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Pressure Finally Off USA

After 16 months and 18 qualifying games, the U.S national team has one game left to play. To the team's relief, however, Wednesday's game against Costa Rica at RFK Stadium will not have any bearing on its qualification chances. "It was going to [stink] to have to go to D.C. and get a result because anything can happen," goalkeeper Tim Howard said. "You never know. We are very happy to get it out of the way."

Despite the limited pressure, however, the USA isn't playing down the game. "We will give everything we have," said U.S. coach Bob Bradley. The Americans still want to finish first in the six-nation Concacaf group, ahead of archrival Mexico. A U.S. win would also do Honduras an immense favor, as the Catrachos (4-4-1, 13 points) need to win in El Salvador while the USA beats or ties Costa Rica (5-4, 15 points). If the teams finish with the same number of points, Honduras will advance on the first tiebreaker (goal difference in the 10 games). The fourth-place finisher will move to a two-game playoff against the fifth-place team in South America.

Many U.S. players are viewing next year's World Cup as a chance to redeem a winless performance in 2006. "We now have a chance at redemption," Landon Donovan said. "For those of us who were there, we don't want to go through that again. I've learned a lot and I hope [the team] has, too."


Read the whole story at Washington Post »

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