Much to their chagrin, Costa Rica spent Friday in a Denver blizzard, but on Tuesday they will be back at home in San Jose, in comfortable temperatures. That's good news for the Ticos, who find themselves at the bottom of the Hex after two matches and in need of a win against Jamaica.
Costa Rica drew the short stick in the Hex draw, being handed the schedule that puts them on the road for their first two matches and having taken just one point from those two matches, they have a hole to climb out of. It's not an especially deep hole, though, because Mexico, Panama and Jamaica are all on just two points. Just one point out of third place with five of their last eight matches at home is a fine position to be in, but if the Ticos fail to beat the Reggae Boyz -- who are off to a nice start to the Hex, but many figure are still likely to finish bottom -- then the pressure will really be on Jorge Luis Pinto's side.
This match will mark the Ticos' first Hex match not at Estadio Saprissa in decades. No longer are the intimidating, bouncing stands feet from the pitch and turf (formerly patchy grass) working in Costa Rica's favor. Now they are at Estadio Nacional, where a track separates the crowd from the field and a nice grass surface will welcome Jamaica to San Jose, eliminating one of the Ticos' biggest advantages.
To be at Estadio Nacional will be a relief for Jamaica, who are still trying to make their case as a likely World Cup qualifier. Overlooked to start the Hex, the Reggae Boyz shocked Mexico at Estadio Azteca and came away with a point. Giving away a lead to Panama at home in their last match wasn't ideal, but they are still in a good place. A win, or even a point in Costa Rica may elevate them from upstart to legitimate challenger in the minds of many.
The injury to Nyron Nosworthy will make things tougher on the Reggae Boyz, who could have used him at the back, but an Achilles injury has ruled him out for months. Luckily, Jermaine Beckford's injury is not major and he is going to play so Jamaica will have him up front.
Match date/time: Tuesday, March 26; 10 p.m. ET
Venue: Estadio Nacional, San Jose, Costa Rica
TV: beIN Sport (USA), Repretel (Costa Rica)