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US Soccer Hosts Costa Rica in Key World Cup Qualifier

  • Parke Brewer

The U.S. Soccer team hosts Costa Rica Friday night in an important World Cup qualifying match in Commerce City in suburban Denver, Colorado. The U.S. sits last in the six-team qualifying group in the North, Central America and Caribbean region - or CONCACAF - after a 2-1 loss at Honduras last month in the opening round of matches.

As most followers of World Cup qualifying know, it's crucial to win your home games.

U.S. forward and new captain Clint Dempsey, a star for England's Tottenham Hotspur, says he and his American teammates know what's at stake.

"We have to score goals, so it's always good playing back in the (United) States and having that home field advantage. But it's definitely about winning at home, because it's crucial if you're not winning at home, well, then your chances of qualifying for the World Cup don't look good," Dempsey said.

The U.S. team's German coach Jurgen Klinsmann is under some pressure after the defeat to Honduras and criticism of how he's handled his players. This match won't be easy with several players sidelined with injuries.

But forward Eddie Johnson of Major League Soccer's Seattle Sounders says at least this time the group has had more training days together.

"We have a full week here together for guys to form that chemistry and understanding and gelling as quickly as possible to get three points in the game (with a win). But we know the importance of it. We know it's going to be hard, but we're looking forward to the game," Johnson said.

In recent years, the U.S. Soccer team has tended to play its best when facing adversity. The players, their coach and their fans are hoping that will be the case in their World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica.