United States stunned by Costa Rica on home soil, 2-0
Sep 04, 2017, 11:30
United States and its hopes of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russian Federation were dealt a major blow after a 2-0 loss to Costa Rica. "It's over with. We've got to regroup and get our team ready to play on Tuesday".
The U.S. were made to pay on the half-hour mark, when an inch-perfect through ball sprang Urena and the San Jose Earthquakes striker cut to his right and fired a shot past Tim Howard to put the Ticos in front. The United States has a squad that can compete against this talented Costa Rica side and the home-field advantage could prove to be the difference maker in this game.
There was frustration as well on those occasions when the US managed to get into the attacking third.
How many points should the USA need to qualify automatically?
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It was a risky setup with Costa Rica bringing a couple of quality midfielders going forward in Bryan Ruiz and David Guzman with a packed-in defense behind them, though it wasn't an unreasonable risk to take.
It was also a frustrating night for US midfielder Christian Pulisic, who missed several opportunities, and had a second half chance brilliantly saved by Navas. "The more that he went down that side, I was anxious about him slotting the ball near post because Timmy [Ream] was on his back shoulder".
"[Mexico] owe us one, don't they", Arena quipped, referring to how the USA bailed El Tri out during the last World Cup qualifying cycle. Minus the injured Joel Campbell, the Ticos threw out their strongest possible XI, set up in their 5-4- 1 and set out to soak up attacking pressure, press and then pick the United States off on the counter, which they executed to perfection.
There is a scenario that allows the U.S.to clinch its eighth straight World Cup berth on Tuesday at Honduras.
The goalkeeper - who plays for Real Madrid when he isn't moonlighting for Costa Rica - needed to have a strong game against a United States team that has been on fire since Bruce Arena took charge earlier in the qualifying stage.
They play at Honduras on Tuesday and close the hexagonal next month at home against Panama and at Trinidad and Tobago.
The United States men's national team has put themselves into quality position for qualification, but a home win today to Costa Rica would go a long way toward solidifying their trip to Russian Federation for the World Cup. I'd suspect that thinking could influence Arena to start Guzan more than what Howard did to contribute to Costa Rica's first goal on Friday. Remember what happened in 2013, when the U.S.'s Graham Zusi scored a late goal in Panama that saved Mexico from World Cup elimination (even though the US had already qualified)? Just after this play, Altidore was shown a yellow card. The U.S. defense was also badly exposed thanks in large part to their tactical setup, which left Michael Bradley essentially alone in midfield as a shield for the defense, with Darlington Nagbe and both wingers spending much of the match pushed high. Good to see he got time off from shooting Avengers 4. Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris deserve consideration too, especially Dempsey given his experience and ability to produce something out of nothing.
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