ARLINGTON, Virginia - The United States may have already qualified for next year's World Cup but they still have plenty of reasons to want to beat Costa Rica in their final qualifier, coach Bob Bradley said on Tuesday.
Costa Rica must win Wednesday's match in Washington, D.C., to guarantee a third-place finish and a ticket to the finals while the U.S. have removed the pressure by securing their spot in South Africa with Saturday's 3-2 win away to Honduras.
However, Bradley told reporters the CONCACAF group standings may affect the seeding in the draw for the 2010 finals.
"We don't know for sure whether it will affect seeding," he said. "But we believe that it could and therefore, in that regard, the game is important."
A victory would give the U.S, who have 19 points, first place in the six-nation group ahead of rivals Mexico who are a point behind and are also assured of a place in the finals.
Honduras, who visit El Salvador, are still in contention for the third available automatic qualification spot.
"When you look at the whole picture and you start the final round, it's the goal to finish first," said Bradley. "We take a great deal of pride in being the best team in CONCACAF.
"In particular, when you look at the final round, there are some things that show what our team is all about, like the 19 points.
"We had a result in Azteca (a 2-1 defeat by Mexico) that was frustrating to all of us. The response since then -- three wins in a row, two wins on the road -- are good indications of the commitment of our group."
Honduras, who have 13 points, will be hoping the U.S. are fired up for the visit of Costa Rica so they can reach the World Cup finals for the first time in 28 years.
The Catrachos need to win in El Salvador and hope the U.S. beat or draw with Costa Rica. If the two teams finish level on points, Honduras would progress on goal difference.
The fourth-placed team still have a chance of qualifying in a playoff against the fifth-placed side from South America.
U.S. defender Carlos Bocanegra said his side were determined to try their hardest against Costa Rica.
"It's not really fair not to give our best effort because if we were in the reverse situation we'd be pretty angry with the other teams (otherwise)," he said. "We have a job to do -- go out there and put our best team on the field and try to win."
The U.S. received some bad news early on Tuesday when they learned that 23-year-old forward Charlie Davies was injured in a deadly single-car accident in Virginia early on Tuesday.
Davies was in stable condition after surgery and his injuries were not considered life-threatening, a team spokesman said, adding that a person in the car was killed. NEWS: Davies hurt in deadly car crashcomments