The U.S. men’s national soccer team will play Costa Rica in a World Cup qualifier in Harrison, New Jersey, on Friday at 6:55 p.m. ET, hoping to add another win en route to Russia in 2018. The U.S. beat Costa Rica, 2-0, in the Gold Cup semifinal in July, and they’d love a similar result Friday night.
The U.S. has fared well under Bruce Arena, who has steadied the club after the up-and-down tenure of Jurgen Klinsmann. Both men know soccer, of course, but it appears Arena might be more in-tune with his players and more willing to give them the freedom and flexibility that professionals covet.
“I think that might be the biggest thing: just being treated in that way,” U.S. men’s national team defender Omar Gonzalez said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “We all know that what we’re doing is very important, and we’re not here to only have fun. He lays down what he expects from us from the moment we get here, and we all understand what he wants. Then he just lets us go out and do our thing. There’s not a lot of pressure coming from him, and he has a lot of confidence. When you have that confidence coming down from him, it makes everything a whole lot easier. I just think camps are a lot more enjoyable these days.”
Gonzalez, 28, has played for the national team since 2010. He represented the U.S. in the 2014 World Cup and two Gold Cups, among other highlights.
Playing for the U.S. has been a dream-come-true for the Dallas native.
“I am a Mexican-American. My parents were born in Mexico, but I was born in the U.S., and I’ve always felt myself as being American,” Gonzalez said. “I grew up here, I went to my school here, I started playing soccer here – I did everything here. Since I was really young, going to the World Cup in ’94, I said to my mom that I want to play for the U.S. in a World Cup one day. It’s just always been my dream to represent my country and to give everything I have. That’s why I felt like I’ve wanted to represent the U.S. I’m thrilled and I’m honored to be able to step out on the field and put on that jersey.”