CONCACAF Rewind: Costa Rica continues unbeaten run with home win vs. Panama

CostaRicaPanama (AFP)

By JUSTIN FERGUSON

Many have pointed to March’s snow-covered World Cup Qualifier in Colorado as the key momentum swing in the United States’ run of recent good form on the road to Brazil 2014.

You could also point to the 1-0 result at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park as a turning point for the loser of the now-famous blizzard match. Since that loss, Costa Rica has rocketed up to second place in the table with two home wins and a draw with Mexico at the Azteca.

Costa Rica kept the momentum going on Tuesday night with a 2-0 home win over Panama. After a physical and scoreless first half at a rain-soaked National Stadium in San Jose, Los Ticos scored two quick goals from distance to put away their frustrated visitors.

The win, which pushes second-place Costa Rica three points clear of Mexico heading into the final four qualifiers, delivered an important three points for a side trying to get back into the World Cup after a 2010 absence.

Captain Bryan Ruiz broke the deadlock in the 49th minute on a free kick. While the Panama wall was expecting a high, curling shot on goal, Ruiz drilled a low shot that splashed its way into the back of the net.

Three minutes later, Los Ticos were celebrating another goal. This time Ruiz set up midfielder Celso Borges, who hit an unbelievable long range effort into the corner of Jaime Penedo’s net.

Ruiz and Borges’s goals were the only two shots on goal Costa Rica had the entire match as Panama controlled the pace of play for the rest of the second half. The visitors put twice as many shots on goal as Costa Rica did on Tuesday night, but Keylor Navas was there to deny Panama all four times.

Second-place Costa Rica remains two points behind the HEX-leading United States, who will be seeking their first-ever road win against Los Ticos when they visit in September.

Fifth-place Panama, on the other hand, grabbed just one point from its June qualifiers after a hot start to the final round. Panama is two points back from Mexico and one point back from Honduras, who currently holds the playoff spot in the league table.

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What did you make of this result? Impressed with Costa Rica’s good run since its loss to the United States? Surprised at Panama’s poor June? How do you see these two sides finishing in the table?

Share your thoughts below.

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18 Responses to CONCACAF Rewind: Costa Rica continues unbeaten run with home win vs. Panama

  1. SanFran415 says:

    This loss by Panama nearly guarantees our qualification.

    • jake says:

      Nearly guarantees us coming 4th or better. Doesn’t directly affect the top 3. The loss by Honduras is more relevant there. A loss we gave them last night…

    • AcidBurn says:

      If the US draws CR and Mexico beats Honduras, the US would have 14 points and Honduras would be on 7 points. Then the US could beat Mexico to go to 17 points and even if HON wins at home, HON is at 10 points in 4th and can’t catch the US with only 2 games remaining. US qualifies.

      If HON draws Mexico, take HON to 11 points, and HON could still catch the US even if the US draws/wins and has 17 points. Qualification would have to wait until KC.

  2. Rata de dos patas says:

    Looks like Panama and Honduras will battle for the repechage.

  3. Soncho says:

    reeeevverb especial golazo

    link to youtube.com

  4. Mike R says:

    USA
    Honduras
    Costa Rica
    Ann Panama will play New Zealand for final spot

  5. DC Josh says:

    If we beat Costa Rica and Honduras loses on Matchday 7, do we automatically qualify?

    • Mister JC says:

      If you calculate that scenario the rest of the way out, US and Honduras would be tied on points. 7 more points out of the 12 remaining will automatically put the US in the World Cup, mathematically, but they will probably wrap it up officially if they get just 4 points…

    • NC Jeff says:

      Not officially, but if the 2 games you mentioned happen the way you mentioned, for the USA to fail to finish at least 3rd, it would require 1 of 2 groups of A LOT of very specific things: Path 1: Honduras would have to win at home vs. Panama, at home vs. Costa Rica, and @ Jamaica. Also, Mexico would have to win @ USA and at home vs. Panama. Also, Costa Rica would have to win at home vs. Mexico. Also, USA would have to lose at home vs. Jamaica. Finally, Honduras would have to trump the USA on Goal Differential, or if tied, more Goals For. Path 2: Panama would have to win at home vs. Jamaica, @ Honduras, @ Mexico, and at home vs. USA. Also Mexico would have to win @ USA and @ Costa Rica. Also, USA would have to lose at home to Jamaica. Finally, Costa Rica would have to win @ Jamaica and @ Honduras. If Panama were to tie Jamaica, the Path 2) still applies, but Panama would then also have to trump the USA on GD or GF. Sorry, you asked.

  6. Pgloerse says:

    Do they still have crap pitch in cr?

    • Mister JC says:

      I don’t know what the normal situation is over there, but after what happened in Denver, I would expect miserable conditions when the US plays Costa Rica, as miserable as FIFA will allow…

      • Scott says:

        Costa Rica had a gorgeous new national stadium. I was there in March. That’s where they have played all their Hex home matches…so far. After the Colorado debacle they have already announced their intention to play us at Saprissa and not at the new stadium. The new stadium has a track which takes the fans much further back from the field and is also grass.

      • pgloerse says:

        So it is at Saprissa – by far the most awful field in all of Concacaf – will be a huge challenge. link to ussoccer.com

      • ... says:

        Costa Rica seems to be planning to play the U.S. at Saprissa rather than the Estadio Nacional. (Saprissa has a notoriously terrible field. And I’m using “field” in the loosest sense of the word.)

      • Joe+G says:

        Possible that it won’t be in Saprissa. FIFA isn’t certifying the pitch for the 2014 U17 Women’s WC and that may mean they aren’t able to use it for the WCQ:

        Here’s what ASN had to say:

        link to americansoccernow.com

        • bryan says:

          interesting.

        • bryan says:

          “Yo no quiero adelantar criterios, mejor esperar hasta el 1.° de julio cuando ellos vengan; pero tengo que ser sincero: lo veo difícil”, adujo el dirigente.

          yeah, doesn’t look promising.

    • AcidBurn says:

      The latest is that the CR Fed is doubtful that the renovations on Saprissa will be completed in time, so they will have to move the game to the Estadio Nacional.

      The pitch in CR seemed to even hold up last night in a downpour, so yeah, it’s a massive improvement. Plus the fans are about 15 yards back from the pitch (there’s a running track between the field and the stands). Big difference from the fans literally climbing the barbed wire on top of the goal at Saprissa.