Orange Slices: USA vs. Costa Rica

Orange Slices! Yanks vs. Ticos

The triumphant return! Orange Slices is our game day, catch-all post that we update during the day before and day of the match.

It’s the must-win game. A game coming off some high drama in the US sports media. It’s the game where the most influential player already has been Magic Spray.

It’s US vs. Costa Rica A team the US hasn’t beat since 2005 and who is hardest to peg in terms of what their going to bring game in and game out due to their tinkering coach Jorge Luis Pinto and the transitional stage it’s in.


Date Matchup Time Venue TV
March 22, 2013 U.S. Men vs. Costa Rica * 8 p.m. MT Dick’s Sporting Goods Park
Commerce City, Colo.
ESPN, WatchESPN, UniMas

TSG’s Official USA vs. Costa Rica Preview: Defeato The Tico Incognito


Around the web:

Reading material: (lots of good stuff on this one.)

Will Beasley make a return at LB (hopefully not, read on below....)

Will Beasley make a return at LB (hopefully not, read on below….)

» Worth linking to yet again. Brian Straus’s bombshell expose on the state of the US national team from more than 22 (anonymous) sources.

» Alexi Lalas on Twitter called his quotes in this piece, “Not my finest hour and back when I thought I knew it all. But I’ll own it.”

» ESPN’s Doug McIntyre sits with Bruce Arena and chats Klinsmann and US Soccer.

» ESPN’s rising soccer writer Rog Bennet takes us through one lens of US Soccer history.

» MLS Soccer has a pretty neat video preview of today’s game.

» Soccer Over There vacuums up all remaining tidbits that you need to be prepared..


American Outlaws members gather here.

Weather forecast:

Game time temps of just above freezing, but don’t issue the orange ball alert just yet.

Surf forecast:

C’mon brother. It’s all snowboards and snowbunnies in Colorado.

Guess again.

Colorado River, coming at you!


USA v. Costa Rica WCQ History:

» In World Cup Qualifying against Costa Rica, the USA is in the midst of a seven-game home unbeaten streak (5-0-2) and is 5-1-2 overall in home qualifying matches against Costa Rica.

» The USA’s only home blemish was a 1-0 loss on May 31, 1985, in Torrance, Calif., in what was the first home qualifying meeting between the two sides. The game’s lone goal was scored by Costa Rica’s Evaristo Coronado.

» The U.S. is 5-8-3 all-time in World Cup Qualifying against Costa Rica.

The archives:

How can you not show a clip that has both McBride & Lassiter scoring?!


TSG Commentary from during week:

My time!

My time!

» The US goes into this match with most uncertainty around the starting line-up in quite some time. Incredulously enough Brad Guzan is one of the more safe predictions about starting that you can make.

»» The recall of Brad Davis to squad (to add to potential LMs Brek Shea and DaMarcus Beasley) along with the presence of Graham Zusi and Sacha Kljestan along with the possibilities of Eddie Johnson and Herculez Gomez suggest that you may be a 4-4-1-1 or even 4-4-2 from the US amazingly enough. Our preview alluded to Klinsmann dropping that hint in a podcast segment that the US could move back to a double pivot of yesteryear.

That said, you still have both Maurice Edu and Kyle Beckerman in camp, both capable of playing the #6 role.

»»The backline of course is up in the air. Lots of media pushing that DaMarcus Beasley should start at leftback. While it’s worse if Beasley starts at LM (ask Edgar Castillo about Beasley providing, or rather not providing, cover in the USA-Mexico friendly back last year), Beasley at RB is a very dangerous proposition given Beasley’s role (MF) in a league that doesn’t favor defense and given that Brian Ruiz is liable to wander over to his area.

Beasley’s selection at LB is made even worse if Geoff Cameron is not at left centerback as Beasley will be playing an unfamiliar role with an unfamiliar partner next to him.

The question of course remains as to where Geoff Cameron will play and more evidence is suggesting as such. A disclaimer/addendum to our preview, if you think about the most logical backline, it’s like Cameron – Gonzalez – Besler- Morrow. All have played adjacent to one another in either the Canada friendly or the Honduras friendly. The one disclaimer I would put is on Edu next to Gonzalez as a distributor.

As much I think moving Cameron out of the centerback role, I’ve convinced myself that this is a very real possibility.

» A danger spot–should the US not play a 4-man midfield–is at the top of the US’s left flank defensive third. Klinsmann and Martin Vasquez by and large used Jermaine Jones to play trackback defense over that flank. That’s a dangerous proposition in this one as–especially if it is not Morrow out there–Bolanos–Costa Rica’s RFW is not fond of tracking back on defense leaving him high on that side. If he stays high and Ruiz provides support…and Jermaine Jones is an upfield position that’s a recipe for a pocket of a potentially very dangerous counter area.

More on Costa Rica: (Alonzo Solano of ALZ Deportes will drop by later today with a few more bullets on Costa Rica).

According to Solano, the expectation of Coach Pinto’s tactics are:

» Extremely defensive, looking for the draw on the road.

» A focus on working of Ruiz and Saborio.

» Also, there is a notion that Costa Rica may forego the 4-3-3 it used against Panama in February and set up in a very defensive and narrow 5-3-2 (5-2-1-2). The set-up would allow the Ticos to clog their defensive third and spring very vertical counterattacks . It’s a system that they used–albeit with difference actors–against Mexico as shown below. If this is the case, Joel Campbell will be sacrificed for MLS favorite Roy Miller in the back.

Costa Rica's 5-2-1-2 vs. Mexico, September 2012.

Costa Rica’s 5-2-1-2 vs. Mexico, September 2012.

Addendum: How To Think About Forecasting A Line-up.

TSG is of course no experts on forecasting line-up, though I dare say–though not this time–we are fairly accurate.

Here are some things to consider:

» Is there anything that history tells us? Yes. Klinsmann’s teams tend to be weighted more towards attacking players at home (Brazil friendly, Jamaica, Gautemala). Don’t expect a triumvirate of Edu, Bradley, Jones in midfield (as, gulp, our preview originally showcased).

» Will the US play highline looking to maintain possession and seal Costa Rica in their own end? If you believe this, then you have to consider that one of the US centerbacks likely has wheels — that would be  Maurice Edu perhaps or Geoff Cameron. You also might consider in this space who the holder is–but likely you would need a holding midfielder be it primarily Edu again or Kyle Beckerman

» Will the US sit back and defend? In that case you might consider a centerback pairing of two tall stout players like Omar Gonzalez and Clarence Goodson. In this case, you would likely dare Costa Rica to cross into the box because of your US Tall Trees. Note, I’ve seen a number of lineup suggestions and schematics out there that show Clarence Goodson and Omar Gonzalez playing a highline–if the US does this I would be surprised and obviously clearly not in favor of it.

» Do you feel that your centerbacks will need to manage possession and create the distribution out of the back? In this case again, it’s hard to imagine a  Goodson and Gonzalez pairing.

» Whether it’s balanced or unbalanced how will the US manage their wing play? If you think it’s an overlapping fullback or fullbacks in general that will provide width, then you are likely looking at ones with better handles BUT ALSO you would have to consider that MF ahead of them plays inverted–that is if you feel Justin Morrow is going to overlap a lot, you probably want to put Graham Zusi on his side who will cut in and open space on his favored right foot rather than DaMarcus Beasley.

» Continuing on the overlapping wing play theme, then the predisposition might be for more for a 4-3-3 as Klinsmann has played and less a 4-4-2.

» Do you expect the US to play on the counter? Well then you would likely consider 2 FWDS or at the very left a winger pressed up high (we call that the “swing forward” here at TSG) like an Eddie Johnson.

» Are you worried about a player’s fitness like Clint Dempsey? Well then you’re probably not going to want to play him wide in a 4-4-2 where we have to do a lot of tracking back after incutting in the attack.

[More coming…]

44 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Alex Song on 2013/03/22 at 1:24 AM

    Normally I’d say it’s just Costa Rica and we should brush them aside without too much trouble, but I’d be lying if I said I was optimistic in this case. The timing of this match is bad for us. With Johnson, Landon, a healthy right back, and an in-form Clint, we’d probably smoke these guys. With none of those things, I’m not so sure.

    Costa Rica has just enough talent to punish you. Ruiz is capable of great individual moments and Campbell is fast, athletic, and skilled. As an Arsenal fan, I can tell you that you can’t let him cut onto his left foot for a deep curling shot. That seems to be the only goal he ever scores. When you look at his highlights for CR U23 team, you see that he’s a lot more versatile than that though. Only consolation for us is that he’s still basically a kid. Next cycle he should be a real headache. Now he’s still in growing pains mode.

    Anyhow, we’ve gotta play with tenacity and grind it out. We have some real quality in Bradley, Jozy, and Dempsey. Eddie Johnson was a live wire against Honduras. What does that mean? JK will probably roll out Kljestan, Gomez, and Zusi as his front three with seven d-mids behind them. Right about now I’m wishing for some Bob ball…


  2. Posted by CJ on 2013/03/22 at 5:42 AM

    It seems that Bruce agrees with some of the born-on-American-soil, in the USA, sentiment that we’ve discussed on here. I’m glad as an avid, albeit, casual fan to hear that from the former National Team Coach.
    It was also highlighted in the anonymous quotes about how the German born Americans don’t have the same commitment. I said it before and I’ll say it again, unless you bleed, breathe, and eat USA, how dare you represent us? Just because you play good ball? That’s kind of a sell out.
    I’m all for a citizen no matter their place of birth having access to the process but, their mentality should have more weight than their skill set (Timothy Chandler anyone?).
    Sorry for the detraction from the game day post. It just seems relevant with all the current coverage. Go USA!


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/03/22 at 5:50 AM

      I think–and maybe I’ll right a column on this–the best way to think about it is as “a factor”

      The US wants to play with “style” — okay, let’s call that a factor.

      “Fitness” is a factor too but it’s been castrated by the style the US plays too often.

      “Desire” — (in that way, I’m avoiding any notion of who are or are not Americans) is another factor.
      Do I think that Chandler will start next Saturday for Nurnberg? I do. Does that bother me? It does.
      Does it have anything to do with him being German-American? No.


    • Posted by Eric on 2013/03/22 at 6:08 AM

      I’m trying to phrase all this properly but I get annoyed with the implication that the “German Americans” might not be as committed as the born in the US players. I find it ridiculous that we think that we can lump them all into one group and suddenly say they’re not as committed to the US as the other players.

      When has Jones ever given doubt about his commitment to the US? Same for Boyd? Williams or even Johnson? If you say that they don’t perform as well this the Nats as the do for their club team (Jones for example) then why is Jozy not getting the same questions about his commitment? What I’m saying is that we can’t equate performance as being representative of desire nor can we assume that just because someone wasn’t born in the US, that they lack any of the same passion for the team that someone born in the US does. The two aren’t related and in my opinion should be judged on an individual basis.

      As for Chandler, I have no idea what to think. He’s cap-tied so I don’t worry about the Germany issue anymore but I do wonder if his club team has more influence over him that we think. Take this injury for example, how much is Chandler being hurt and how much is his club saying “We don’t want you to travel that far because we’re the one paying your salary.” If you want to question Chandler’s passion for the team, that’s fine because he’s given reasons to have some doubt. That said, you can find guys born in the US with the same issues. Hell, I feel you could make a compelling argument about Landon Donovan for the past year (yes, I know it seems obvious with him stepping away during this time).

      Sorry if this seems rambling, I’m not fully awake yet.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2013/03/22 at 7:20 AM

      I know I will probably get slaughtered, but the German-American thing is bogus. I don’t want to hear the crap about questioning his “American-ness” because their fathers served in the military. You know what? So did Lewis Holtby’s. You know why I don’t want him playing for England? Because I bet when he was a child growing up in Germany, he used to live and breath his Bundesliga club, pretending to be Ballack or whoever when playing with his mates. Or huddled around the TV when Die Mannschaft were on, with family and friends, getting anxious, proud when hearing the Deutschlandlied.

      We all know the “German-Americans” would have chosen to represent Germany had they been good enough. Don’t turn this into some chest beating patriotic exercise because their fathers served America, and you’re looking to justify it.


      • Posted by mbw on 2013/03/22 at 7:44 AM

        All I know is that those guys are American citizens, and that some of them would swim across the Atlantic to represent the US….


      • Posted by chris on 2013/03/22 at 7:56 AM

        1. Fortunately you don’t make the rules regarding citizenship and eligibility. 2. You have an extremely vivid imagination regarding Holtby. You’ve put some thought in to that fantasy. 3. Despite your claim, you actually don’t know that the German-Americans would have chosen Germany, do you? It would be contrary to everything they’ve stated.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2013/03/22 at 8:47 AM

          No. Lewis Holtby was probably like every other child in football-crazed Europe. Completely normal.

          What did you honestly expect Jones to say? Take off your Stars & Stripes tinted glasses for a moment. He was born and raised in *Germany* and you want to make me believe his dream was to play for USMNT? Next thing you’re going to say is his idol was Alexi Lalas!!


          • Posted by TWEW on 2013/03/22 at 9:19 AM

            literal lol (coming from someone who’s boyhood idol was in fact Alexi Lalas)


          • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/03/22 at 9:56 AM

            I owe you content George — this I know. (no relevant to content above, just pointing out)


          • Posted by Jared on 2013/03/22 at 12:27 PM

            Isn’t Holtby a self professed Everton fan? Everything I’ve read about him was that he was brought up as an England fan by his father. You are assuming a lot about people that isn’t fair and comes off as xenophobic to me especially for a country like the US.

            Here’s a couple of questions for you George. If you have a son who is born and raised in the US but you raise him as an Enland fan then should he only play for US since he wasn’t born in England? Did you have a problem with John Barnes playing for England?


            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2013/03/22 at 7:02 PM

              I have a son. Presently he is too young. But it will depend on where he grows up, as there is a possibility that he is raised in England. But if we stay here, he will be raised as an American fan first and foremost.

              No. Because didn’t Barnes move to England as a child? I wasn’t thrilled about Owen Hargreaves though.

    • Posted by Jared on 2013/03/22 at 11:41 AM

      Bruce can go screw himself on the German American comments. He was more than happy to use Earnie Stewart, Tab Ramos, Jeff Agoos, Pablo Mastroeni and David Regis. How does he know how American the players feel? If you see a lot of Boyd’s tweets I think he’s more American than I am.

      As for his MLS comments in terms of squad makeup, I think Klinsi has used MLS players more than a lot of us would have at this point. It’s not klinsi’s fault that MLS doesn’t have the best US talent anymore. It’s a changed time for the league and for US players in general.


  3. Its funny to use that word “committment” about German-American players yet we’ve had our own home grown babies like Altidore that seems to have finally gotten it or even Mr. America Landon Donovan. Heard of that guy? Needs rest and time away from soccer. Ever seen Beckham or any other European say they need time away? Nope because that is COMMITMENT.

    I don’t see how we’d start Beasley at LB or RB over Morrow and Beltran that play the position regularly. I think we stay in some sort of 4-3-3 that can look a whole lot like 4-4-1-1.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/03/22 at 6:43 AM

      Agreed. It should be on an individual one-to-one basis.

      Case in point. Dempsey just gets back from an injury and has birth of a child. He’s in camp.

      Chandler sits two weeks ago with yellow card accumulation, plays 84mins against Schalke and looks good, then has an “abductor injury” but the coach expects him to start training again early next week.

      I don’t question injuries — but when a pattern emerges of a player claiming injuries and then playing the week afterward, that is concerning.


    • Posted by Eric on 2013/03/22 at 7:36 AM

      Thank you. That’s what I was trying to get across as well. Don’t judge someone’s commitment because they’re German-American. Judge on an individual basis.


    • Posted by CJ on 2013/03/22 at 10:22 AM

      Adrian in regards to your comment on LD, I think it’s a bit unfair to challenge one of the most dedicated players in USMNT history’s commitment to the game. He has played soccer since he could walk year round his entire life and has decided that he doesn’t want soccer to be the end all be all in it. He’s having spiritual issues, not commitment to the National Team issues.
      I think we’ll see a resurgence in him should he eventually find love for the game again by the time the WC rolls around. He’s entitled to some rest, physically and mentally. I’d even contend that by him not playing, if we qualify, and should he return, our team will benefit. (Add in someone like Stuart Holden who may also return to form within a full year of playing and, wow, is all I can say).
      At least he has the honesty to admit it and to own the fact that he’s not in the right place. He has no contract to be a slave for the USMNT. If his heart isn’t there, if I was his friend or family member, I wouldn’t want him to force himself to play, let alone as just a fan.
      I can only hope that he redeems himself and comes back better than ever after this hiatus. I would rally behind him in an instant.


    • Posted by WatertownMA on 2013/03/22 at 6:43 PM

      There are a lot of ways to address the alleged controversy between the German Americans and the others. Here’s one that I’d like to put on the table.

      If Fabian Johnson doesn’t play left back, then who. He’s plugged a gaping hole that no other player has filled. If Tim Chandler doesn’t play right back, then who can replace the aging Steve Cherundolo. Again, no other player fills that hole adequately.

      Who has Jermaine Jones displaced? Beckerman, Holden, Edu? This to me is not clear. Can someone else replace Jones’s contributions – absolutely, or yes to a degree. However, whom other than Michael Bradley can send a physical message to the other team?

      Who has Boyd displaced? Boyd has not gotten enough starting reps on the senior side to make the case that he’s taking any other young gun’s or poacher’s position on the team.


  4. Posted by matthewsf on 2013/03/22 at 6:44 AM

    And by the way, “winning” was a legitimate characteristic evaluated by the last US coach; that I know. That’s not desire, but that was a factor of consideration is all I’m saying.


    • Posted by CJ on 2013/03/22 at 8:57 AM

      I like the way you’ve found how to describe in a PC manner. It’s not their ties to Germany that I question it’s their ties to the USA. I have made the mistake of overemphasizing their dual citizenship as the problem.
      I personally would despise Giuseppe Rossi playing for us even though he gre up here because he turned his back on us. He could’ve turned it for anybody.
      I do believe some of the players are only there as a way to elevate their game and play in the WC. It just so happens they’re playing for the USA.
      We wouldn’t have enjoyed the Mircale on Ice as much without as much patriotic pride as we had for that 1980 US Olympic Hockey team.
      So, again well said on calling it a “factor”. It helps me to express that sentiment better.


  5. Posted by Soccernst on 2013/03/22 at 7:43 AM

    Forget not the feng shui factor! We are off the chaaaarts.

    I forecast 3-1 us of a, with the result never in question. I also forecast a beating in the rapids for mr Viking river cruises in the vid above. And given the way my bracket looks, there may be an element of uncertainty.


    • Posted by Soccernst on 2013/03/22 at 8:06 AM

      Total feng shui football:
      “Today we play halfway between a midfield rhombus and a sort of parallelogram. Jones, du bist die element of fire. And Junior, you represent the element of earth. Now in a way since fire and dirt don’t mix, move with spirit as the game dictates. Und deuce, you are kind of wind. Invisible at times until you blow down the house. DeMarcus you are the element of Mexico.

      Who’s sort of with me ja? Drink up and downward dog.”


  6. Posted by s44 on 2013/03/22 at 7:46 AM

    “Honduras friendly”

    If only!


  7. Posted by Byrdman on 2013/03/22 at 8:09 AM

    Any word on whether Saborio plays tonight or not? Some had sad Wed. that he was doubtful, but the MLS video referenced above seemed to see him as likely.


  8. […] The Shin Guardian Orange Slices: Matt from TSG gives you some news, notes and tactics ahead of tonight’s match. Remember to check back with this link every so often as he will continually update the page up until the 10 p.m. EST start. […]


  9. Posted by mbw on 2013/03/22 at 8:53 AM

    From Klinsmann’s presser: Practices have been closed-door this week so as to avoid letting CR know what the lineup will be.

    I.e.: The lineup was set several days before the game and the starters have been practicing together. Make of this what you will.


  10. Chandler is the problem. He played in the Honduras game to save his seat, but he’s clearly not down to ride.

    Whether it’s because he’s German, has a big forehead, eats left-handed or whatever else is irrelevant. What matters is that he should no longer be a part of the team.

    He’s the one causing all the German v American fuss.

    Trying to figure out the lineup I’d start tonight depresses me. By my estimation, at least 6 and perhaps as many as 12 players who would be in our ideal best 23 are not available tonight.


    • Posted by Union on 2013/03/22 at 10:30 AM

      What? First of all, just so everyone knows, the German Americans issue has been refuted by most people around the team, including journalists who cover it. I think the Bruce Arena logic is ridiculous and he should probably keep his mouth shut. Remember, for all of Jurgen’s failings, he is salt in the wound of so many in the American soccer community (especially veterans) who rose the ranks of the soccer world being consistently undervalued and thought of as second rate to European/South American coaches and players. Jurgen coming in and both acting like and being treated like the messiah only irked these people more. Bruce has a bad history w/ Sunil and he has been sharpening the knives for awhile.

      Second of all, if you’ve ever played on a team of any kind, you know that their are cliques. Furthermore, the German guys (with the exception of Boyd who played for our youth teams) literally do not speak English well at all. There are language barriers. Is it really that surprising that they are in their own clique? Now for some people, this speaks to a larger problem and brings the whole “they aren’t even American and shouldn’t be on the team” debate up. But you can’t deny the language barriers will create cliques.


  11. Posted by cps on 2013/03/22 at 9:18 AM

    My problem with Chandler was his crappy, lackadaisical defending against Honduras. I think that’s quite relevant.


  12. Agree with the 4-4-1-1. Can’t wait to see the lineup for this one tonight.


    • Posted by mbw on 2013/03/22 at 10:06 AM

      At least the starters have been practicing together. Small steps!


      • The Honduras situation was terrible. I’m not sure why CONCACAF scheduled those games with such short camps. Doesn’t help any team in that situation.


  13. Posted by Union on 2013/03/22 at 9:44 AM

    Hey Landon. Wow. Screw you?

    Grant Wahl ‏@GrantWahl 1m

    Looks like Landon Donovan is in Madison, Wis., on day of USA-Costa Rica (via @23botter @JREskilson)


    • Posted by mbw on 2013/03/22 at 10:05 AM

      At least he’s training?


    • I don’t get what the big deal with the Donovan situation is. He’s trying to figure out his life and to do that he needed a sabbatical from soccer.

      I don’t blame him for stepping away the same way you can’t blame Robbie Rodgers for taking a break too.

      Does it inconvenience the USMNT? Sure… but sooner or later they needed to figure out how to play without him.


  14. Posted by Alex on 2013/03/22 at 10:38 AM

    Anybody watch the Klinsmann/Dempsey presser yesterday? Say what you will about how good of a coach JK is, dude is an excellent politician. Always has a well thought out answer to every question. He handles the media pretty well.

    And also, Caleb Porter for asst. coach! Couldn’t that be a part time position?


  15. Posted by surfndave on 2013/03/22 at 10:40 AM

    Huh? World Cup Qualifying? Controversy? Landon? I thought this piece was all about standing river wave surfing? I mean, everyone with a pulse knows the absolutely best and beautiful river wave surfing comes from the river Eisbach in Munich, Germany!


  16. Posted by AMH on 2013/03/22 at 12:28 PM

    which team is better in the snow?


  17. Posted by mbw on 2013/03/22 at 1:13 PM

    O/T: Are there really three Austrian GKs better than Michael Gspurning?


  18. Posted by matthewsf on 2013/03/22 at 1:57 PM

    Some more video:


  19. Posted by dth on 2013/03/22 at 3:49 PM

    I wonder if MLS teams would think about hiring some of these foreign NT coaches — e.g. official TSG coach-crush Jelio Dely Valdes.


  20. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2013/03/22 at 7:06 PM

    Good luck!


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