Costa Rica's home stadium is one of the most menacing in CONCACAF and provides one of the most difficult atmospheres anywhere in the world. At only 24,000 Estadio Ricardo Saprissa Ayama is just over 1/4 the size of Wembley and holds about 80,000 less people than Azteca in Mexico City. Saprissa is proof that the biggest stadiums don't always generate the most noise or most imposing environments.
The Ticos hold an outstanding record at their home ground and have posted an 18-1-2 record in all matches there since 2000. During this World Cup cycle Costa Rica has scored 16 goals and given up none at their home stadium.
Yesterday we noticed a jersey hanging in the rafters and instructed our ussoccer.com photographer to grab a shot. Turns out the number 11 is for former striker Evaristo Coronado who played his entire career for the purple dragons and holds the team record for goals scored (181)."It's a passionate environment," said Bob Bradley to media that had come out to Saprissa following the MNT's training session on Monday. "Obviously the Costa Rican people love the game and they support their teams."
"We certainly know the fans are right on top of the field. The game is usually fast and there's a real atmosphere and one that is exciting but challenging."Another variable at Saprissa is the artificial turf field. Installed in 2003, the turf field played host to its first World Cup qualifier in 2005 and is the only one of its kind in Latin America to host international games.
The U.S. played on the turf four years ago in 2005. Costa Rica took advantage of a U.S. team that had already qualified for the World Cup, beating the MNT 3-0 en route to securing their own passage to Germany.
This could be the last game for the U.S. at Saprissa. After opening in 1972, the stadium is slated to close its doors next fall when the new Estadio Nacional opens across town. While we won't miss Saprissa for all the trouble it has provided us in the past, it can't be argued that the atmosphere it generates is great to be a part of. Let's just hope we can sign off from Saprissa with a win tomorrow night...