(From USSoccer.com) - GAME NOTES FOR SATURDAY'S USA VS. COSTA RICA MATCH
DETOUR: It was business as usual when the U.S. Men’s National Team left their Miami hotel at 2:45 p.m. ET. That all changed when one of the staff members was briefly left behind and the journey quickly became anything but normal. The charter flight took off for San Jose with an expected arrival time of approximately 5 p.m. MT and the group settled into their normal flight routine of DVD's sleep and Texas Hold 'Em.
About an hour out of San Jose ground control informed the pilots that bad weather in San Jose made landing impossible at the moment. Deciding to head to Panama City to refuel and wait out the storm the charter touched down about 6:30 local time. And then the wait began. Every weather update contained the same ominous news; meantime the flight crew fired up a second round of meals while U.S. Soccer officials and hotel staff on the ground were furiously arranging alternate plans.
After three hours the decision was made to stay in Panama City for the night save for one problem. A huge chicken and egg convention - we're not making this up - had booked nearly every room in the city. Ever resourceful and with the help of the Intercontinental in Panama City the team found accommodation in the jungle resort town of Gamboa about an hour from the airport.
After customs officials finally cleared the group the team departed (without bags) on a winding bus ride through the city eventually settling in for the night in a magnificent resort at approximately 11 p.m. local time. With 7:30 a.m. wake up calls the team headed back to the airport for the 45-minute flight to San Jose. Many thanks to Tom King and Pam Perkins of U.S. Soccer and Heidi from the Intercontinental for their last-minute scramble to find the boys a place to get a good night's sleep.
THE POST-2002 WORLD CUP ERA HITS THE BIG 5-0: When they take the field Saturday night the U.S. will be playing in its 50th game since the historic quarterfinal run in the 2002 FIFA World Cup. During that span the United States has used 72 players while amassing a record of 31-7-11 (with 28 shutouts). Outscoring their opponents 88-27 they have only lost three games at home in three years falling to Argentina Brazil and England. Of the seven defeats since Korea/Japan all seven opponents were ranked seventh or better by FIFA at the time of the match.
GLENN DAVIS GETS THE CALL: Fans of soccer in the U.S. will hear a familiar voice on the ESPN2 broadcast Saturday night at 10 p.m. ET as HDNet play-by-play man Glenn Davis fills in for JP Dellacamera. Davis will sit alongside Marcelo Balboa the two reprising their partnership seen each week calling the action on HDNet. Davis writes a weekly soccer column for the Houston Chronicle and hosts a weekly soccer show on the ESPN radio affiliate in that area.
MLS CONNECTIONS: Sixteen of 18 players on the U.S. roster are current or former members of MLS sides while Costa Rica lists two players currently plying their trade in the top U.S. domestic league. Chris Albright and Michael Umana are the only teammates facing each other Saturday normally lining up on the same side with the Los Angeles Galaxy.
SNAPSHOT – COSTA RICA: The Costa Ricans enter Saturday’s match in third place in the final hexagonal needing a win to clinch a spot in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Brazilian-born head coach Alexandre Guimaraes continues his second stint with the team having guided the Ticos to the 2002 FIFA World Cup after finishing in first place in CONCACAF qualifying. Costa Rica are led by dangerous frontman Paulo Wanchope who has notched an astounding 42 goals in 65 international appearances while the midfield engines of Ronald Gomez and Walter Centeno are dangerous in both their distribution and as set up men. Eight players on the roster hail from Deportivo Saprissa winners of the CONCACAF Champions Cup. Team captain Luis Marin is the all-time capwinner for Costa Rica with 114 international appearances.
-Three U.S. players are carrying cards into Saturday’s match: Carlos Bocanegra Bobby Convey and Eddie Lewis. Their next caution will result in an automatic one-match suspension in qualifying. Meantime Costa Rica has a host of players on the hot seat: Walter Centeno Leonardo Gonzalez Carlos Hernandez Gilberto Martinez Roy Miller Jose Porras and Alonso Solis which in part explains the overloaded 25-man roster.
-The U.S. has a lifetime record of 11-9-4 against Costa Rica but has never won on the road and holds an 0-5-1 record in qualifying in Costa Rica. In their last 10 meetings the U.S. has a 6-2-2 advantage against the Ticos with all six wins coming in the U.S. and both losses coming in San Jose Costa RicaEddie Pope is the group’s leading capwinner in World Cup qualifying as the 10-year U.S. veteran has collected 30 appearances good for third place on the all-time list behind Kasey Keller (32) and Claudio Reyna (31)
-At the other end of the spectrum five players on the 18-man roster are in search of their first World Cup qualifying appearance: Wade Barrett Danny Califf Ricardo Clark Kevin Hartman and Kyle Martino. (Of that group only Clark has yet to earn a cap for the full team)
-Seven players got their first-ever start in a World Cup qualifying match Sept. 7 against Guatemala. Four starters made their first-ever qualifying appearances in Jimmy Conrad Jeff Cunningham Marcus Hahnemann and Chad Marshall. In addition to those four Clint Dempsey Santino Quaranta and Taylor Twellman all made their first appearances as starters in World Cup qualifying play
-DaMarcus Beasley is the leading capwinner in 2006 qualifying on the roster having started 12 matches and scoring four goals. He continues to add to his career-best scoring tally in a single year with the full team recording four goals and four assists Pope is the only player on the roster to have appeared in the USA’s last qualifier in Costa Rica a 2-0 loss on Sept. 5 2001 in San Jose
-Four players on the roster started the USA’s last qualifying match against Costa Rica a 3-0 U.S. win on June 4 in Salt Lake City Utah: Beasley Bocanegra Convey and Pope
-The teams’ last time out was a scoreless affair in the final match of Group B action in the 2005 Gold Cup. The result secured the USA’s top finish in the group improving their overall record in Gold Cup group play to 18-0-1. DaMarcus Beasley is the only member of the current squad to appear in that match entering as a substitute in the 58th minute
-Bobby Convey netted his first international goal against Costa Rica his curling left-footed strike just inside the near post in the 67th minute proving the game-winner in the third place match of the 2003 Gold Cup on July 26 2003 in Miami. The 3-2 comeback win represents the only time in Bruce Arena’s tenure that the team has won a match after trailing at halftime (1-13-4 overall)
-Tim Howard will make his first appearance for the United States in the final round hexagonal as well as his first in 2005. The 2003 EPL Goalkeeper of the Year has one qualifying cap to his credit earning his fifth career shutout for the MNT in the 2-0 win against El Salvador on Sept. 4 2004 in Foxboro Mass.