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US head to Mexico buoyed by controversial win

26 Mar 2013 01:16:53

US head to Mexico buoyed by controversial win

The United States head to Mexico for a clash of regional giants on Tuesday buoyed by their controverial triumph over Costa Rica in snowy Denver in a 2014 World Cup qualifier.

Costa Rican football officials were left demanding a replay after falling 1-0 to the United States on Friday in a match played in poor visibility on a pitch blanketed by snow.

Salvadoran referee Joel Aguilar briefly halted the game in the 55th minute before allowing the match to conclude -- a decision that saw Costa Rica Football Federation vice-president Jorge Hidalgo demanding he be suspended.

The Americans, however, were delighted to gain three points, and move into second place behind Honduras in the six-nation final qualifying group for North and Central America and the Caribbean (CONCACAF) region.

Three teams from the region will advance directly to the World Cup finals in Brazil, while the fourth-placed team will play off for a berth against top Oceania team New Zealand.

While the snowy conditions of Friday's match outraged Costa Rica, US coach Jurgen Klinsmann was delighted to see his players pull together in the difficult circumstances.

After they dropped their opener in Honduras, Klinsmann was under pressure, with one report prior to Friday's match citing unidentified US players as doubting his methods.

"It's about adjustments, dealing with all those different things. Fields, climates, all those circumstances and make the best out of it and get your points," Klinsmann said.

"I think it was a big step (Friday) to get those points. So we want to continue that way."

Despite the vagaries of the weather, Klinsmann said playing Friday in the Rocky Mountains should benefit the United States when they play at the even higher altitude of Mexico City.

"That's a topic that if you talk to sports scientists, there is almost no ideal time frame," he said of adjusting to altitude.

"How much it helps us at the end of day to adjust to higher altitudes in Mexico City, we will see that on Tuesday night, but I think every day on talking to these so called experts helps you. Any altitude helps you."

A trip to Mexico's Azteca stadium is always a tough proposition, and Mexico will be even more determined after squandering a 2-0 lead en route to a 2-2 draw at Honduras on Friday.

The draw put Honduras atop the standings with four points, followed by the United States on three. Mexico, Panama and Jamaica all have two points and Costa Rica bring up the rear with one.

Mexico went ahead 2-0 with a brace of goals from Manchester United forward Javier Hernandez in the sweltering heat in San Pedro Sula on Friday, but walked away with just one point.

The result followed a disappointing draw at home to Jamaica in their opener and Mexico will be keen to get a victory before the qualifying campaign breaks until June.

In Tuesday's other matches, Panama host Honduras and Costa Rica are at home to Jamaica.

Jamaica appeared on their way to a first qualifying win over Panama on Friday after Marvin Elliott headed in a goal for a 1-0 lead in the 22nd minute. But Panama's Luis Henriquez grabbed the equaliser in the 65th to give both teams a second straight draw.


AFP

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