World Cup Qualifying Preview: Costa Rica vs. El Salvador

Costa Rica and El Salvador will both be looking to respond after disappointing results on Saturday.
Who: Costa Rica vs. El Salvador

What: World Cup 2010 Qualifying Final Round

When: 10:00 p.m. ET, Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Where: Estadio Ricardo Saprissa, San Jose, Costa Rica

Saturday night yielded entirely different results for Costa Rica and El Salvador, but both teams will be looking for better results on Wednesday in San Jose Costa Rica. The Ticos could not turn around their fortunes against Mexico in Azteca and took a 2-0 loss to El Tri, while El Salvador played an inspired match against the United States only to give up an equalizer at the death of the match.

Back At Home

The 24,000 seat Estadio Ricardo Saprissa will certainly be a welcome site for Costa Rica. The stadium is a unique venue in CONCACAF that can be quite intimidating to visiting teams. While the artificial turf might play a role in that advantage, the home advantage of Saprissa stadium comes mostly from a loud and determined fan base.

The Ticos' last home qualifier was a resounding 2-0 win over Honduras in February. The win set Costa Rica on the right track, leaving them level with the United States after one match. Now, following the defeat to Mexico, Costa Rica will have to rebound against an El Salvador team that has been very surprising in its first two qualifying matches.

Repeat Performance

Most Cuscatlecos supporters would be happy if their team could repeat its performance of four days ago, but would hope to come away with more than a draw. For 60 minutes El Salvador was dominant against the United States, but a final 30 minutes where the team decided to sit back and allow the U.S. to attack proved costly.

Costa Rica will be a different sort of challenge for the Salvadorians. Aside from the obvious trials of a road match in CONCACAF, the Ticos offer a very different team mentality from the United States and Trinidad. Costa Rica’s attack relies more on quick passing and running off the ball than the direct style the U.S. likes to employ and while the Costa Ricans may not have as much size as the Americans, they are certainly a quicker team. The differences in styles between opponents and venues could be enough to drastically change the performance of the Cuscatlecos.

Players To Watch

Costa Rica: Bryan Ruiz. The 23-year-old is a world class talent that hasn’t shown his value thus far in the Hexagonal round. His skill on the ball and around the goal should come in to play for Costa Rica as they look for a complement to Andy Furtado up front.

El Salvador: Alfredo Pacheco. Although the side's attack received the accolades against the US, the defense did well too. FAS defender Pacheco was brilliant both defending and with the ball at his feet. His size and aerial ability will be necessary against the tall Ruiz. Prediction: After playing so well against the U.S. and losing two points at the end of the match a letdown from El Salvador seems likely. Add in a Costa Rican squad looking to restore some credibility and you have the makings of big victory for the home side.

Costa Rica 3-1 El Salvador.

Allen Ramsey,