You know what they say about payback … being a You-Know-What and all.
No one around Costa Rica’s national team was one bit impressed with the decisions made late last month in Denver around Nieve Guerra – the Snow War. (Why didn’t we think of that nickname sooner …?)
The Costa Ricans even lodged an official complaint with FIFA. Like most of these official complaints to world soccer’s governing body, it went absolutely nowhere.
So it’s hardly shocking that Costa Rica has passed put the teams’ upcoming World Cup qualifier in the least comfortable place for the United States. Costa Rica will apparently pass on the chance to play the teams’ return leg in the round robin schedule of final round World Cup qualifying inside the country’s gleaming new national stadium.
Costa Rican federation president Eduardo Li told a Costa Rican radio station that his federation will stage the teams’ Sept. 6 qualifier Estadio Ricardo Saprissa, a longtime, frequent site for national team matches.
Stadium nickname: The Monster’s Cave. Known for: that intimidating “cage” around the field.
It’s a “monster” to visitors not just for the cage-like effect, but also due to its artificial turf playing surface, on which most visitors are loath to perform. Remember, the United States agreed to host a match at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field only if the Sounders would install a temporary grass field over the facility’s artificial surface.
Actually, a U.S. Soccer federation spokesman told me late Tuesday afternoon that U.S. coaches and staff expected to play at Saprissa all along, and not necessarily due to what unfolded in Denver.
The U.S. national team has never won at Saprissa, with a 0-7-1 mark all along. So even though the Ticos played Mexico on the grass field of the new national stadium, the United States has always anticipated this game being held at the usual site.
Following last week’s decision handed down by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Peru captain and talisman Paolo Guerrero has been banned from the 2018 World Cup — at the age of 34, almost certainly his last opportunity to star on the world’s biggest stage.
[ PREVIEW: USMNT hosts Bolivia in shadows of World Cup hype ]
However, in the days since that decision, a number of Guerrero’s fellow professionals and World Cup stars — France and Denmark captains Hugo Lloris and Simon Kjaer, and Australia’s Mile Jedinak — have written to FIFA, on behalf of FIFPro, the world player union, in hopes of rendering Guerrero eligible to pay at next month’s tournament in Russia.
“We respectfully ask the Fifa Council to show compassion,” the trio wrote. “In our view it would be plainly wrong to exclude him from what should be a pinnacle of his career.”
[ MORE: Ronaldo hints at Real Madrid exit | Bale does the same ]
That Lloris, Kjaer and Jedinak are the players lobbying in favor of Guerrero is particularly notable given the fact that Peru will face France, Denmark and Australia in Group C.
Guerrero tested positive for cocaine late last year, after a tea he drank was tainted and triggered a fail drug test.
KANSAS CITY, KAN. — The game in 100 words (or less): Nothing ruins a good game of soccer more than controversies involving the referee — and now that VAR is active within MLS, yet another failure of the video-review system to correct the most “clear and obvious” of wrong decisions. There is no longer any rhyme or reason in deciding whether or not to utilize what could be a very helpful tool. Check the third video further down this page to comprehend the absurdity of VAR in Sporting Kansas City’s 0-0 draw with Columbus Crew SC on Sunday. As for the actual soccer which was played, Tim Melia made one save to deny Gyasi Zardes with a point-blank header early in the first half, and a second to deny Zardes rom the penalty spot just before halftime. Despite being a back-and-forth affair between the league’s second- and third-place teams with a chance to take the lead in the Supporters’ Shield race, there were just six shots on target in total and genuine scoring chances were few and far between.
[ PREVIEW: USMNT hosts Bolivia in shadows of World Cup hype ]
Three moments that mattered
43′ — Zardes wins a PK, but Melia makes the save — Melia was responsible for giving away the penalty kick, and he more than made up for it by denying Zardes moments later.
45+6′ — Higuain puts studs into Espinoza, sees red — Originally not called a foul, changed to a red card following video review. On the softer side of red cards (just an opinion).
59′ — Martinez takes a swing at Sinovic, but no video review — At this point, it’s just time to disband the entire VAR experiment. It’s turned MLS into a clown show and an embarrassment. Signed, someone who was initially in favor of VAR, assuming MLS would utilize it properly.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage | Standings | Stats | Schedule ]
Man of the match: Tim Melia
MADRID (AP) Rayo Vallecano earned promotion to Spain’s top division after beating Lugo 1-0 in a second-tier league game on Sunday.
Alex Moreno’s goal for the hosts in the 40th minute sealed Rayo’s return to La Liga after two seasons away.
Huesca had already secured promotion last weekend with a 2-0 victory at Lugo.
The third team to move up will be the winner of a two-round playoff between the four teams that finish the season from third to sixth.
Malaga, Las Palmas and Deportivo La Coruna were all relegated from the top flight this season.
KANSAS CITY, KAN. — Western Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City host Columbus Crew SC, the Eastern Conference’s second-place side, at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday with both sides capable of overtaking Atlanta United for top spot in the Supporters’ Shield race.
[ FOLLOW: SKC vs. Crew SC in top-of-the-table clash ]
Sporting KC, who are unbeaten in three straight and have lost just once since opening day (11 games), lead expansion side Los Angeles FC in the West. Meanwhile, Crew SC enter Sunday’s top-of-the-table clash unbeaten in their last six games (four wins) and trail the league leaders from Atlanta by a single point.
Hit the link above to follow along throughout the afternoon, and check back with PST for coverage after the final whistle.