Originally published Oct. 13, 2015.
It was the third day of spring in 2013, but the weather in Denver looked more like the middle of winter.
For the first time in 16 years on that date, blizzard-like conditions rolled over Dick’s Sporting Goods Park hours before the U.S. took on Costa Rica in the second match of the 2014 World Cup Qualifying final round.
Returning home after beginning the “Hex” with a 2-1 defeat at Honduras, the U.S. faced a Costa Rica side that held a five-game unbeaten streak over the Americans – the longest for either side in the series.
Though the cold conditions would appear to favor the MNT, with a layer of snow covering the field at kickoff there was little advantage to be had and certainly no pretty soccer to be played. Instead, it seemed likely a lucky bounce would decide the match – both teams just hoped they would be the benefactor.
It came for the U.S. in the 16th minute when Jozy Altidore’s shot from the top of the 18 deflected off a Costa Rican defender and fell perfectly for Clint Dempsey eight yards out from goal. With Ticos ‘keeper Keylor Navas reacting to the initial shot, Dempsey tapped home the game’s lone goal.
“I think the key to the win was to get an early goal,” said Dempsey post-game. “That gave us the confidence to keep going and it also put them on the back foot.
“I’m glad we scored early,” said MNT left back DaMarcus Beasley. “If we had to get a goal in those conditions in the second half, it would have been difficult.”
Though the game was tight, the team did see a clear penalty shout from Dempsey go uncalled by referee Joel Aguilar in the 42nd minute.
At halftime, stadium and U.S. Soccer staff did their best to clear the field of the collected snow, but their efforts were clearly covered up again as the second half got under way.
There, the MNT averted disaster twice. The first as conditions became so bad that Aguilar halted the game in the 55th minute to confer with the FIFA Match Commissioner about whether or not it should continue. A decision to halt the match would have cancelled out the U.S. goal and forced the two teams to play a new game the following day.
As they met, the grounds crew took back to the field to clear the lines as best they could. That effort would continue throughout the second half, with U.S. center back Geoff Cameron memorably helping to push one staff member as the heavy snow collected on his shovel.
Ultimately, taking the following day’s forecast into account and the fact that the two teams had another qualifying match three days later, the decision to finish the game was made.
Fifteen minutes later, Costa Rica thought they had the equalizer when former LA Galaxy and Chivas USA defender Michael Umaña appeared headed the ball across the line, but the goal was correctly called back with several Costa Rican players in an offside position.
Putting balls high and wide, the MNT grinded out the final 20 minutes of the match, earning an important win that showed the team’s resiliency and character.
“It’s not ideal conditions to play soccer or knock the ball,” said ‘keeper Brad Guzan, who started in place of the injured Tim Howard. “In saying that, I thought we dug deep and you’ve gotta find a way to get a result, and we did that tonight.
In the end, the win also spurred the MNT on to a strong qualifying run, taking 10 of a possible 12 points from their next four matches and lifting the Gold Cup that summer.Read more
U.S. MNT Head Coach JURGEN KLINSMANN
”Obviously you saw that the Saturday night clash with Mexico was still heavy in the air. Their heads were full. It wasn’t a real physical question, it was just like we weren’t able to shake this off in two days, coming here and playing another game. It was just too much disappointment, but also just too much on their shoulders coming off that 120 minutes with Mexico. You could see through the game we were not able to create enough chances to be a real threat for Costa Rica. We wanted to try to give everybody minutes in order to make a little bit of a statement towards World Cup qualifying. Overall though you’ve got to go through that – it’s part of life, it’s part of your job. There’s not only sunshine days. We had a lot of sunshine in 2012, 2013, and 2014. Now it’s raining a little bit, and you’ve got to go through that. Maybe you have to go through a little bit of mud as well so we’ll do that. That was my message to the players – when you’re on the floor for a moment, then you’ve got to get up and we’ll start all over again.”
On where he stands:
“I leave that up to you to say where I’m standing. Obviously you’re disappointed. You’re disappointed with the summer, you’re disappointed with the Mexico game on Saturday night and any loss that you get on the way to the next competition, you’re not happy about it at all. This is also a part of a coach’s life, and when other people speculate about your role or your job safety, whatever you call it, then that’s fine. At the end of the day, I’m here, and I said the other day, I’m here to serve the U.S. soccer community to the best of my capabilities and give everything I have. They’ve got to go through stretches that are not so fun. They’re not so excited when there’s a lot of criticism coming from fans, from you guys, I totally understand that, but it’s also part of it. When you go through different cycles, you’re not only having good moments and I understand if some people are really critical because of the disappointment with the Gold Cup and because of the disappointment on Saturday and I respect that. At the same time, with everything that doesn’t go my way I get even hungrier to turn it around the other way. That’s just in me. That’s why I’m going to take this team and go through that. I’m going to look everywhere for younger players, hopefully developing and hopefully getting to a point where that transition that we’ve talked about for more than a year really happens and guide them towards World Cup qualifying and then also to a Copa America.”
On starting Tim Howard and who will be the starting goalkeeper when World Cup qualifying begins:
”He absolutely deserved to start tonight. He took his break and he came back and put himself in the waiting spot. I think over the whole 14-15 months, Brad Guzan did an excellent job. We have two exceptional, international caliber goalkeepers and we need both of them. We need both of them on board and that’s what I told them. Going forward they will probably rotate, then will there will come a decision if we play Copa America or Gold Cup, whatever comes up, where one starts over the other. For us coaches, it’s extremely important to have both of them. I cannot afford to lose one of them because he’s not getting his games or he gets frustrated. They are two outstanding characters. They are givers – both of them. They respect each other 1,000 percent and they help each other. Whoever is in the backup role pushes the one that starts and so on. Our job is to keep both with us for the upcoming years, because after that, there is a hole.
On if there is a number one goalkeeper:
“There’s always a number one when the game starts. Both ‘keepers are so experienced, they’ve been with the National Team so long and they’re used to adjusting to the situation. They know that it’s a tough one now for the coach. Every time a game comes up, I will talk to them and explain my thoughts. They’re very, very even and you guys know that. That’s why it’s important to go along with both into the future and they stay positive and that’s what they’re doing actually.”
On if there is an ideal starting XI heading into World Cup qualifying:
“There is always an ideal starting lineup, there’s no doubt about it, but what is ideal? We juggle injuries, we juggle schedules, and we juggle so many things that it’s really difficult to have the same XI every time. Some lose their starting spots in their clubs, then they’re out of rhythm and you see that right away in training that they’re behind because they’re out of rhythm with their clubs. You have to reevaluate every time you come into camp. There’s a whole reevaluation process in place. Do we coaches have an ideal lineup? Absolutely we have that. Unfortunately it’s never like that that you can say every time we’re going to go with the same XI. I wish that to be the case.”
Oh what he sees with the team’s rhythm:
“I see that we struggle to keep the ball, we struggle to have a combination and kind of rhythm of movement off the ball where you know where the other one runs, you put the ball into space and you know he’s running in there and kind of being a step ahead. I see that, but I also know what they went through this week so I’m not surprised that the game today went this way. It wasn’t a surprise to me because it was obviously a big moment that happened on Saturday night in the Rose Bowl. This is obviously something we have to work on. We have to lighten them up and say, ‘Guys, come on’. Get that spirit up again and start that process of movement off the ball, combination play, one-two touches and all those elements.”
On the possibility of seeing more of Bobby Wood:
“We will see. We are pleased. Six months ago people probably would have said why is he always helping that kid? And then suddenly came two goals in June and he starts now picking it up again. All of these younger players go through ups and downs, like obviously the team does now as well. You just got to help them. That’s what we’re doing. We help them to go through days like today. They didn’t score, but they learned a lot from that game today as well. He’s getting closer to sooner or later starting a game – he has already started games. It is a different approach for a younger player when he comes off the bench or when he has to start a game, because the weight on their shoulders is just a different one. That’s why we have to be patient with DeAndre Yedlin, we need to be patient with Gyasi Zardes and with Bobby Wood. We can’t expect these youngsters now carry the weight in bigger games. That process is just normal for us. We wish there would be even more of these guys and we can kind of bring them through. Sometimes there’s a step backwards and then you go two forwards. Right now we did two backwards, so we better hurry up and do a couple forwards.”
On how the Mexico game impacts his thoughts on the roster for World Cup qualifying:
“You see how difficult it was for them today, to be really able to shake this thing off from Saturday night. You have to put in the consideration the circumstances they went through the last three days. You still hope to see certain things from players, that they build a bigger case towards World Cup qualifying. You analyze it now, obviously tomorrow you watch the game again and you see who was able to do a bit more than the other ones. We go through that evaluation process all the time. Hopefully we come up with a couple of good signs there, even though we lost the game.”
On how he feels about the recent record going into World Cup qualifying:
“You’d rather have the opposite, there’s no doubt about it. No coach, no player likes to lose games, there’s no doubt about it. I can’t change it. What I can do is work even harder. Even if it’s a difficult moment, you’ve got to go through it, refocus, communicate a lot with the coaches out there and also with the players and get them zoomed in for World Cup qualifying. That’s part of our work and I’m confident we’ll do that.”
On if something more radical needs to happen with the group:
“We’re going to go through some rain right now and it’s not sunshine. Sooner or later, the clouds will pass by and we’re going to find some sun again. This is part of life. It’s certainly not part of my character to give up only because we had a couple of bad results – the outcome of the Gold Cup and the Mexico clash. That sits in your stomach, but that drives you even more. Is the question legitimate? Absolutely, that’s fine. I’m here to take the team through tough times, I’m not only here to take the sunshine.”
U.S. MNT goalkeeper TIM HOWARD
On where the team is at this stage:
“You have to take the good with the bad. We’ve been on a good run for the last couple years, and I think the year after the World Cup you’re allowed to experiment. That’s the time to do it. Yeah the Gold Cup means a lot, you get to the Confed Cup, but we’ve got to try new things. Every cycle is a rebirth. You have to shake things up, you have to try new players, other players get older, some of your best players who are top dogs today are going to be old as dirt in 2018 and not going to be able to perform. There’s that balance of getting things right today versus trying to bleed new guys in. It’s not doom and gloom. I think we’re a good team and I think in this region, we’re going to qualify for a World Cup. It’s not going to be easy, it’s not going to be hard as heck, but we’ll figure it out and get the balance right.”
On the competition at goalkeeper with Brad Guzan:
“I’d like to play every game. Brad would like to play every game. I think the reality is you’ve got two good goalkeepers. I would like to get my fair shot. I think he’ll give myself and Brad a fair shot. I think if’ we’re playing week in and week out at Everton and Villa. Again, we’re talking about balance. I think it’ll be fine. There’s no problem. Brad and I compete well, we get along well. I’m there for him, he’s there for me, so nothing changes.”
On the ups and downs with the National Team:
“The simple fact is we weren’t the best team in the world when we were beating all those teams and having great years in 2013 and 2014 and we’re not the worst team in the world right now. That’s fine. We’ll get two wins against St. Vincent, against Trinidad and everything will be happy again”
U.S. MNT midfielder DEANDRE YEDLIN
His thoughts on the game:
”It was disappointing. I thought we fought pretty well, but we gave up a goal and it’s something we need to work out.”
Thoughts on his performance:
“I didn’t think I played very well. We all have those days. I just have to watch video on it, see where I can improve and learn from my mistakes. That’s what it’s all about.”
On returning to his club and working to get ready for World Cup qualifying:
“It’ll be good to get back playing with the guys again. I know every day can be a day where I can prepare for World Cup qualifying. I’m looking forward to that. There’ll be some big games, and as you know CONCACAF is getting harder and harder. There’ll be some big games, so I need to be ready.”
On if the result Saturday affected the team’s performance:
“It was tough, not only mentally, but physically. Obviously we had to fly across the country – not to make excuses, but today we didn’t play our best game. It was tough, but you have to learn to deal with that as a pro.”
U.S. MNT forward BOBBY WOOD
On the team’s performance:
”I think we’re all just disappointed that we lost. We all wanted to rebound after that tough loss on Saturday, but we didn’t. We have to move on and focus for the next couple games.”
On how the loss CONCACAF Cup loss affected the team’s performance:
“Obviously we just lost on Saturday, had a six hour flight, coming all the way across the country and had little time to prepare for the game. It’s not an excuse, but I think a lot of us were still mentally down. It’s not an excuse, we came out here to win and we didn’t get the result we wanted.”
On how he positioned himself for World Cup qualifying:
“I always want to show what I can do. I’m lucky that Jurgen always gives me that opportunity, even though I haven’t always performed well. I’m glad that I could kind of help the team and I’m not expecting anything. If I get the call, I’m honored and if not I’m going to work hard.“
HARRISON, N.J. (Oct. 13, 2015) – The U.S. Men’s National team was defeated by Costa Rica, 1-0, at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. on Tuesday.
Forward Joel Campbell struck for Costa Rica in the 70th minute to give Costa Rica its second straight win against the United States.
The U.S. MNT next faces St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Nov. 13 in St. Louis to open the semifinal round of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Four days later, the U.S. takes on Trinidad & Tobago in Port of Spain.
Goal Scoring Rundown:
CRC – Joel Campbell, 70th minute: A nifty one-two put Dave Myrie through down the right flank. He slid a pass back to an onrushing Joel Campbell, who placed a low drive past a diving Tim Howard just inside the far post. USA 0, CRC 1 FINAL
Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
CRC – Keylor Navas, 30th minute: Brek Shea whipped a free kick to the far left post where Tim Ream tried heading back the opposite way. Navas responded with a reaction save.
USA – Brad Evans, 43rd minute: A slotted ball from the endline skided across the six yard box. Johan Venegas looked to have a clear shot on goal before a hustling Evans threw his body in the way to deny the opportunity.
USA – Tim Howard, 59th minute: Joel Campbell picked up a loose ball in midfield and bore down on goal. He hit a rising shot from 25 yards that Howard tiped over the bar.
USA – Tim Howard, 90th minute: With the U.S. pressing for an equalizer, Costa Rica found huge space for a counter and sent Marcos Urena in one-on-one with Howard. As Lee Nguyen closed, Howard stoned Urena to keep the U.S. in the match.
Next on the Schedule: U.S, MNT vs. St. Vincent and the Grenadines – FIFA World Cup Qualifier
Date: Nov. 13
Venue: Busch Stadium – St. Louis, Missouri
Broadcast information: ESPN2, WatchESPN, UniMas, Univision Deportes Network
Social: Twitter (@ussoccer; @ussoccer_esp); Facebook; Instagram )
- The U.S. MNT began the game in a 4-4-2 formation.
- Tim Howard made his first appearance for the United States since his record-setting 15 save game against Belgium on July 1, 2014, in the Round of 16 of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
- Brek Shea returned the lineup after missing the summer through injury, making his seventh appearance of 2015.
- Jozy Altidore, Tim Howard and Tim Ream all began their professional careers in New York – Howard as a former MetroStars ‘keeper, and Altidore and Ream with the Red Bulls.
- U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report –
Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Costa Rica
Date: Oct. 13, 2015
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Red Bull Arena; Harrison, New Jersey
Kickoff: 6:30 p.m. ET
Weather: 68 degrees; Partly cloudy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 0 0
CRC 0 1 1
CRC – Campbell (Myrie) 70th minute
USA: 12-Tim Howard; 3-Brad Evans, 20-Geoff Cameron (14-Ventura Alvarado, 46), 16- Michael Orozco, 6-Tim Ream (21-Jonathan Spector 63); 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 13-Jermaine Jones (8-Mix Diskerud 46), 10-Danny Williams, 7-Brek Shea (15-Lee Nguyen 72); 9- Gyasi Zardes (19-Andrew Wooten 72), 17- Jozy Altidore (capt.) (18-Bobby Wood 46)
Subs Not Used: 1-Brad Guzan, 22-Bill Hamid
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann
CRC: 1-Keylor Navas (capt.); 2-Johnny Acosta, 25-Kendall Waston, 14-Bryan Oviedo (22-Ronald Matarrita 54), 6-Oscar Duarte (Francisco Calvo 87), 16-Christian Gamboa (8-Dave Myrie 67); 11-Johan Venegas (26-Daniel Colindres 76), 5-Celso Borges (13-Oscar Granados 91), 20-David Guzmán; 21-Marcos Ureña, 12-Joel Campbell
Subs Not Used: 7-Elias Aguilar, 17-Luis Miguel Valle, 18-Patrick Pemberton, 19-Deyver Vega, 23-Esteban Alvarado, 24-Mauricio Castillo
Head coach: Oscar Ramirez
Stats Summary: USA / CRC
Shots: 5 / 14
Shots on Goal: 3 / 6
Saves: 4 / 3
Corner Kicks: 1 / 3
Fouls: 15 / 19
Offside: 2 / 5
CRC – Johnny Acosta (caution) 17th minute
USA – Jermaine Jones (caution) 37
USA - DeAndre Yedlin (caution) 56
USA – Brad Evans (caution) 66
USA – Danny Williams (caution) 72
USA - Michael Orozco (caution) 79
CRC – Kendall Waston (caution) 87
USA - Bobby Wood (caution) 87
Referee: Walter Lopez (GUA)
Assistant Referee 1: Rene Ochoa (GUA)
Assistant Referee 2: Juan Augusto (GUA)
Fourth Official: Jonathan Polanco (GUA)
Budweiser Man of the Match: TBARead more
An extra time defeat to its closest rival, while losing out on a place at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, was tough to swallow for the U.S. Men’s National Team on Saturday.
After a long day of travel from Los Angeles to Newark, N.J. on Sunday, the team began to move forward with a return to the training pitch Monday for their lone session ahead of Tuesday’s friendly against Costa Rica.
Undoubtedly, it’s a short turn around with little prep time, but with Tuesday being the team’s final match before kicking off the semifinal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying in November, the game gives players a quick chance to move on from the defeat and demonstrate they belong in the team that will face St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago next month.
“There’s always something on the line when you play for the National Team,” Jozy Altidore told ussoccer.com, “especially on the back of a heavy defeat, a heavy one to swallow against Mexico. That’s what’s great about soccer – the next one is always around the corner. Hopefully we’ll put in a good performance against Costa Rica and put our focus now on qualifying.”
Jozy Altidore holds of Danny Williams during a scrimmage as the USMNT prepares to face Costa Rica at Red Bull Arena on Oct, 13.
Having returned to the U.S. fold last month following a year-long international sabbatical, goalkeeper Tim Howard acknowledged that with the loss on Saturday and qualification looming, now is time for the MNT to put the last year in the past.
“The sky isn’t falling,” he told ussoccer.com. “This team is unified and we still have the resolve to want to get results and push for one another. We’re trying to pick ourselves up from the loss and make sure we get a result. Results are always important for the team, it allows you to feel good and November is about qualification and there are no more friendlies. It’s important that we have that mindset and that the senior players set the tone.”
With 104 caps, 29 of which have come in World Cup Qualifying games, Howard is the most senior of the 20-man U.S. roster. Still, following his year off, he has as much to prove as anyone after serving as a back-up to Brad Guzan the last three games.
“Every time you pull the shirt on, you’re given the opportunity to make a statement,” Howard continued. “I think you always have to reinvent yourself every World Cup cycle. Being a part of so many qualification cycles is a challenge because we know how hard it is. Us senior players that have been there before know it’s a gauntlet and it’s tough, it’s never easy.”
Though he’s far from the oldest player on the team, Altidore will begin his third World Cup Qualifying cycle next month, just days after his 26th birthday. Understanding the rigors of the two-year process, the striker agreed that Tuesday’s game against Costa Rica will be a good test before taking on the next journey.
“Every game is an opportunity,” agreed Altidore. “Every game with the National Team is a chance on the biggest stage to show that you belong. Is it hard sometimes? Absolutely, we’re human, but at the same time, going into this game, it’s another opportunity to showcase yourself, another opportunity to show the coaches that you are a guy that belongs in the heart of this team as we begin our run to the World Cup.”Read more
As the U.S. Men’s National Team returns to Red Bull Arena for a third time on Tuesday, three players on the roster also come home to a place that helped launch their careers.
Goalkeeper Tim Howard, forward Jozy Altidore and defender Tim Ream, at different times, all began their professional careers in New Jersey with either the MetroStars or New York Red Bulls before progressing to European clubs.
Howard began his career with the North Jersey Imperials in 1997 before joining the MetroStars as a 19-year-old late in the 1998 season, doing so while living in his childhood home in North Brunswick, N.J. He’d go on to make 85 appearances for the club, winning back-to-back MLS Goalkeeper of the Year and Best XI selections in 2001 and 2002, before making a high-profile move to Manchester United in July 2003.
“I had a great start in professional soccer and my career has been nothing short of a dream for me,” Howard told ussoccer.com.
Howard has remained in England the last 12 years, moving to his current club Everton in 2006. Though he’s made over 300 appearances in one of the top leagues in the world for the Toffees, returning to play in front of friends and family near ‘the Big Apple’ still makes him anxious.
“It’s always hard for me to come home because I get so nervous playing in front of my hometown crowd,” he said. “I’m just happy to be back here playing in a beautiful stadium. Red Bull Arena was only a dream back when I was playing for the MetroStars. To see the fan base they’ve created is special. I’m a Jersey boy – I always will be and it’s nice to see the hometown team doing well.”
Howard training with the U.S. MNT ahead of its friendly with Costa Rica at Red Bull Arena on Oct. 13.
A heralded prospect with the U.S. U-17s following at the World Cup in 2005, Altidore, who was born in nearby Livingston, N.J. began his professional career as a 16-year-old with the Red Bulls the following season, finding early success with the club in 2007 when he scored nine goals in 22 matches.
That summer he also led the U.S. attack at the FIFA World Youth Championships in Canada, where he finished tied for third on the tournament’s Golden Boot list with four goals.
After making his full MNT debut in November 2007, Altidore scored his first international goal the following February in a 2-2 draw with Mexico. After two-and-a-half seasons with the Red Bulls and rising international interest, Altidore made his move to Europe, signing with Spanish club Villareal. After loan moves in Spain, England and Turkey, Altidore found success with AZ Alkmaar in Holland, where he scored 38 goals in 67 matches from 2011-2013. After a move back to England with Sunderland, Altidore returned to MLS this season, signing with Toronto FC.
Being back with both the National Team and Toronto FC affords Altidore numerous trips to Red Bull Arena, which he always looks forward to.
“It’s always great coming back here where it began for me professionally, there are a lot of memories in this city and a lot of good times with the fans,” he said. “It’ll be great to come back here and play a game here in front of a lot of family and friends.”
Following a collegiate career with Saint Louis University, center back Tim Ream was selected 18th overall by the Red Bulls in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft. Ream would play 58 matches in two seasons with the club, earning his first National Team call-up in his second season before transferring to Bolton Wanderers in early 2012.
After winning back-to-back Player of the Year awards with Bolton, Ream moved to Fulham in August. Now into his fifth season in Europe, Ream credited the Red Bulls with setting him on a path to success in his club career.
“For me being a rookie in 2010 and coming into a quality team really set the tone,” he told ussoccer.com. “Having a manager in Hans Backe who really wanted to play a different style than what was played here before – a more European style – it fit me personally.
“You bring in a guy like Thierry Henry and he automatically brings the level up,” he continued. “That was the foundation for becoming better as a player and a person on and off the field, trying to do the things he’s done throughout his career – obviously from a defender standpoint – it put me in a position to really succeed, not only here but across the pond in Europe as well.”