Having already booked their way through to a historic third consecutive World Youth Championship, the U.S. sent out a vastly different line-up than the one that took the field in the first two matches. The U.S. was without six starters from the team that had outscored the competition 10-1 entering the match. Landon Donovan, one of the team's offensive engines, left Trinidad early Wednesday morning to join the Men's National Team in Florida ahead of their March 28 World Cup qualifier in Honduras. On the bench to start were goalkeeper D.J. Countess (who was later named the Tournament's Top Goalkeeper), defenders Alex Yi and Philip Salyer, and defensive midfielders Brian Carroll and Kenny Arena (out with yellow card accumulation).
"I am happy because we came here to accomplish one goal and we did that," U.S. head coach Wolfgang Suhnholz said. "This team played well for two games and because of that we are going to Argentina. On the other hand we came out today and played rather flat and did not do the things I know we can do."
Although playing with a very different line-up, the U.S. offense did not take much time adjusting to the new faces, as Bobby Convey had two opportunities to put the U.S. ahead in the first eight minutes. Costa Rican goalkeeper Neighel Dormond came up with two saves on Convey, stopping his shot from 18 yards and minutes later somehow keeping his five-yard volley out of the net.
In the 42nd minute Johel Fajardo put the United States behind for the first time in the tournament with a blistering free kick from 20 yards. Fahardo's left-footed blast, taken just outside the right corner of the penalty box, bent into the upper left corner of the goal and all Doug Warren could do was watch as it curled inside the post. The free kick came after Brad Davis was whistled for a hand ball and immediately shown a yellow card.
The face of the game changed dramatically in the 49th minute when Davis was again shown a yellow card, and the U.S. was consequently reduced to ten men. The left-footer, who had scored two goals off the bench in the USA's first two matches, was shown his marching orders after tangling with Costa Rica's Carlos Hernandez along the sideline just in front of the Costa Rica bench.
The expulsion of Davis somehow awoke the U.S. squad, who quickly earned a corner. After the ensuing corner, DaMarcus Beasley found Kyle Martino near the top of the penalty box. Martino cut the ball into the center of the box, eluded one defender and equalized the match with a little help from Costa Rica goalkeeper Neighel Dormond. Dormond, whose only saves in the game came early against Convey, let Martino's 15-yard shot squirm through his arms and under his legs as he crouched to handle the shot.
Throughout the match, the U.S. were able to find an abundance of time and space on the wings as Beasley (the Tournament MVP) and Convey were too much for the Costa Rican defense to handle. But once reduced to ten men, the legs of the U.S. offense tired as the two wingers did. The second-half insertion of U.S. forward Edson Buddle put a little more life into the U.S. attack, but not enough to overcome the Costa Rican defense, a one-man disadvantage and the team's third game in five days. The rock solid play of captain Nelson Akwari in back limited the Costa Ricans chances when the U.S. went down a man.
Warren was only called on to make three saves in the evening, none more difficult that his save on Costa Rican striker Winston Parks in the 29th minute. Parks had a great chance after beating Oguchi Onyewu on the right wing and cutting into the box where he rounded Akwari and got off a shot from 10 yards. Warren, appearing in just his fifth match of 2001, did well to come off his line and block the shot with his right leg.
The U.S. finished the tournament with 11 goals scored, two goals against and a +9 goal differential, just one below Costa Rica's +10. Costa Rica tallied 12 goals in the tournament, playing more than half of the tournament against 10 men and only scoring two goals against an 11-man squad. With their undefeated performance in Trinidad, Costa Rica will advance to their fourth consecutive World Youth Championship. Only Brazil, Argentina, Japan and Australia have also advanced to each of the last four Youth Championships.
The results of this tournament are eerily similar to the 1998 CONCACAF Tournament that also took place in Trinidad. The U.S. team opened with a 1-1 draw against Costa Rica before storming to big wins against Canada (5-1) and Trinidad & Tobago (6-1). Suhnholz was an assistant on that team that went on to place 11th at the FIFA World Youth Championship in Nigeria, losing only to eventual finalists Spain and Japan.
Members of the U.S. team will regroup for a training camp in Chula Vista, Calif., from April 9-22, while the majority of the professional players will be joining their teams in the next week. The U.S. will learn their World Youth Championship opponents on April 26, when the Championship draw is held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In the CONCACAF Group A tournament that was held in Canada from February 28 to March 4, Canada and Jamaica claimed the other two CONCACAF berths in the World Youth Championship.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%GAME NOTES: At the awards ceremony following Trinidad & Tobago's 0-0 draw with Guatemala, the USA swept the awards, winning the Team Fair Play Award, DaMarcus Beasley was named the Tournament MVP and D.J. Countess was named the Tournament's Top Goalkeeper ... The U.S. wore an all-white strip in the match for the second time in the tournament ... The U.S. played with a slightly different defensive formation against Costa Rica, with Seth Trembly playing in front of a three-man back line instead of the flat back four the U.S. had been using ... The U.S. now boasts an 11-4-4 record in 2001 ... The team is an undefeated 4-0-1 in internationals in 2001, giving up only three goals ... Kenny Arena watched the match from the stands after receiving his second yellow card of the tournament in the 88th minute of the team's 5-1 win against Trinidad & Tobago on Tuesday ... The U.S. will return to the States on Friday afternoon.
2001 U.S. UNDER-20 MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team vs. Costa Rica|
|Competition:||CONCACAF Group B Qualifying for Argentina '01|
|Venue:||Dr. Joao Havelange Centre of Excellence (Tunapuna, Trinidad)|
|Date:||March 22, 2001 - Kickoff 5:00 p.m. local (4:00 p.m. ET)|
|Weather:||83 degrees (Breezy, Crisp)|
CRC - Johel Fajardo (unassisted), 42.
USA - Kyle Martino (DaMarcus Beasley), 51.
USA - 18-Doug Warren; 12-Ricky Lewis, 4 -Nelson Akwari (capt.), 3-Oguchi Onyewu, 8-Seth Trembly (2-Philip Salyer, 83); 11-Bobby Convey, 9-Brad Davis, 6-Kelly Gray, 7-DaMarcus Beasley, 13-Kyle Martino (15-Brian Carroll, 57); 16-Conor Casey (17-Edson Buddle, 52).
CRC - 1-Neighel Dormond, 2- Michael Rodriguez, 4-Roy Myrie, 6-Johel Fajardo, 7-Erick Scott, 8-Jose Lopez, 10-Warren Granados (12-Randy Araya, 72), 11-Harold Apu, 12-Randy Araya, 13-Jonathan Orozco, 16-Carlos Hernandez (9-Derman Moss, 77), 21-Winston Parks. Also appeared: (15-Alfonzo Alfaro).
USA - Conor Casey (caution), 11.
CRC - Carlos Hernandez (caution), 35.
USA - Oguchi Onyewu (caution), 40.
USA - Brad Davis (caution), 41.
USA - Brad Davis (second caution - ejected), 49.
USA - Kyle Martino (caution), 56.
CRC - Derman Moss (caution), 91+.