U.S. Takes Top Spot In CONCACAF Qualifying With 2-2 Draw Against Costa Rica

  •  After Michael Bradley Pulls a Goal Back in the 72nd Minute, Defender Jonathan Bornstein Scores Off Header to Tie the Match in the 95th Minute
  • Honduras Defeats El Salvador, 1-0, to Earn Third and Final Automatic Berth from CONCACAF to 2010 FIFA World Cup
  • Costa Rica Earns Spot in Playoff Against Uruguay, the Fifth Place Finisher in South America  

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 14, 2009) -- With a berth to the 2010 FIFA World Cup already secured, the U.S. Men’s National Team took care of one last piece of business during its 10th and final game of CONCACAF Qualifying, mounting a furious comeback that finished with just 10 players on the field while earning a 2-2 draw with Costa Rica on a rainy night at RFK Stadium. 

The draw, in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 26,243 fans, coupled with Mexico’s 2-2 tie against Trinidad & Tobago, gave the USA first place in the group. The USA finished the Hexagonal with a total of 20 points, ahead of Mexico (19) and Honduras (16), who finished above Costa Rica (16) on goal differential. Costa Rica was just 30 seconds away from finishing in third place in the group and earning an automatic berth into the World Cup when Jonathan Bornstein scored off a header from a corner kick by Robbie Rogers in the 95th minute to tie the match. 

The USA had fallen behind 2-0 midway through the first half, but launched a fierce comeback that included a 72nd minute goal from Michael Bradley, who finished a rebound of a Landon Donovan shot, and then came Bornstein’s dramatic header with the final seconds ticking away.  

The USA was reduced to 10 men for the last seven minutes of the game, plus five minutes of stoppage time, after defender Oguchi Onyewu went down in the Costa Rican penalty box with a torn patellar tendon in his left knee, suffered while he was backpedaling after a corner kick. He had to be stretchered off and, as the USA already had used all three of its allowed substitutes, the Americans played a man down the rest of the way. 

As the fourth place finisher in CONCACAF, Costa Rica will have to face South American fifth place finisher Uruguay in a home-and-home series to vie for a spot in South Africa. 

U.S. head coach Bob Bradley made three changes to the starting lineup from the side that defeated Honduras 3-2 last Saturday in San Pedro Sula to clinch a berth to South Africa 2010. Bradley called upon veteran Steve Cherundolo at right back, inserted Benny Feilhaber into the center midfield, and gave Jozy Altidore a run at forward alongside Conor Casey, one of the heroes of the USA’s victory in Honduras after scoring twice, his first two career international goals. 

Costa Rica came into the match with everything to play for as only a victory would guarantee the Ticos CONCACAF’s third and final berth. In the early going, Costa Rica’s desperation turned into goals as the teams traded chances but the Central Americans put theirs away.   

The first U.S. chance came in the ninth minute as the Americans counter-attacked off a Costa Rican corner kick. U.S. forward Jozy Altidore controlled the ball on the right wing and powered his way through two defenders before spotting Casey wide open in the middle of the field. Altidore played a long square pass to the streaking Casey, but with a wide open look at goal, he spun his 14-yard shot wide right. 

Two minutes later, a Costa Rican cross from the left flank was met on the full volley by Tico captain Walter Centeno at the right edge of the six yard box, but U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard was in great position to make the save at the right post and used impressive reactions to push the driven ball over the crossbar. 

In the 18th minute, flank midfielder Stuart Holden popped free on the right wing after a nifty back heel from Casey and chipped a cross into the middle to Altidore, but his diving header attempt from the penalty spot went skidding wide left. 

Soon after, Costa Rica scored twice in a four-minute span to rock the Americans. In the 21st minute forward Bryan Ruiz ran onto a pass into the left side of the penalty area, pushed past Onyewu then cut into the six-yard box. Ruiz was almost at point blank range when he squeezed his shot through Howard’s legs to make it 1-0. 

Just three minutes later, Costa Rica made it 2-0 on an unstoppable blast from Ruiz, who popped open just outside the penalty area on the right side after a nice give-and-go. The Costa Rican forward sizzled a world class 19-yard shot on a line with his left foot into the upper left corner, giving Howard no chance. 

After the Costa Rican flurry, the USA became the aggressor and, truth be told, the Americans were unfortunate to not score once or even twice before the halftime whistle. 

In the 28th minute Donovan took a free kick from the left side just on the edge of the penalty area, but his spinning service well punched away by Costa Rican goalkeeper Keilor Navas, who did well all evening to get his fists on the frequent U.S. services into the box. 

In the 32nd minute, Donovan had a direct free-kick chance from just about the same distance as his goal against Honduras last Saturday, albeit on the other side of the penalty arc, but he spun his shot over the top. 

In the 37th minute Donovan almost finished off a great solo run, lifting the ball over Costa Rican defender Luis Marin after collecting a flick header from Altidore. Donovan raced into the left side of the penalty box, but fired his left footer from a sharp angle over the bar from 10 yards out. 

In the 42nd minute, Altidore was taken down on left side just above the penalty area. Donovan touched the ball to the right to Bradley, but his low, driven blast was deflected away for a corner kick. 

The USA had two fantastic chances to score in the final two minutes of the first half. The first came when Altidore won the ball on the right wing with a powerful tackle. He played the ball into the middle for Casey, but he let it run to Donovan, who he tried to slot the ball into the lower right corner from just inside the penalty spot. Navas stabbed his left hand to the ground and made a fine save to smother the shot. 

Less than minute later, Donovan burst down left flank and cut a pass back to Altidore in the middle as his defender slipped to the ground. Altidore took a touch to settle, but his powerful shot from 13 yards was batted away by the charging Navas, who closed the distance in an instant. 

In the second half, it became clear that Costa Rica was content to defend its two-goal lead while the Americans attacked with fervor looking to pull one back.  

Costa Rica’s only dangerous looking chance after their goals came in the 60th minute as Ruiz fired low from distance, but Howard was easily able to make the save. Otherwise, it was a pretty much one-way traffic for the last half hour as the Americans attacked in waves in search of the group title. 

Bradley made all three of his substitutions in the final 27 minutes, sending on Jose Francisco Torres for Feilhaber in the 63rd minute, Rogers for Holden in the 69th and Kenny Cooper for Casey in the 79th minute. 

The USA finally broke though in the 72nd minute as Rogers crossed from the right wing. The ball was headed up in the air by Bradley and it fell to Donovan in the left side of the penalty area. He wound up on a defender, cut the ball into the middle and then shot quickly from 14 yards out. The low shot was parried by Navas, but Bradley slid to power the rebound into the roof of the net with his right foot from three yards away. It was Bradley’s seventh career international goal and fifth in World Cup qualifying. 

Rogers almost tied the game himself a minute later as he ran onto a through ball in the right side of the penalty box, but couldn’t get enough on the shot to bend it around a closing defender and the goalkeeper, sending it wide right. 

The USA continued to push hard for equalizer, especially down the right flank through the tireless work of Cherundolo and the fresh legs of Rogers, who also sliced a header wide left of the net after a cross from the right back. 

In the 80th minute, a forced turnover in midfield led to a U.S. break and Altidore roared past a defender into left side of the box, but his shot under pressure flew over the goal. 

The frantic ending to the match featured the ejection of Costa Rica head coach Rene Simoes and a member of his staff, who both engaged the fourth official in a heated exchange as the game moved into stoppage time. Both had to be escorted from the field by security. 

The USA also had two corner kicks in stoppage time, scoring off the second one, despite Costa Rica implementing its best time-wasting tactics. 

On almost the USA’s last kick of the game, with more than four and half minutes of the announced five minutes of stoppage time gone, Rogers took a corner kick from the right side and Bornstein sliced through the pack of players to power a six-yard header off the base of the right post and into the net to tie the match.  The goal was Bornstein’s second career international tally, and first in World Cup qualifying.   

Seconds later, referee Benito Archundia blew the whistle and the shocked and dismayed Costa Ricans left the field in tears, while the Americans, champions of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying for the second straight cycle, celebrated wildly with each other and their fans. It was also the second straight time that the United States has edged out rivals Mexico to capture the group title.  

After the match, the U.S. players paraded around the field with American flags and many displayed messages of support for teammate Charlie Davies, who was seriously injured in a car accident early Tuesday morning. In the ninth minute of the match, thousands of U.S. fans positioned at midfield held up “9” signs in honor of Davies, who wears that jersey number. 

The match marked sixth time in 10 qualifiers that the U.S. had surrendered the first goal. In those six matches, however, the U.S. has earned 11 of their 20 points with three come-from-behind wins and two come-from-behind ties.  

The USA joins Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Spain and Korea Republic as the only teams who have participated in all six World Cup since 1990, including secured berths to South Africa in 2010.   

Fans who wish to follow the U.S. team to South Africa are encouraged to join U.S. Soccer Supporters Club, the official fan membership program for fans of the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Teams. U.S. Soccer SC members will have priority status to purchase 2010 FIFA World Cup tickets through U.S. Soccer, with access ahead of the general public. 

                                                                       -    U.S. Men's National Team Match Report  -

Match: United States vs. Costa Rica
Date: October 14, 2009
Competition: FIFA World Cup Qualifier – Final Round
Venue: RFK Stadium – Washington, D.C.
Kickoff: 8 p.m.ET
Attendance: 26,243
Weather: 45 degrees, rain

Scoring Summary:     1     2     F
USA                             0     2     2
CRC                             2     0     2

CRC – Bryan Ruiz (Michael Barrantes)              21st minute
CRC – Bryan Ruiz (Walter Centeno)                 24
USA – Michael Bradley                                   72
USA – Jonathan Bornstein (Robbie Rogers)      90+5

USA: 1-Tim Howard; 6-Steve Cherundolo, 5-Oguchi Onyewu, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (capt.), 12-Jonathan Bornstein; 7-Stuart Holden (9-Robbie Rogers, 69), 16-Benny Feilhaber (14-José Francisco Torres, 63) , 4-Michael Bradley, 10-Landon Donovan; 17-Jozy Altidore, 8-Conor Casey (Kenny Cooper, 79)
Subs not used: 2-Jonathan Spector, 13-Ricardo Clark, 15-Jimmy Conrad, 18-Brad Guzan
Head Coach: Bob Bradley

CRC: 1-Kelor Navas; 16-Christian Montero, 3-Luis Marin, 5-Dennis Marshall (12-Douglas Sequeira, 90+2); 2-Esteban Sirias (15-Junior Diaz, 74), 14-Randall Azofeifa, 10-Walter Centeno (capt.), 6-Michael Barrantes, 17-Pablo Herrera; 9-Alvaro Saborio, 11-Bryan Ruiz (13-Cristian Bolanos, 83)
Subs not used: 4-Michael Umana, 7-Rolando Fonseca, 8-Victor Nunez, 18-Ricardo Gonzalez
Head Coach: René Simões

Stats Summary: USA / CRC
Shots: 17 / 6
Shots on Goal: 5 / 5
Saves: 3 / 3
Corner Kicks: 8 / 3
Fouls: 14 / 11
Offside: 0 / 1

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Jozy Altidore           (caution)                   14th minute
CRC – Christian Montero     (caution)                   35
CRC – Alvaro Saborio         (caution)                   89

Referee: Benito Archundia (MEX)
Assistant Referee 1: Hector Delgadillo (MEX)
Assistant Referee 2: Marvin Torrentera (MEX)
Fourth Official: Haro Delgadillo (MEX)

ussoccer.com Man of the Match:
Michael Bradley

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MNT Oct 14, 2009