*While the United States and Costa Rica tangle in a friendly tonight at Home Depot Center (11 p.m. ET on ESPN2, Galavision and ESPN3.com), many other CONCACAF teams are engaged in more serious matters: 2014 World Cup qualifying. The second round begins today, with the Americans most keen about the results from groups E and F as the winner of each of those quartets will join the USA and Jamaica in the semifinal round next summer. The favorites are Guatemala (E) and Haiti (F). Today Guatemala hosts St. Vincent & Grenadines while Haiti welcomes the U.S. Virgin Islands. D.C. United’s Dwayne De Rosario, the MLS player of the month for August, leads Canada’s campaign against St. Lucia. For all the groups and matches, click here.
*The United States has already finalized one friendly in October (Honduras in Miami) and is close to locking in a second, against Ecuador. Initial reports placed the match in Connecticut, but the Insider has learned that location isn’t accurate and the game will be held elsewhere on the East Coast. The USSF is also negotiating two matches in November; both are almost certain to take place overseas.
*Off to a 2-0-0 start for the first time since 2006, the University of Maryland will host Stanford (0-1-0) at Ludwig Field tonight (7:30 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer Channel). The Maryland women’s team (3-0-1) will precede the men’s match at 4 p.m., when it faces Saint Louis (1-2-0). Combined, the Maryland squads boast a 19-1 goal difference.
*Elsewhere on the local college scene, American Coach Todd West earned his 100th career victory in a 3-2 triumph over George Washington in the opener of the 11th annual D.C. College Cup in Fairfax, Va. In the second match, George Mason mauled Howard, 9-0. The tournament continues Saturday with GW facing Howard at 5 p.m., and AU and GMU at 7:30.
*Commonwealth rivals Virginia and Virginia Tech are both entered in the Hokie Invitational, but as ACC members scheduled to play a league match later this season, won’t face one another in Blacksburg this weekend. Wisconsin and Cincinnati are the opponents for each side.