Costa Rica v United States - FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier

Where does Friday’s snowy, remarkable U.S. win rank among most memorable qualifiers ever?

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Before we move on from Friday’s amazing scenes outside Denver, turning everyone’s attention to what’s ahead in Tuesday’s friendly against Mexico as the U.S. march to Brazil 2014 continues, let’s spend just a few more minutes considering the unforgettable, snowy scenes at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

Specifically, where does the United States’ 1-0 win over Costa Rica that played out so remarkably in a blizzard outside Denver rank among the most memorable U.S. World Cup qualifiers?

For the drama of the moment, but mostly for the novelty and for the aesthetic of the awesome pictures coming out of DSG Park, this was undoubtedly among the most unforgettable U.S. World Cup qualifiers ever.

The Top Five in my mind:

5. U.S. – Trinidad and Tobago in Port of Spain, 1989: The soccer historians will tell you this one mattered more than any others in the big picture. Paul Caligiuri scored the afternoon’s only goal in a 1-0 win (perhaps the most famous goal in U.S. national team history) that secured passage to World Cup 1990 in Italy. Without the goal, the United States’ role as hosts five years later may have been subject to even more worldwide mock and scorn than it was. That appearance (made possible that win in Port of Spain, helped validate the growing U.S. place in global soccer.

4. U.S. – Costa Rica in Portland, 1997: U.S. midfielder Tab Ramos scored the only goal in a monumental U.S. achievement over Costa Rica, a 1-0 victory that Steve Sampson’s team needed desperately to keep the drive alive for France ’98. But it wasn’t just the result that mattered, it was the absolutely brilliant, stirring atmosphere in downtown Portland. American soccer grew up a little bit that day, and wonderfully so.

3. U.S. – El Salvador in New England, 2001: An odd one, because so few people actually saw it. The United States had lost three qualifiers in a row, and chances of passage into World Cup 2002 in Asia were nearly on the skids. Bruce Arena’s team clawed out the needed result (2-1 over Jamaica), but that’s not what makes this one so memorable, again, in an odd way. All networks preempted programming as the Afghan War began that day when U.S. aircraft began attacks.

2. U.S. – Costa Rica in Denver, 2013: The yellow ball was out (better seen against the fluffy white background that framed the pictures and made this match such a unique spectacle. And a lovely one – for anyone watching this surreal scene unfold from the comfy warmth of their living room, at least. The cascading drama around the U.S. side made Friday’s contest meaningful, never mind the meteorological mayhem.

1. U.S. – Mexico in Columbus, 2001: Truly, in a place where “meaningful” meets “memorable” in terms of U.S. qualifier moments, this will continue to be the gold standard for years and years to come. The original La Guerra Fria was as significant in that it began a period of U.S. dominance in the border series with Mexico – and because it was so darned infuriating to the opponents, a match set in bitterly cold Columbus expressly to create maximum discomfort for the Mexicans.

(MORE: Some of the beautifully snowy scenes from DSG Park)

How will USMNT line up vs. Mexico in CONCACAF Cup?

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You probably don’t need reminding, but just in case you do, the U.S. national team face Mexico in a huge one-off CONCACAF Cup game on Saturday at the Pasadena Rose Bowl.

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The winner will represent CONCACAF at the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia as Jurgen Klinsmann’s USMNT side are the underdogs against El Tri.

With plenty of struggles and a hangover from the 2015 Gold Cup failure, Klinsmann is under pressure and getting his team selection spot on will be crucial if the USA are going to get past Mexico in front of over 90,000 fans at the Rose Bowl.

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Below I suggest three possible starting lineups, then give my conclusion on how I think the U.S. will lineup.

Let us know if you agree by posting your own lineups in the comments section below.

Klinsmann’s choice

—– Guzan —–

— Johnson — Cameron — Besler — Ream —

Jones —– Bradley

— Bedoya — Dempsey — Zardes —

—– Altidore —–

Mix-and-match XI

—– Howard —–

— Cameron — Besler — Ream — Beasley —

—– Williams —–

— Yedlin — Bradley — Zusi —

— Altidore — Zardes —

Stopping Mexico

—– Howard —–

— Johnson — Besler — Ream — Beasley —

—– Cameron —–

— Dempsey — Williams — Bradley — Jones —

— Altidore —


I think Klinsmann’s choice is the way to go, although Tim Howard‘s presence in goal over Brad Guzan would certainly help strengthen the USA’s defense. A center back pairing of Cameron and Besler must happen, while having Johnson in at right back will be a boost and Ream’s size may see him get the nod over Beasely. In midfield I’d go with Jones and Bradley sitting in front of othe back four and then that would allow, Zardes, Bedoya and Dempsey to support Altidore up top.

The final selection is ultra-defensive, but given the form of his team and Mexico’s attacking talents, Klinsmann may start more defensive and then change tact as the game goes on. Having all of your most-experienced players on the pitch will prove vital to succeeding at the Rose Bowl, therefore, even though the Mix-and-Match XI looks speedy and is dangerous, I’d expect to see “Klinsmann’s choice” or “Stopping Mexico” to be more like the starting lineup on Saturday.

“Legends World Cup” hope to bring Beckham, Zidane to Mexico

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David Beckham and Zinedine Zidane coaxed out of retirement to play in a “Legends World Cup” you say?

Well, that got my attention.

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According to an interview with the BBC’s world service, the organizers of the 2017 Legends World Cup are hoping to entice both Becks and Zizou to roll back the years and represent their nations in Mexico.

Beckham, 40, and Zidane, 43, are already putting their boots back on to captain a Great Britain and Ireland XI vs. a World XI for a friendly at Old Trafford on November 14 to raise money for UNICEF, and former Mexico goalkeeper Jorge Campos, 48, has urged the duo to take part in the tournament in 2017 where he will coach Mexico’s team.

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From the BBC:

“I want to see Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham, Brazilian Ronaldo,” said Campos, 48, the flamboyant ex-Mexico goalkeeper who will coach his country.

“Everybody wants to see Argentina’s Diego Maradona, but he can’t play. He’s too old.”

The tournament is scheduled to take place at the beginning of 2017, with 12 teams in total — four from the Americas, six from Europe and one each from Africa and Asia — taking part.

Given the age (players must be aged between 35-45) and caliber of the players Campos and Co. are trying to recruit, let’s have a think about who would play for the U.S.

Landon Donovan and Brian McBride up front? Brad Friedel in goal? Let us know who would make the squad.