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Costa Rica 3-1 United States: Worst-case scenario as yellow cards, injury compound road loss

Sep 6, 2013, 11:58 PM EDT

Yeltsin Tejeda, Graham Zusi AP

It was about as bad as Jurgen Klinsmann could have hoped for, from before the start to the final whistle as Costa Rica thumped the United States 3-1 at Estadio Nacional.

Things started horribly for the USMNT, when they lost Michael Bradley pregame with an ankle sprain.  It forced Geoff Cameron into action, and the absence of Bradley’s calm and precise passing was evident throughout.

The match started rough as well. In the third minute the ball slotted through and fell to Bryan Ruiz all alone in the box, and he wasn’t able to put it in the back of the net, forcing a save from Howard.  The ensuing corner was beautifully headed in by Jhonny Acosta, taking a deflection off DaMarcus Beasley covering the near post and tucked into the back of the net for an early Costa Rican 1-0 lead.

Costa Rica continued to pinch and collapse their wingers forward into the box, and support them on the wings by launching their wing backs forward.  This flooded the box, and in the 10th minute Celso Borges beat the United States defenders in the air to bury another header past a flat-footed Tim Howard to make it a shock 2-0 scoreline early.

The bombing wing backs targeted Michael Orozco on the US’s right flank.  Orozco was a surprise start at right back by Jurgen Klinsmann over Michael Parkhurst or Geoff Cameron, and it didn’t appear clear why that decision was made.

The US barely had a sniff on goal in the first half, with their best chance coming off the foot of Fabian Johnson in the 27th minute.  The first good buildup from the visitors produced a low cross into the box by Zusi.  Johnson found it and unloaded a laser of a volley to the far post but a fabulous save by Keylor Navas turned it around wide.

Just as Costa Rica thought they were going into halftime with a solid lead, Navas took down Fabian Johnson in the box, who had been threaded through on goal. The ball skidded away, and what looked at first like a legitimate challenge was proved by replays to be all man and no ball.  The referee awarded a penalty, and Dempsey converted for a massive goal on his 100th cap to make it 2-1.

source: ReutersThe second half settled down heavily from the hectic first period, and it took 11 minutes for the first clear chance to rear its head.  Clint Dempsey found himself with space out on the top of the box, neatly cut back and forth until he had an opening, and rifled a shot that clattered the left post.

The United States possession looked cleaner and tighter as the second half progressed.  By the 70th minute, the chances had minimized but the United States were clearly in the ascendency.   It wasn’t to be for the Stars and Stripes though, as a clear miraculously found Joel Campbell who outpaced the center backs caught up too high and he easily slides past Tim Howard for a 3-1 Costa Rican lead.

Matt Besler soon received a yellow card off the ball, and he – along with Geoff Cameron, booked earlier in the match – will miss the meeting with Mexico early next week.  Jozy Altidore will also miss the match in Columbus, with an idiotic yet soft yellow for a shove in stoppage time.

The loss ends the national streak of 12 victories in a row for the United States, and means they drop to second place in the Hex standings, a point behind Costa Rica and two up on Honduras, who shocked Mexico at Azteca.


United States – Howard; Orozco, Gonzalez, Besler, Beasley; Cameron, Jones; Zusi (E. Johnson, 58′), Donovan, F. Johnson (Altidore, 71′); Dempsey (Johansson, 90′).

Costa Rica – Navas; G. Gonzalez, J. Acosta, Umana; Gamboa, Oviedo, Borges, Tejada (Cubero, 73′), Bolanos, Campbell, Ruiz.

  1. thereep - Sep 7, 2013 at 12:10 AM


    • gra42 - Sep 7, 2013 at 1:20 AM

      No, out-coached. Johnson and Beasley have no business switching places against top flight competition. Beasley is a midfielder who understands how defense works and he knows where and who to mark. That doesn’t make him a defender, that makes him an ideal midfielder. Johnson is a raiding fullback whose know-how moving the ball forward from the back give the U.S. the tactical flexibility to change a match that it has never, ever, had. That doesn’t make him a midfielder. That makes him an ideal defender.

      The set-up we had was working well for the first time since I’ve been watching US football, @ 1990. It didn’t need to be fixed.

      To some of you: Told you so. That was why Beasley is not a back and Johnson not a mid. You know who you are.

      • althomas39 - Sep 7, 2013 at 5:24 PM

        So Johnson and Beasley have been playing these positions for months now, and in doing so have helped us reach the longest winning streak in team history. They play one poor game as a team and THAT’S the reason we lost?

      • gra42 - Sep 8, 2013 at 2:22 AM

        Johnson started at midfielder for the first time last night. He played a half as a mid in our last game that wasn’t a qualifier, after starting the first half at defender. He has started at fullback every other time he’s been capped. That’s not what the writers say every time, but that’s down to their confusion about the role of a defender who isn’t one of Bradley’s ex-Bucket squad. JK has simply given him more license to move forward, and this is why our possession and organization has been off the charts this year compared to any other MNT since ’01-02.

        Just to make it clear again: Last night was Johnson’s first game as anything other than a defender on the MNT. See for yourself and get back if you find any differently. Just don’t reply with, “but he’s been so involved in the attack..”, or “there was a Yahoo article that said..”. Guess what? That’s a real international defender’s job. And I read two of those articles. I also watched the games and saw the line-ups in graphics, as well as the roles players had and where they were positioned during the matches.

        Beasley has had some games as a left back where he didn’t let us down, but what Costa Rica showed last night is what most international teams that qualify for Brazil will present.

  2. mkbryant3 - Sep 7, 2013 at 12:21 AM

    Fun game. We’ll be ok. Costa Rica is solid. I think Navas gets the MOTM edge over Campbell. Although the GK should have seen red on that penalty, he made some amazing key saves.

    Hex drama never disappoints! Love seeing Mexico suffer and on the ropes, but that makes me that more anxious about their visit to CBus. What the f happened to them? When their youth teams were winning, they were supposed to dominate for the next decade. Now, I don’t even recognize them.

    I love CONCACAF (well, except for the officiating which is offensive).

    Now my favorite part. Post game analysis for dayssssss!

    • gra42 - Sep 7, 2013 at 1:35 AM

      “When their youth teams were winning, they were supposed to dominate for the next decade.”

      Only Mexican tv commentators ever thought or said that. Mexico is always dominant at the youth level. They’ve never translated that very well into the national team success. This will happen again, again, and again.

  3. lunasceiling - Sep 7, 2013 at 1:01 AM

    Pre-match worry about the officiating didn’t really prove justified, though. Those were reasonable yellows, I’d say. Even Jozy’s seemed to be more for being an idiot with that shove than for the shove itself…which was pretty bush. I hope we’re not seeing a return to “Stupid Jozy.” Hopefully the Bradly injury is minor and we’ll have him for the game against El Tri. The team is so much better with him being the anchor.

  4. tackledummy1505 - Sep 7, 2013 at 1:02 AM

    Please stop playing Tim Howard. They guy is average at best and we have better goalies now in the system. I hate seeing this guy play in games where they’re against good teams and he gets beat on a regular basis. Time to turn the page on Howard and let him have his glory over seas, because he’s never really stolen a game for the U.S. ever.

    • lfan1985 - Sep 7, 2013 at 8:56 AM

      You should go back and watch the game last year at Azteca, where Tim Howard stole a game for the U.S.

      • gra42 - Sep 8, 2013 at 2:38 AM

        We almost played that match with three men: Howard, Cameron and Omar in the central D.

        I always have to wonder why JK didn’t repeat that central pairing. I almost wonder why he doesn’t just go with the Brazillian (’94 and “02) set up of three defenders and two wings.

    • supercoop8 - Sep 7, 2013 at 10:22 AM

      You must have missed the last decade where Howard has routinely bailed the US out in games where the opposing team held eighty percent of the possession with a constant shelling of shots on net. Your comment is so off base I’m not sure if you’re trolling or just started watching the USMNT this week because if you are serious I feel bad for you.

  5. mkbryant3 - Sep 7, 2013 at 1:04 AM

    Totally agree luna. Dracula called a fair game tonight. Really surprised (but happy) he had two yellows out for CR dives in the box. You don’t see that every day in CONCACAF.

    • gra42 - Sep 7, 2013 at 1:23 AM

      I almost choked on my food when he awarded the spot kick!

  6. rollingwheelie - Sep 7, 2013 at 1:08 AM

    Mexico has eight points, United States 13. If we win on Tuesday, we’re in.

  7. jimmycrackcorn99 - Sep 7, 2013 at 1:21 AM

    Sorry, but for a change this was a terrible line-up and formation. I know it’s easy to be an armchair coach, but the adjustment for the injured Bradley was poor at best. I hope this puts all discussion to rest about Cameron in midfield.

    • gra42 - Sep 7, 2013 at 1:32 AM

      And Johnson there as well. I think this game highlights the difference between skill and mindset. Jurgen should know by now, after playing for a nation that owes so much of its ongoing success to raiding fullbacks, that a midfielder who knows how to mark a little is just a midfielder doing his job and that a defender who can slip forward and shock a defense (Johsnon) is also just doing his job. Neither rates a position switch, but the opposite.

  8. snooppp68 - Sep 7, 2013 at 1:35 AM

    Hey Gringos; some cheese to go with the “WHINE”???? I listened all summer to the BS about the JV Tourney, i.e., the “Gold” Cup farce!!!!! Still winless in WCQ games in Costa Rica!!!!!

    • althomas39 - Sep 7, 2013 at 5:28 PM

      I don’t see anyone whining about anything. I see a ton of comments taking credit for the USMNT’s mistakes, blaming ourselves, and pointing out where we need to improve and how.

      If you’d like an example of whining, please see Costa Rica for these past 5 months straight.

      • chunkala - Sep 7, 2013 at 10:16 PM

        Funny thing is when the Costa Ricans wake up tomorrow, they’ll still be Costa Ricans. So, did they really win yesterday. #bananarepublic

    • gra42 - Sep 8, 2013 at 2:41 AM

      Fair enough. I enjoy wine and cheese. I’ll have some ready for our opening match in Brazil. Congrats to the Ticos. They are a real squad with a future next summer in the elimination rounds. Even if we had Bradley, I don’t think we would have won in San Jose last night.

  9. gra42 - Sep 7, 2013 at 1:40 AM

    So? Are you going to take back your sobbing about the “Tears in the Snow”? If not, quit wasting everyone’s time.

    • snooppp68 - Sep 7, 2013 at 2:01 AM

      X-Games are played in a blizzard, NOT Fütbol; it WAS and, remains, a FARCE!!!!! Little (3.5 million Costa Ricans) Costa Rica beats the BIG (350 million Gringos) U.S.A. and ya got yer panties up in a bunch!!!!! LOL

      • chunkala - Sep 7, 2013 at 10:19 PM

        350M gringos working towards increasing GDP. 3.5m Costa RiRicans sleeping and playing soccer. When’s the banana delivery?

      • braxtonrob - Sep 9, 2013 at 3:53 AM

        Quit whining about the ‘snow’ game; the referee gave CR a chance to call the game, and they CHOSE to play on. And, you know perfectly well why – because it was 0-0 at the time, and they figured playing in the SNOW was their best chance to steal a WIN in the US.

        Their plan backfired, big time, and they lost any chance of playing for a draw, at a later date, in better conditions.
        The people who set the date for that game should be shot, but live and learn, … much the way JK learned MUCH about that horrendous lineup he threw out there at San Jose.

        CR is legitimately good, but if you think you’ve seen the best the US has to give, you could not be more ridiculously wrong.

  10. jumpingnots - Sep 7, 2013 at 1:54 AM

    This game was a nightmare two screwups on the defence in the first 9 min,also Howard did not move that much to get to the ball also on number three the defence was at fault and outrunned.
    Yes I also think it’s retirement time for Howard, in the offence we did not see anything today.
    the way this team played today we have no business going ‘for the world cup.

    • merinarj21 - Sep 7, 2013 at 5:19 PM

      I think you’re being a little harsh. They had won 12 games in a row leading up to this point. Half those games were in the world cup but they have looked pretty consistent. It’s just hard to lose your best player right before the match starts. They didn’t have any time to adjust and Klinsmann didn’t make the right changes. I would have put Beckerman or Diskerud in instead. They had some good plays but every time the ball came to the middle they came apart. Bradley is/was that man. I feel like if he was playing Dempsey and Donovan would’ve had a lot more link ups. They had a couple of really nice combinations.

  11. futbol247365 - Sep 7, 2013 at 7:28 AM

    Yeah, nice field you got there “essay”. Really something to be proud of. Have fun puffing your chest out for a day because you won a home game. We’ll see who is on top of the group at the end.

    • snooppp68 - Sep 7, 2013 at 5:21 PM

      Hey, RACISTA!!!!! I’m a gringo, too, just not fitting the “Ugly American” stereotype that “IDIOTAS” like you perpetuate!!!! That, by the way, would be “ESSE”, but a Tico wouldn’t understand it, since it’s a Mexican term. They didn’t let you take Spanish, in your Special Education classes, did they?????

  12. jucam1 - Sep 7, 2013 at 7:55 AM

    Some day the USMT will make the right decision and lobby Conembol to be in that region, it’ll hurt at first and it’ll miss a cup or two, but then the US would finally play good world competition and grow to its destined heights….. Losing to CR is as or more embarrassing than what Mexico is doing…. But Mexico is the perfect example, always goes to the cup because they play no one in qualifying, then they get there and get owned by the great teams. It’s nice for CR to have a big win and they shouldn’t have played in the snow the last game, but a country that size should be two classes below the US, at this point and frankly they got manhandled today by a team that is insignificant globally

    • boscoesworld - Sep 7, 2013 at 9:24 AM

      Not hardly as embarrassing as losing at home to a country two classes below. Losing in a sewer with fans throwing urine on you is not quite worse.

  13. footballer4ever - Sep 7, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    Fellow US National Football fans, let’s not fret or worry about this away loss. What better motivation than to qualify to the WC at home in Columbus against Mexico team hoping for a miracle?

    To those Costa Rican fans who are puffing about this win against the USA, don’t pound your chest too hard because anything can happen in the remaining 3 games.

    To those few still making comparisons of country population in relationship to football, let’s just say you don’t know much about football, but you are still welcome to give pit your meaningless opinions.

    • merinarj21 - Sep 7, 2013 at 5:20 PM

      I think the competition to beat is Honduras. CRC will have a tough time playing against them.

    • snooppp68 - Sep 7, 2013 at 5:23 PM

      We’re only responding to the BS that you cocky gringos foisted upon us all summer, because of the JV, “Gold” Cup you won!!!!

  14. jucam1 - Sep 7, 2013 at 4:47 PM

    If you want to make yourself feel better by mocking my comment cause your weak Klinnsman’s lost to a country with 1% of your population then great, but I know plenty about this game and population size vs Football history. STILL I say genius, the US should never lose to CR…. Now can you just allow the adults to comment and explain why the US needs a larger long term plan instead of making your simple minded sad comments that would be great…. The goal here is to find a way where this team doesn’t embarrass itself like you did…. Play better competition and get better!

    • snooppp68 - Sep 7, 2013 at 5:25 PM

      Very good, Jucam1; don’t know if that BABOSO will understand FACTS, instead of his ignorance!!!! Viva LA SELE!!!!!

  15. tr3y11 - Sep 7, 2013 at 5:46 PM

    Good showing how classless you Ticos fans truly are. Whining? Like previously said, you guys whined and complained for 5 months over that game. We just got simply outplayed. Any other day, we couldve won this game. We have thd bette team and players, just got outplayed last night. Good job

  16. footballer4ever - Sep 8, 2013 at 12:57 AM

    Costa Ricans, what’s up with your “pura vida” motto….you’ve gone so hateful lately that your motto should be “Pu7a Vida”

  17. braxtonrob - Sep 9, 2013 at 3:38 AM

    If Howard is our GK’r in Brazil, we’ll lose; if Guzan is named #1, we’ll win at least 3 games – I guarantee it.

    Howard comes out often because he knows he’s lost ‘it’, and his reaction time is old and pathetic now. He used to be absolutely SENSATIONAL, but that was back around ’02, ever since, its been a steep downward slide to ineptitude.

    Guzan is, BY FAR, the best American GK’r going, and has earned a shot. The timing could not be better, and he will have a run as good (if not better) as Brad Friedel in ’02. IF given the chance!!

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