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Sep 5, 2013

Rival fans' reception serves to fuel fire on pitch

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica -- Life on the road in World Cup qualifying is always interesting. Needless to say, our arrival here didn't fail to meet that standard in any regard.

There was no marching band when we stepped off the plane at Juan Santamaria International Airport. There was no Costa Rican equivalent to Mr. Roarke and Tattoo of "Fantasy Island" fame greeting us at the end of a red carpet with smiles and handshakes.

No, instead of leis, balloons and people waving tiny American flags, we were greeted by the Costa Rican supporters using their middle fingers to show us they felt their team was "No. 1" and others holding signs letting us know how they felt about the March match in Colorado.

Special treatment? There was none. Not that any was expected.

Yes, my friends, you figured it out. There isn't a whole lot of love here for the U.S. national team. But hey, that's all part of the atmosphere and gamesmanship that comes with trying to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in our hotly contested CONCACAF region.

Whether it is mentally or physically, every country is looking for an edge against its opponent. This is what you have to adapt to and deal with visiting any nation you have to play on the long journey to Brazil.

Like my teammate Michael Bradley said during his chat with fans on Twitter, all the stuff off the field just feeds our excitement and fuels our fire. It motivates us even more to put it all together for a positive result Friday that undoubtedly will carry over to our showdown with Mexico on Tuesday at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.

Speaking of our match in Columbus, I am going to be wearing special, commemorative adidas boots to pay tribute to my friend and former teammate Kirk Urso during the match.

Kirk was a Columbus Crew rookie when he unexpectedly passed away on Aug. 5, 2012. I was fortunate to become friends with Kirk when we played together in the U.S. Soccer Residency Program in Bradenton, Fla., so it was a shock when he left us so suddenly.

I thought honoring Kirk on the field he once played on in what will probably go down as the biggest match in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying history would be a great way to remember him and generate awareness toward what caused him to be taken from us all far too soon.

One of the best parts of all this is that someone is going to win the cleats I'm wearing as part of a fundraiser set up between my foundation and the Crew Soccer Foundation's Kirk Urso Memorial Fund. I hope soccer fans across the world will take part and help us generate more funding toward youth heart-defect research.

Until next week, best wishes to my fans, friends and followers. We will give our best effort in our red, white and blue in Costa Rica, and I better see you all in Columbus!