SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (June 3, 2009) – The U.S. Men’s National Team fell 3-1 to a spirited Costa Rican side in front of 19,200 raucous fans on Wednesday evening at Estadio Ricardo Saprissa in San Jose. Costa Rica used two early goals to take control of the game before adding a third goal in the 69th minute to put the game away.
A late penalty kick from Landon Donovan in second-half stoppage time provided the U.S. with their lone goal on the night. The goal was the 10th of Donovan's career in World Cup qualifying, tying him with Brian McBride for the all-time lead.
The U.S. will return to home soil on Thursday and have just two days to recover before facing Honduras on June 6 at Soldier Field in Chicago. More than 50,000 tickets have been sold for the USA’s third home match of the final round, where the U.S. will face the team who delivered them their last home loss in World Cup qualifying, a 3-2 defeat on Sept. 1, 2001, at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. The match will be broadcast live at 7 p.m. CT on ESPN and Galavision. Fans can also follow that match live online via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker and on Twitter.
The U.S. dropped its final round World Cup qualifying record to 2-1-1, while Costa Rica took over the top place in the six-team group.Costa Rica now has nine points through its first four games while the U.S. has seven. The remaining four regional teams, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico and Trinidad & Tobago, will continue final round action on June 6.
"As a group tonight, we came up short in every way," said U.S. Men's National Team head coach Bob Bradley. "I don't think there was any area at all where we were good enough to win a game against a good team. We were under pressure from the start. We fell short. We recognize that, and we have a quick turnaround for the next game."
With injuries to defender Frankie Hejduk and forward Brian Ching, the U.S. was without two of its most veteran players - both of whom have experience playing in the unfriendly confines of Estadio Ricardo Saprissa. Bradley opted to start in a 4-3-3 formation, and a handful of players were provided opportunities in the starting line-up, including Marvell Wynne at right back and DaMarcus Beasley, who got his second-consecutive start at left back. Jose Francisco Torres picked up just his fifth appearance and second start for the U.S. in the hostile environment, joining Pablo Mastroeni and Michael Bradley in midfield, while Jozy Altidore got his second straight start up top, this time working with Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan.
Bradley will be forced to make another change to his lineup against Honduras as he will be without the services of Michael Bradley, who picked up his second yellow card of the final round. The U.S. could once again be without the services of Hejduk and Ching for Saturday's contest as their status is still undetermined.
The U.S. got off to a disappointing start as Costa Rica got on the board in just the second minute. A clearance attempt by Beasley hit Torres and deflected the ball high in the air before eventually falling to the feet of Andy Herron. The former Chicago Fire forward played the ball square to Alvaro Saborio, who turned and split two U.S. defenders with one touch and then hit a curling shot with his second touch that sailed over the outstretched arms of Tim Howard and into the upper left corner of the goal. The goal was the second-earliest goal allowed by the U.S. in a World Cup qualifier, only behind a first minute goal by Carlos Hermosillo in a 2–2 draw with Mexico in 1997.
Costa Rica doubled its lead in the 13th minute when defender Junior Diaz made a hard run down the left wing. He slotted the ball into the box for Celso Borges who cut inside the penalty area, drawing U.S. defenders towards him before slotting the ball to Esteban Serias, who was making a run up the middle of the area. Serias did well to hit the bouncing serve with a one-time volley past Howard.
The U.S. struggled on the other end of the field, not dealing well with the poor surface which hindered their attempt to build any sort of attack. With limited chances, the U.S. took only two shots in the first half, neither of which were on target.
The U.S. came out determined to get something on frame in the second half, unleashing nine shots, but Costa Rica was able to put the game away with a third goal in the 69th minute. Pablo Herrera received the ball from Walter Centeno on the right side of the penalty area and turned towards goal. With the U.S. defenders giving him too much space and time, Herrera fired a low shot that sneaked inside the right post from about 10 yards out. The three goals on the night were the first allowed by Howard since a 6-1 win against Cuba on Oct. 11, 2008. It was the first time the U.S. has allowed three goals in a game since Sept. 9, 2007 in a 2-4 loss to then No. 1-ranked Brazil.
The U.S. finally got on the board in second-half stoppage time. Wynne took a long throw in into the area and defender Oguchi Onyewu was pulled down by Diaz as he made an attempt for the ball. Donovan stepped up and hit his shot low and to the left, past Keylor Navas and into the net. The goal, the 38th of Donovan’s career, was the first scored by the U.S. in Costa Rica since July 23, 2000 and the first scored by Donovan in final round qualifying.
The U.S. used all three of its substitutions on the night, including bringing on Sacha Kljestan at halftime for Torres as the team switched to a 4-4-2. Freddy Adu earned his first appearance in the final round of qualifying, coming into the midfield for Pablo Mastroeni in the 63rd minute. Charlie Davies came on for Clint Dempsey, who earned his 50th career appearance on the night, with 10 minutes remaining.
Match: United States vs. Costa Rica
Date: June 3, 2009
Competition: FIFA World Cup Qualifying; Final Round
Venue: Estadio Ricardo Saprissa; San Jose, Costa Rica
Kickoff: 8:06 p.m. MT
Weather: Partly cloudy, 70 degrees
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 1 1
CRC 2 1 3
CRC – Alvaro Saborio (Andy Herron) 2nd minute
CRC – Celso Borges (Esteban Sirias) 13
CRC – Pablo Herrera (Walter Centeno) 69
USA – Landon Donovan (penalty kick) 92+
USA: 1-Tim Howard; 6-Marvell Wynne, 5-Oguchi Onyewu, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (capt.), 7-DaMarcus Beasley; 4-Pablo Mastroeni (11-Freddy Adu, 63), 12-Michael Bradley, 9-José Francisco Torres (16-Sacha Kljestan, 46); 8-Clint Dempsey (15-Charlie Davies, 80), 10-Landon Donovan, 17-Jozy Altidore
Subs not used: 18-Brad Guzan, 2-Ricardo Clark, 13-Jonathan Bornstein, 14-Jay DeMerit
Head Coach: Bob Bradley
CRC: 1-Keylor Navas; 15-Harold Wallace (2-Pablo Herrera, 56), 4-Michael Umana, 3-Freddy Fernandez, 17-Junior Diaz; 7-Andy Herron (6-Cristian Bolanos, 72), 5-Celso Borges, 10-Walter Centeno, 8-Esteban Sirias; 11-Bryan Ruiz, 9-Alvaro Saborio (16-Carlos Hernandez, 77)
Subs not used: 18-Ricardo Gonzalez, 12-Andy Furtado, 13-Gonzalo Segares, 14-Armando Alonso
Head Coach: Rodrigo Kenton
Stats Summary: USA / CRC
Shots: 11 / 8
Shots on Goal: 2 / 6
Saves: 3 / 1
Corner Kicks: 3 / 5
Fouls: 14 / 15
Offside: 0 / 3
CRC – Freddy Fernandez (caution) 30th minute
USA - Michael Bradley (caution) 54
USA – Sacha Kljestan (caution) 66
CRC – Pablo Herrera (caution) 67
CRC – Junior Diaz (caution) 91+
Referee: Neal Brizan (TRI)
Assistant Referee 1: Joseph Taylor (TRI)
Assistant Referee 2: Michael Ragoonath (TRI)
Fourth Official: Geoffrey Hospedales (TRI)
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