San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Tico Soccer Team Wins 1, Ties 1

IT was a classic, corny sports flickfinish – Costa Rica’s national soccer team,La Selección, scored the tie-breaking goalagainst Panama in the last minute of Saturday’smatch in the final eliminatoryround for the 2006 World Cup.The ecstasy abated by Wednesday,however, when La Sele left Trinidad andTobago without a goal to their name in amatch tied 0-0.Roy Myrie, the heroic forward for theprivate soccer club La Liga Alajuelense,who knocked in Saturday’s unbelievableshot in the 92nd minute, prompted divinelyinspired headlines in San José dailynewspapers such as “God is Costa Rican,”and ink flowed for words like “miracle.”The Saprissa Stadium in Tibás, northof San José, was eerily quiet throughoutSaturday’s match. Only the sounds ofjournalists scratching in their notepadsand the clicks of sports photographers’cameras were heard after fans were barredentry by order of the Fédération Internationalede Football Association (FIFA).Costa Rica was charged 10,000 Swissfranks ($8,345) and forced to leave fansoutside the field after authorities werepowerless to stop an unruly crowd thatthrew objects on the field during the lasteliminatory round match on Tico soilagainst Mexico Feb. 9. The next homegame, against Trinidad and Tobago Sept.7, will not be restricted.The general mood of Tico fans afterSaturday’s dazed disbelief, and especiallyby Wednesday’s scoreless debacle,seemed one of contempt – both for thenear tie and the actual tie – and the armchairexperts talk of giving head coachJorge Luis Pinto the boot.Wednesday’s game in Puerto España,Trinidad and Tobago, was marked by LaSele’s refusal to take risks, with fewmemorable plays and fewer heroics.This final round pits six nationalteams against each other – Costa Rica,United States, Trinidad and Tobago,Guatemala and Panama – each of whichwill play each other twice, once at homeand once away.Costa Rica will next square off againstthe United States in an away game June 4.

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