While it wasn’t exactly a walk in the park and several miscues could have ended in a score or two for Costa Rica, there is a sense among the US that the team has found its stride.
“I think so far [it was our best performance],” said Jozy Altidore in the mixed zone. “I think we played a really good team, I thought this was one of the first real tests for us. I thought Costa Rica played well and we have to give them a lot of credit.”
What certainly aided the US on Saturday night as opposed to the previous four encounters in the tournament was being able to play indoors. Instead of dealing with the heat of outdoor stadiums in the midwest and southeast, the USMNT enjoyed the luxury of playing inside Jerry Jones’ palatial AT&T Stadium, which was welcomed relief after two weeks of suffocating humidity.
“It makes a big difference being indoors and not playing with all the humidity,” said Clint Dempsey. “With the grass being short you can play a faster pace style. The ball moves quicker. [Costa Rica] were tough to break down, they had a back five and were looking to counter, we did a good job of moving the ball and creating chances and trying to get some looks, so the team looked sharp.”
In addition to the auspicious field conditions, a very pro-US crowd also helped the Yanks deliver a positive display against a tough opponent in the Ticos.
“I thought it was a really good game. With a semifinal a lot is on the line, so I thought the atmosphere was really good,” said Michael Bradley to MLSsoccer.com. “You never know what you are going to get with these fields, but the field played great. Obviously the fact that it’s inside and air conditioned makes a big difference for the temperature and pace of the game, so I thought it was a good night.”
Heat and humidity are unlikely to be a factor in Wednesday's final in Santa Clara, California against either Jamaica or Mexico (9:30 pm ET | FS1, Univision, UDN). And after Saturday’s win, the US feel like they are peaking at just the right time and are confident heading into the final.
“We’re happy about winning today and we are thinking about the final,” said Omar Gonzalez. “There’s a match to go, the final, which is going to be the most difficult of all. We’ll be watching Jamaica-Mexico and we’ll be ready for whoever it is.”