SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — The United States men’s National soccer team suffered a loss to Costa Rica Sept. 6, breaking their previously held 12-match winning streak. The game was a victory for both Costa Rican soccer players and locals but is now under scrutiny by FIFA, the international soccer governing body.
The game was played at Estadio Nacional in San Jose, which is the home field of the Costa Rican players otherwise known as Los Ticos.
The game got off to an unexpected start when U.S. star midfielder Michael Bradley walked off the field during warm-ups. Bradley had a sprained ankle and remained on the bench the entire game.
Los Ticos scored two goals in the first half, leaving the United States desperate for a point. U.S. midfielder Clint Dempsey scored a penalty goal with three minutes to spare in the first half. Unfortunately for the U.S. team, Costa Rica added one more goal in the second half. The final score was 3-1.
In March, Costa Rica suffered a 1-0 loss to the USA team on American turf.
Claudio Arias is a local hostel and restaurant owner in Jaco Beach, Costa Rica. He said after their loss in March, his team finally took their revenge.
Daniel Sanchez, a California native who works for Arias, explained the Costa Rican players had somewhat of a disadvantage.
“Everyone here was angry,” Sanchez said. “They played in Colorado, in the snow, and most of the Costa Rican team had never played in snow before.”
This game was Costa Rica’s chance to redeem itself, and anticipation for the rematch generated a high level of excitement among the locals on game day.
Arias played the match on a big screen in his restaurant, “Papas and Burgers.” The restaurant was filled with bursts of cheering each time Los Ticos scored, directly followed by the chanting of their national anthem.
Miller Delbridge, a junior at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, is currently studying abroad in Costa Rica. He watched the game at Arias’ restaurant, surrounded by local Costa Ricans and other American college students.
“I’ve watched soccer on television before, but never in an atmosphere like that,” Delbridge said.
Arias’ restaurant and hostel is a common spot for watching sports games. He has a wide range of visitors, but most are foreigners looking for a hip, cheap place to stay for the weekend.
“I have Germans, Australians, Americans, Costa Ricans, Swedish, you name it, we’ve had it,” Arias said. “I like to think I have one of the most diverse hostels in Jaco Beach.”
The night of the big game, Arias’ establishment was booming, as were many public venues. The American loss didn’t appear to cause any strife between locals and what the Costa Rican people like to call “gringos” — typically American foreigners.
“Everyone was a good sport about the game,” Sanchez said. “I like to think that it creates this bond, because we’re all yelling and screaming, but in the end it doesn’t matter as much which team you’re cheering for. It matters that everyone got involved.”
The Costa Rican Football Federation is currently under investigation for three separate incidents that occurred Sept. 6 at the Estadio Nacional.
Reports state that prior to kickoff, fans booed and whistled during the U.S. national anthem, the PA turned off Dempsey’s microphone while he was in the process of reading out a statement about fair play and onlookers in the stands pointed lasers at the U.S. coaching staff and players.
The country itself eliminated its standing army in 1949 and is usually considered to be a relaxed and friendly place for travelers. Overall, the locals accept Americans as revenue-enhancing tourists and treat them with respect and kindness. But when it comes to Central America’s favorite pastime, it appears their hostility can surface unexpectedly.
“We love soccer, but we love beating USA in soccer even more,” Arias said. “I also won $10 after betting on this game, so that’s a plus.”