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Alvaro Saborio likely to miss World Cup qualifier vs. USA

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Costa Rica's fearsome strike force was dealt a blow when Alvaro Saborio was injured in training, likely ruling him out of Friday's World Cup qualifier against the U.S.

Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

Alvaro Saborio is likely to miss Costa Rica's World Cup qualifier against the United States on Friday after picking up an knee injury in training. According to Deportes Repretel, manager Jorge Luis Pinto said that he doesn't expect the striker to be available, which will be a boost to a U.S. team that is short-handed in defense and desperate for a win.

Losing Saborio would be a blow to Costa Rica, who like to run Joel Campbell, Bryan Ruiz and Christian Bolanos off of the physical Saborio. He helps bring the other trio into the match, and when you toss in his finishing ability, his absence leaves a big hole in the Ticos' team.

If the knock that Saborio picked up does keep him out, Pinto will have some decisions to make. The most similar striker he has to Saborio is Ruiz, who he prefers in a deeper role. Does he push Ruiz up higher and play either Celso Borges or Jairo Arrieta in the place Ruiz normally operates or go without a traditional center forward? Either way, you won't find many Americans weeping over Saborio's absence.

With Saborio out, and the possibility that Costa Rica opts to play without a strong central forward, Jurgen Klinsmann could go with a physically imposing defense and make the match ugly. Without a strong aerial presence, except for Ruiz, a U.S. team with essentially four central defenders and a midfield under instructions to foul whenever they give the ball away, the U.S. could turn the match into a set piece contest. That's assuming it's a tactic Klinsmann is comfortable with, which seems unlikely.