June 2, 2009
By Michael Lewis
THE CONFIDENCE FACTOR
U.S. ready to make some history and finally win in Costa Rica
San Jose, Costa Rica -- Are they overconfident or ready to produce an upset and make some history?
|Landon Donovan: "We feel we're a more talented team and we feel like we're a better team. We want to become a team that can compete at a real level at the World Cup. These are the games we need to
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Though the U.S. National Team has never won in eight attempts in this Central American country, the Americans feel they can prevail over Costa Rica in a hostile stadium in a World Cup qualifier Wednesday night (ESPN, 10 p.m. ET).
"This is a game we think we can win," U.S. midfielder-forward Landon Donovan said. "We feel we're a more talented team and we feel like we're a better team. We want to become a team that can compete at a real level at the World Cup. These are the games we need to win. We have a good opportunity now."
A win would put the first-place U.S. (2-0-1, seven points) a giant step closer to reaching an unprecedented sixth consecutive World Cup in South Africa. The Americans lead the CONCACAF six-team final group, followed by Costa Rica (2-1-0, six), Honduras (1-1-1, four), a disappointing Mexico (1-2-0, three), El Salvador (0-1-2, two) and Trinidad & Tobago (0-1-2, two). The top three teams qualify with the fourth-place team taking on the fifth-place side in South America in a special playoff.
Costa Rican defender Gonzalo Segares, who plays with the Chicago Fire, said the U.S. was "the best team in CONCACAF right now. It's going to be a hard game."
The Americans are 0-6-1 in seven qualifiers (the lone point was a 1-1 draw in 1985) and 0-6-2 overall here. Their experiences at Estadio Ricardo Saprissa -- aka the Purple Monster and Cave -- have been a nightmare with a 0-5-1 record.
"They're a team that plays extremely well at home," U.S. forward Brian Ching said. "They feed off their fans and make it a difficult place to play."
The team won't have much time to catch its breath as it will fly to Chicago for Saturday's WCQ encounter with a well-rested Honduras as the U.S. hits the mid-point of its 10-game schedule.
"Our mindset is if we can get four or six points out of the next two games, we are close to our goal," Donovan said.