The United States Men’s National Team’s return to Red Bull Arena was met with excitement, but by the end of its World Cup qualifier, the hosts had walked away feeling down, with the team’s chances at playing in Russia next summer taking a hit after a 2-0 loss to Costa Rica. The Yanks dropped to 15-16-5 all-time against the Ticos.
San Jose Earthquakes striker Marco Ureña was the hero for his side, scoring a brace with goals in both halves to lead Costa Rica to all three points.
The United States looked confident early, putting pressure on the Costa Rica defense by controlling possession and consistently putting the ball around the penalty area. The Americans came close to striking on a counter attack led by Christian Pulisic in the 16th minute, but the 18-year-old’s shot at the end of the sequence sailed over the bar from inside the box.
The big “what could have been” moment happened for the United States in the 24th minute when Jozy Altidore was taken down in the box by defender Kendall Waston going for a cross from the right side by Pulisic. Two minutes later, Altidore had his shot blocked in front of goal by Waston again.
Costa Rica broke the deadlock six minutes later when Bryan Ruiz picked up the ball in the midfield and found Urena with a ball between the USA’s two center backs. Urena cut towards to right side of the field inside the penalty area and hit a shot from a tough angle to beat Tim Howard, making it a 1-0 game.
From there, the momentum shifted in favor of the visitors.
Keylor Navas made a pair of fantastic saves in the second half, first denying Pulisic off of a deflection in the 67th minute, reaching his arm and leg back at the last second on a dive in the opposite direction to stop the American’s shot.
It was Navas again in the 80th minute to keep out Altidore, who was fighting off two defenders in the box to get a shot off.
Clint Dempsey came into the match in the 65th minute for Jorge Villafaña, and picked up a yellow card in the 91st for throwing an elbow at a Ticos player. He was lucky to walk away with just the yellow.
Urena sealed the deal for Costa Rica in the 82nd, moments after Altidore’s point-blank shot was saved by Navas, the Ticos broke on the counter, where Urena found his second goal of the night, beating Howard again.
Things only stay difficult moving forward for the United States, which will now travel to Honduras for a crucial match on Tuesday.