Saturday, June 20, 2009
Costa Rica: 3 U.S.: 1
The score of the Costa Rica vs. U.S. world cup qualifying game (in case anyone's following it) was 3:1. Costa Rica won solidly, scoring their first goal in the first minute of the game and getting a solid 3 point lead before the U.S. got a sympathy goal from a penalty near the end of the game.
I was pretty excited to be able to watch the game at the stadium here in Costa Rica. My host brother and I and some language students got the cheapest tickets we could, which situated us behind the south-side goal. Turns out the location we sat in is notorious for having the roudiest, craziest fans. Sure enough, we were crammed shoulder to shoulder with a blob of people that moved and screamed their support/ridicule as one. Several times during the game this shook the cement stands we were on. It was quite a cool experience. I recognized some of the traditional sports cheers (Olé, la ola [the wave]), but learned lots of new ones. I also learned lots of important vocabulary, many words we DIDN'T learn at language school, very useful terms for sports matches and to use when someone cuts you off in traffic. One of these words was appended to every U.S. player's name as it was announced when they first came onto the field. However, it was cool how when announcing the Costa Rican players, the announcer didn't even say the last name - the audience screamed it in unison.
The Costa Rican's were pretty proud of their victory. Understandably so. It put them in first place in the CONCACAF section, the North American section fighting to qualify for the World Cup in South Africa next June 2010. At this point they're the only undefeated team in their division. So... they're doing pretty good. Really good.
I don't follow soccer too closely. My host brother Jonathan does, though. He enjoyed the game a lot. Seeing it the stadium kind of made it come alive for me. It's kind of cool how pervasive the soccer following is in the culture. A few days later Costa Rica played Trinidad and Tobago. I was in the food court at a mall waiting for a movie to start, and everyone in the room was glued to the TV coverage, all cheering or sucking in their breath as the teams took close shots on the goals.
I think Costa Rica will play the U.S. on U.S. soil in a few months here. Stay posted.