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September 6, 2013 at 11:42 AM

USMNT set to face Costa Rica in World Cup qualifying, shenanigans and all

The U.S. men’s national team, with the Sounders FC duo of Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson, will play Costa Rica in a World Cup qualifier today at 7 p.m. (beIN Sport is carrying the broadcast, which means Comcast subscribers might need to find other options).

The game hasn’t started yet but the U.S. has already faced a number of challenges, from having eggs thrown at the bus, to having to figure out their own practice facility, to dancing cow mascots with air-horns and so on. Keith Olbermann covers the topic pretty well in the video posted above, and obviously Costa Rica is still upset from the snowy qualifier earlier this year in Denver, a 1-0 win for the USMNT.

I asked Sounders coach Sigi Schmid about the shenanigans after Friday’s practice.

“I thought the cow was interesting … and the air-horn and so forth,” Schmid said with a laugh. “That’s normal. That’s normal. I’ve been involved in some of that when I was involved with the national team, and that’s just normal stuff. You expect it, so when you expect it, it’s nothing that knocks you off your kilter or anything like that.”

The follow-up then was should this be normal? And are some lines being crossed?

“Obviously it’s the passion of the fans,” Schmid said, “so if they’re going to be outside your hotel… I mean throwing eggs at the bus or things like that is maybe a little bit different and a little bit extreme, but you can’t stop them from gathering outside your hotel. You can’t stop them necessarily from blowing their horns when you’re trying to sleep at night. That’s something that, yeah, they can try and establish a perimeter, and there’s fair play and all that stuff, but it’s still something they’re passionate about what they stand for.”

More specific to the game. There is a scenario where the U.S. can clinch World Cup qualification tonight. It would involve a win in Costa Rica, a tie between Mexico and Honduras, then Jamaica earning at least a tie against Panama.

Here was a more game-specific preview from Schmid: “Obviously the U.S. is trying to get their first win in Costa Rica, which would be a good accomplishment. But more so than anything they’re just looking at advancing to the World Cup in Brazil. Costa Rica is a motivated team tonight because of what happened in the first game. Playing at the national stadium is certainly a much easier task than playing at Saprissa Stadium. I think that’s going to help the U.S. a little bit. The crowd is far away from the action because of the track around it and the grass is good and the surface is good, so I think those are some favorable things for the U.S. team and will help them get the result that they need.”

Here is a look at the standings:

Country Games W L D GF GA GD Points
USA 6 4 1 1 8 3 +5 13
Costa Rica 6 3 1 2 6 3 +3 11
Mexico 6 1 0 5 3 2 +1 8
Honduras 6 2 3 1 6 7 -1 7
Panama 6 1 2 3 5 7 -2 6
Jamaica 6 0 4 2 2 8 -6 2

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