The last time that the United States and Costa Rica squared off was on October 14, 2009 in Washington D.C. It was the final day of World Cup qualifying and the U.S. had already qualified. The Ticos, well they needed to win to secure a spot in the World Cup. A loss would send them to a two-legged playoff against a very good Uruguay team. It was the kind of drama that makes the run up to the World Cup often times as good, if not better, than the final tournament itself.
In a torrential downpour at the decrepit, yet boisterous RFK Stadium, Costa Rica came out flying. The Ticos played with the urgency you would expect from a team whose World Cup lives were on the line, while the Americans looked every bit like a team with nothing to play for.
After 20 minutes, Costa Rica grabbed the lead through their star Bryan Ruiz. He put the Ticos in front with a goal and a mere three minutes later, they doubled that lead. With control of the match, something to play for and now a two-goal lead, it looked like the Ticos were well on their way to three points and the World Cup.
Time ticked on and Costa Rica still led, but after the hour mark the Americans began to show promise. Then in the 71st minute, Michael Bradley cut the Ticos' lead in half. The pro-American crowd erupted, seemingly urged on the rain as they sensed that the U.S. just might have a comeback in them.
Chances went begging for the U.S. and the Ticos were on edge, but they were also just seconds away from the World Cup. Then, on the final play of the match, Jonathan Bornstein headed home a corner kick to level the match at two. The comeback was complete and Costa Rican were heartbroken. They were so close to the World Cup, but now they found themselves on the outside looking in, while rivals Honduras went in their place.
A month later, Costa Rica fell short in their two-legged playoff against Uruguay. They were shut out from the World Cup that they were just seconds away from qualifying for in Washington D.C. Now they play the U.S. again. This time it is just a regular September Friday night in Carson, CA and it is just a friendly with nothing on the line. It's nothing like a qualifier with a World Cup spot on the line, but it will undoubtedly bring back that October 14, 2009 heartbreak to the Ticos who came so closer just under two years ago.