After the loss to Mexico, the U.S. Men’s National Team came into Tuesday’s match without a point and was looking for, hopefully, three. However, Costa Rica had never lost to the U.S. at home in World Cup qualifying, and nothing changed on Tuesday night. Though the U.S. was able to keep it close for most of the first half, it all fell apart after the 44th minute. And it fell apart bigly.
Abandoning the 3-5-2 that was employed in the 2-1 loss to Mexico, Jurgen Klinsmann fielded a 4-4-2 against Costa Rica. Brad Guzan was in goal after Tim Howard was injured against Mexico. Omar Gonzalez, John Brooks, Matt Besler, and Timothy Chandler manned the back line. Fabian Johnson, Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, and Christian Pulisic were in the middle with Jones and Pulisic playing up top a bit. Finally, Bobby Wood and Jozy Altidore were up front.
The field was wet and heavy and very quickly looked like a herd of horses had stamped its way across the pitch. Things got chippy pretty quickly as Ventajas ran into Brooks and everyone got a talking to, though things would eventually settle down. While it would be nice to think that the field conditions contributed to the U.S. woes, it was simply breakdowns in play and form.
From the beginning, usually defensive-minded Costa Rica was pushing more than they usually do. Guzan had a huge kick save against Johan Venegas in the seventh minute and the resulting corner was cleared out. The U.S. had a chance when Altidore sped ahead to get a through ball, but Johnny Acosta pulled on him and was cautioned in the ninth minute. Fabian Johnson’s free kick then went straight into the wall.
Only a minute later, Johnson fouled Bryan Ruiz from behind and earned a yellow. The following free kick was essentially a pass to Guzan. However, in the 14th minute there was a bit of mayhem, as Guzan blocked a goal with his face, and then got a little help from the back line to get it out of the box.
The Yanks had a chance in the 17th minute, when Pulisic was able to draw a foul just outside the box, while doing what he always does in moving towards the goal. Johnson took the resulting kick but put it just high over the crossbar. The U.S. would continue to press in the 20th minute, as Pulisic made a great move to cross, but it was just too close to the keeper to allow another foot to find the ball.
Costa Rica grabbed the advantage again in the 23rd minute on a foul but it amounted to nothing as the free kick went straight to Guzan. Shortly after that, Jozy made a defensive move to put the ball out forcing a corner. The short corner amounted to nothing to worry about. Yet.
In the 30th minute the turf monster may have gotten Brooks as he gave up the ball in the final third, though he did then defend well to make sure that nothing came of it. However, in the 37th minute, Jermaine Jones earned a yellow card, meaning he is out for next game.
Other than one more cross from Bobby Wood, who had headed up the right side to deliver a beauty into no one, there wasn’t much else by the U.S. in the first half. And with very little time left, Costa Rica switched the point of attack and Venegas was able to put in a header just before the half.
Things would get worse in the second half. The U.S. came out trying initially, but in the 52nd minute a corner kick from Bradley went way long. Bradley would follow it up in the 55th minute with a yellow on a lazy foul. Fortunately, in the 57th minute, Guzan made another good save before it was finally cleared.
It wasn’t until the 62nd minute that the U.S. finally got back into the opposing box, but they would again come away with no goals. It was after that that things got much worse. In the 68th minute, Costa Rica had a breakaway and beat the back line again to score off the foot of Christian Bolanos. Then it really started to fall apart.
Altidore drew a yellow card in the 71st minute, and Brooks would again give away a bad pass in the back third allowing Costa Rica’s Joel Campbell to get goal number three, followed shortly by his second in the 78th minute.
It was a game to be forgotten for U.S. fans as the team goes to 0-2 in the Hex. There will be plenty to be examined over the break, and plenty of blame to go around. All I can say, is be glad you probably weren’t able to watch it.