The US head to Mexico for a clash of regional giants today buoyed by their controversial triumph over Costa Rica in snowy Denver, Colorado, in a World Cup qualifier on Friday.
Costa Rica officials were left demanding a replay after falling 1-0 to the US in a match played in poor visibility on a pitch blanketed by snow.
Salvadoran referee Joel Aguilar briefly halted the game in the 55th minute, before allowing the match to conclude — a decision that saw Costa Rica Football Federation vice president Jorge Hidalgo demanding he be suspended.
The US, though, were delighted to gain three points and move into second place behind Honduras in the six-nation final qualifying group for the North and Central America and the Caribbean (CONCACAF) region.
Three teams from the region will advance directly to the World Cup finals in Brazil, while the fourth-placed team will play off for a berth against top Oceania team New Zealand.
While the snowy conditions of Friday’s match outraged Costa Rica, US coach Jurgen Klinsmann was delighted to see his players pull together in the difficult circumstances.
After they dropped their opener in Honduras, Klinsmann was under pressure, with one report prior to Friday’s match citing unidentified US players as doubting his methods.
“It’s about adjustments, dealing with all those different things. Fields, climates, all those circumstances, and make the best out of it and get your points,” Klinsmann said.
“I think it was a big step [on Friday] to get those points. So we want to continue that way,” he said.
Despite the vagaries of the weather, Klinsmann said playing on Friday in the Rocky Mountains should benefit the US when they play in the even higher altitude of Mexico City.
A trip to Mexico’s Azteca Stadium is always a tough proposition and Mexico will be even more determined after squandering a 2-0 lead en route to a 2-2 draw in Honduras on Friday.
The draw put Honduras top of the standings with four points, followed by the US on three. Mexico, Panama and Jamaica all have two points, while Costa Rica bring up the rear with one.
Mexico went ahead 2-0 with a brace of goals from Manchester United forward Javier Hernandez in the sweltering heat in San Pedro Sula on Friday, but walked away with just a point.
The result followed a disappointing draw at home to Jamaica in their opener and Mexico will be keen to get a victory before the qualifying campaign breaks until June.
In today’s other matches, Panama host Honduras and Costa Rica are at home to Jamaica, who drew 1-1 with Panama on Friday.