U.S. MNT Falls to Costa Rica 3-1 in San Jose

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (Sept. 6, 2013) – The U.S. Men’s National Team fell victim to a poor start, losing to Costa Rica 3-1 in its seventh World Cup qualifying match of the Hexagonal. The Americans went down 2-0 inside the first 10 minutes of the match.

The USA now needs a win against Mexico in its next World Cup qualifier on Sept. 10 at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, combined with a Honduras win or draw at home against Panama to clinch a berth to the world’s biggest sporting event. The USA-Mexico game will be broadcast live on Tuesday on ESPN, WatchESPN and UniMas at 8 p.m. ET. Mexico lost to Honduras 2-1 at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City and is desperate for a result against the Jurgen Klinsmann’s team.

The USA will finish World Cup qualifying with matches on Oct. 11 against Jamaica at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas (5:30 p.m. CT on ESPN, WatchESPN and UniMas) and Oct. 15 against Panama at Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City, Panama (10 p.m. ET on beIN Sport).

The USA dropped to second place with 13 points behind leaders Costa Rica (14 points) and ahead of Honduras (10) and Mexico (8). Panama (7) and Jamaica (3) split the points in their meeting Friday night with a 0-0 draw.

The USA suffered an unusual setback before the game started when midfielder Michael Bradley suffered an ankle injury during warm-ups and was replaced in the starting lineup by Cameron.

Costa Rica scored just two minutes into the game, exactly as it did in its last home World Cup qualifier against the USA in 2009 (also a 3-1 win for the Ticos). The home team sent the sell-out crowd into frenzy after converting a corner kick.

Joel Campbell whipped in a cross and Johnny Acosta knifed through to win the ball with his head, beating Clint Dempsey to redirect his effort just inside the near post. The ball bounced off the head of DaMarcus Beasley, who tried to clear, but could not turn it out of the net.

Costa Rica doubled its lead on the cusp of nine minutes, and once again it came from a header. This time Cristian Bolaños ran onto a short pass down the left wing, cut back and lofted a high cross to the far post. Celso Borges, streaking from midfield, jumped high to out-muscle Beasley and powered his header back across the goal into the lower left corner.

After the poor start, the Americans settled down a bit as the half wore on and started taking back some of the possession.

The USA’s first quality scoring chance came in the 29th minute when Cameron ran onto a loose ball and with a hard touch took it into the left side of the penalty area before crossing into the middle. The pass was deflected by a defender and it skipped to Fabian Johnson, who blasted a first-time left-footed shot on frame that goalkeeper Keylor Navas saved only through pure reaction, throwing up his hands to somehow deflect the ball outside the left post.

Johnson was at the crux of the play that created the USA’s goal as he sprinted under a quickly taken free kick from Graham Zusi, who chipped a ball over the Costa Rica defense. Johnson did not get a piece of the ball as it skipped off the turf, but Navas certainly got a piece of him, scything the U.S. midfielder down at the top of the penalty area on a play that got a yellow card and perhaps deserved a red.

Mexican referee Marco Rodriguez immediately pointed to the spot and Dempsey stepped up to pull the USA to within one. The U.S. captain celebrated his 100 th match for his country with his eighth goal in this World Cup qualifying, blasting the ball almost straight up the middle but a shade to Navas’ right. Although the Costa Rican goalkeeper guessed correctly, the ball was struck with such pace that it ricocheted off his body and into the right side netting.

The USA pressed for an equalizer throughout the second half and Dempsey had a tremendous chance to tie the game in the 56th minute. After a Donovan cross from the left side found Dempsey, he lost a defender with a classic pull-back at the top of the penalty box and struck a left-footed shot that seemed to have Navas beaten but agonizingly clanged off the outside of the post.

Dempsey also had a chance in the 70th minute but did not quite get enough snap on his header from a Donovan cross, bouncing into the arms of Navas.

Riding a record five-game streak in which he has scored for the USA, forward Jozy Altidore entered the game in the 71st minute. Altidore had been bothered by a hamstring injury earlier in the week, but he did create some danger. Unfortunately, one of his most dangerous forays led to a counter-attack that sealed the game.

Just when it was looking like the USA could produce an equalizer, Altidore cut in powerfully from the left side and struck a shot that was blocked. Jose Miguel Cubero cleared the ball, and it turned out to be a perfect long pass over the top to Campbell, who was onside just in front of the midfield stripe. He took off toward the U.S. goal, outrunning and holding off Matt Besler. He took one touch before slipping the ball under the charging Howard and into the net from 15 yards out.

While holding the one-goal lead, the Costa Ricans defended with tremendous effort as they sat back to preserve the win, then got the goal off the counter-attack and salted away the two-goal victory, putting themselves in excellent position to qualify for their first World Cup since 2006.

The USA also saw three players shown yellow cards, which means all three – Cameron, Besler and Altidore – will be suspended for the Mexico game.

Additional Notes:

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

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Costa Rica
Date: Sept. 6, 2013
Competition: 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying – Final Round
Venue: Estadio Nacional; San Jose, Costa Rica
Kickoff: 8 p.m. MT
Attendance: 35,000
Weather: 68 degrees, rainy

Scoring Summary:   1      2      F
USA                               1      0      1
CRC                                2      1      3

CRC – Johnny Acosta (Joel Campbell)                                      2nd minute
CRC – Celso Borges (Christian Bolanos)                                  9
USA – Clint Dempsey (penalty kick)                                         43
CRC – Joel Campbell (Jose Miguel Cubero)                           75

USA: 1-Tim Howard; 21-Michael Orozco, 3-Omar Gonzalez, 5-Matt Besler, 7-DaMarcus Beasley; 20-Geoff Cameron, 13-Jermaine Jones; 19-Graham Zusi (18-Eddie Johnson, 58), 10-Landon Donovan, 23-Fabian Johnson (17-Jozy Altidore, 71); 8-Clint Dempsey (capt.) (9-Aron Johannsson, 90)
Substitutions Not Used: 12-Brad Guzan,22-Nick Rimando, 2-Edgar Castillo, 6-Michael Parkhurst,  11-Alejandro Bedoya, 14-Kyle Beckerman, 15-John Brooks, 16-Mix Diskerud, 4-Michael Bradley
Head coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

CRC: 1-Keylor Navas; 4-Michael Umana, 3-Giancarlo Gonzalez, 2-Johnny Acosta, 8-Bryan Oviedo; 16-Christian Gamboa, 5-Celso Borges, 17-Yeltsin Tejeda (22-Jose Miguel Cubero, 73), 7-Christian Bolanos (14-Randall Brenes, 86); 12-Joel Campbell, 10-Bryan Ruiz (9-Alvaro Saborio, 80)
Substitutions Not Used: 18-Patrick Pemberton, 6-Oscar Duarte, 13-Carlos Johnson, 15-Junior Diaz, 20-Diego Calvo, 21-Victor Nunez, 19-Mauricio Castillo, 11-Michael Barrantes
Head coach: Jorge Luis Pinto

Stats Summary: USA / CRC
Shots:  7 / 13
Shots on Goal: 4 / 6
Saves: 3 / 3
Corner Kicks: 4 / 2
Fouls: 9 / 13
Offside: 1 / 5

Misconduct Summary:
CRC – Michael Umana (Caution)                                 32nd minute
CRC – Christian Bolanos (Caution)                              36
CRC – Keylor Navas (Caution)                                    41
USA – Geoff Cameron (Caution)                                 62
USA – Matt Besler (Caution)                                       78
USA – Jozy Altidore (Caution)                                    90+3

Referee: Marco Rodriguez (MEX)
Assistant Referee 1: Marvin Torrentera (MEX)
Assistant Referee 2: Marcos Quintero (MEX)
Fourth Official: Jose Penaloza (MEX)

Budweiser Man of the Match: TBD