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  • Players need to impress Arena in Costa Rica qualifier.

    U.S. men

    Americans take long way to San Jose for World Cup qualifier.

    By Robert Wagman
    SoccerTimes

    (Friday, October 7, 2005) -- Do you know the way to San Jose? For the United States men yesterday, it was via Gamboa, Panama.

    What should have been a relatively easy flight team into San Jose, Costa Rica, for Saturday night's 9 p.m. (ET) World Cup qualifier turned into a bit of an odyssey because of torrential rain and high winds in Costa Rica.

    The team trained yesterday morning in Miami, Fla., went back to its hotel for lunch and then left for the airport to board a charter flight for Costa Rica. The expected landing time was about 5 p.m., local time.

    The charter's crew, however, learned about an hour before landing that San Jose International Airport was being closed because of a low fog. While the plane circled, the American contingent was served a hot meal.

    With the San Jose airport still closed, it was decided to land in Panama City to refuel. The plane touched down in Panama City about 6:30 p.m., local time.

    After waiting about three hours on the ground in Panama for the San Jose airport to open, it was decided the best course was to spend the night in Panama City. But where?

    In Panama, the U.S. normally stays at the Intercontinental Hotel in Panama City, which has become a favorite of players, staff and media. But because of an annual regional poultry convention in Panama City, virtually every hotel in the city was fully booked. With the help of the Intercontinental's management, enough rooms were found in the plush jungle resort town of Gamboa, about an hour from the airport.

    By all accounts, the substitute hotel was "magnificent," yet the players had scant time to enjoy it, or see very much of it for that matter. After customs officials finally cleared the group, the team departed (without luggage) on a winding bus ride through the city, eventually settling in for the night in Gamboa at approximately 11 p.m., local time. With 7:30 a.m. wake-up calls, the team headed back to the airport for the 45-minute flight to San Jose.

    The team was set to practice tonight at its scheduled time at Ricardo Saprissa Stadium, the sight of tomorrow's night match which will be televised at 10 p.m. (ET) by ESPN2 on a one-hour delay.


    Saturday night's qualifier against Costa Rica will be the Americans' 50th since losing 2-1 to Germany to end a historic run to the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals.

    In that span, the U.S. has used 72 players and compiled a 31-7-11 (.745) with 28 shutouts, outscoring opponents 88-27. The Americans have lost only three games at home in three years, falling to Argentina, Brazil and England. Of the seven defeats since the 2002 Cup, all seven opponents were ranked seventh or better by world governing body FIFA at the time of the match.


    Defender Eddie Pope is the has the most Worldl Cup qualifying appearances of anybody on the U.S. 18-man roster for the Costa Rica match. The 10-year U.S. veteran has 30 qualifying caps, good for third place on the U.S. list behind goalkeeper Kasey Keller (32) and midfielder Claudio Reyna (31).

    Five players on the roster are in search of their first World Cup qualifying appearance: defenders Wade Barrett and Danny Califf, midfielders Ricardo Clark and Kyle Martino, and keeper Kevin Hartman. Clark is the only one who has never appeared for the full national team.


    Midfielder Bobby Convey netted his first international goal against Costa Rica, his curling, left-footed strike just inside the near post in the 67th minute proving to be the game-winner in the third-place match of the 2003 Gold Cup on July 26, 2003, in Miami. The 3-2 comeback victory represents the only time in Arena's tenure that the team has won a match after trailing at halftime (1-13-4 overall).
    Rosters

    United States (team affiliations in parentheses)

    Goalkeepers (2): Kevin Hartman (Los Angeles Galaxy, MLS), Tim Howard (Manchester United, England).

    Defenders (8): Chris Albright (Los Angeles, MLS), Wade Barrett (San Jose Earthquakes, MLS), Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham, England), Dan Califf (San Jose, MLS), Eddie Lewis (Leeds United, England), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard de Liege, Belguim), Eddie Pope (Real Salt Lake, MLS), Jonathan Spector (Charlton Athletic, England).

    Midfielders (5): DaMarcus Beasley (PSV Eindhoven, Netherlands), Ricardo Clark (San Jose, MLS), Bobby Convey (Reading, England), Kyle Martino (Columbus Crew, MLS), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids, MLS).

    Forwards (3): Brian Ching (San Jose, MSL), Santino Quaranta, (D.C. United, MLS), Taylor Twellman (New England Revolution, MLS).

    Costa Rica

    Goalkeepers (3): Wardy Alfaro, Alavaro Mesen, Jose Porras.

    Defenders (9): Gabriel Badilla, Jervis Drummond, Leonardo Gonzalez, Luis Marin, Gilberto Martinez, Roy Myrie, Michael Umana, Mario Viquez, Harold Wallace.

    Midfielders (9): Randall Corrales, Walter Centeno, Danny Fonseca, Ronald Gomez, Carlos Hernandez, Douglas Sequeira, Alonso Solis, Mauricio Solis, Jafet Soto.

    Forwards (4): Minor Diaz, Winston Parks, Alvaro Saborio, Paulo Wanchope.

    Robert Wagman is a SoccerTimes senior correspondent. E-mail Robert Wagman.

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