in such environments from the foundation of the team. He’d be wise to re-insert it against Costa Rica. Yes, Boca hasn’t been playing regularly for his club. But with Tim Howard absent, the old captain’s calming composure will be paramount. With a solidified back line, everything else will fall into place.

Jason Saghini
As the bitter taste of Honduras lingers, I'm not looking for wholesale changes. I'm looking for responses from the players that left us disappointed. Call Honduras a learning experience and hope that Gonzalez and Cameron are quick learners. With Mexico looming, figuring out the CB pairing is top priority. On the offensive side, I worry about Altidore and Johnson on the field at the same time at altitude. Like with many forwards the term “work rate” is lost on those guys at times and heavy legs wont help it. Give me Gomez or give me… well, just give me Gomez.

Noah Davis
Deputy Editor, American Soccer Now
I would like to see a win. Seriously. That's it. Formation, width, attitude, etc. comes secondary. But, if we're asking for things, I'd like to see Jozy Altidore up top (and scoring), some camaraderie between Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, and third-central-midfielder-tbd (Maurice Edu?), and some lively effort out wide. Oh, and better partnership from Omar Gonzalez and Geoff Cameron. So I suppose I would like to see a bunch of things. But mostly just a win.

Phil Schoen Analyst, Be IN Sport
Before our broadcast of the Honduras match, I asked Cobi Jones what affects a player more—heat and humidity or altitude. Jones said altitude. If he's right, heaven help the US. The opening debacle makes the next games even more important, and both are at altitude. With the dreaded match in Mexico City looming, Juergen Klinsmann's squad faces Costa Rica in the Mile High City. I still believe the U.S. will qualify even if they stumble through the next three games, but they can help their manager and make their own lives easier if they just calm down and play.

Will Parchman
Soccer Writer
I'm utterly fascinated to see how the U.S. back line handles Costa Rica, which boasts four forward-seeking players (Arrieta, Ruiz, Saborio, and Campbell) capable of wrecking even sturdy defenses. The U.S. looked feeble and unsure at the back at times against Honduras, especially the shambolic effort on the second goal. Gathering width is important, and much of the team's success going forward is pinned there, but so many questions abound about defense that my eyes will be drawn there first.

John Godfrey Editor in Chief, American Soccer Now
Go wide, young men. And while you're at it, how about landing a few haymakers? The Yanks under-delivered in San Pedro Sula; now is the time to overdeliver against a quality Costa Rica squad. An offensive-minded 4-3-3 is in order, with Jozy/Clint/Herc up top and causing constant trouble. And is there any chance Geoff Cameron might play at fullback instead of centrally? He is an influential force at Stoke City, and it would be nice to see some of that for the U.S.

Jason Davis
Co-Host, The Best Soccer Show
What do we want out of the U.S. in its first home Hex qualifier against Costa Rica? Three points. Nothing else will do. How they manage those three points is of secondary concern, but we nevertheless worry ourselves with it. Klinsmann needs width. He needs Jozy Altidore getting proper service. He needs a defensive unit that works together, communicates well, and makes it easy on fill-in goalkeeper Brad Guzan. He needs consistency and headiness and a team that knows its one of the best in the region showing that to be the case. Most of all, he needs three points.

Jon Arnold
Contributing Editor, American Soccer Now
I want to see the referee blow the final whistle, scoop up the match ball, and hand it to Jozy Altidore. With Altidore in the best form of his life for his club, him starting and having good interchanges with the midfield would be a sight for sore U.S. fan eyes. Nothing could better communicate that Jurgen Klinsmann's club had finally broken through and found an attacking rhythm.

Daryl Grove
Brad Guzan looking confident, because he should. Omar Gonzalez and Geoff Cameron getting a second chance to make a first impression together, flanked by a healthy Fabian Johnson and the real Timmy Chandler (not that imposter who played against Honduras). I’m fine with three central midfielders, even if it’s the Williams-Bradley-Jones triumvirate, provided we see at least one proper winger out there—I don’t care whether it’s Brek Shea, DaMarcus Beasley or a surprised-looking Cobi Jones. Just any winger. Add a fired-up Jozy up front, with a healthy Deuce floating around behind him, and I like our chances.

Josh Deaver
ASN contributing writer
In order to come away with points in Denver, Fabian Johnson (if available) and Timothy Chandler will have to put in much better performances than they did against Honduras. The two German-American outside backs failed to get forward for a majority of the contest, leaving the U.S. attack desperately trying to force itself through the middle of the pitch—with limited success. For a squad lacking in width at the moment, their ability to link up with the midfield and assist on overlapping runs will be key for the Americans to get back on track against the Ticos.

OK, your turn: Tell us what you would like to see against Costa Rica on the 22nd. You can even ignore the 100-word limit if you like....

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