The United States' men's national soccer team saw their 12-match winning streak broken at the hands of Costa Rica on Friday night at Estadio Nacional in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Los Ticos scored two first-half goals and added a dagger late in the second half to take home a 3-1 victory and assume first place in the CONCACAF qualifying table for the 2014 World Cup.
Fox Soccer Trax had summed up the night with this tweet:
FT CRC 3-1: Costa Rica ends U.S. winning streak at 12 after a comprehensive home display. Campbell electric for the Ticos. Setback for U.S.— FOX Soccer Trax (@FOXSoccerTrax) September 7, 2013
NBC Sports followed with this statistical post:
Costa Rica tops USA by score of 3-1 in World Cup qualifier. Goals: Zamora (3'), Borges (10') Dempsey (43'), Campbell (75')— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) September 7, 2013
The Americans received disastrous news early on, when star midfielder Michael Bradley limped off the field following warmups. The U.S. Soccer Twitter account confirmed the bad news; Bradley had a sprained ankle and would not play against Costa Rica:
As it turned out, Bradley's absence was just the tip of the iceberg.
Geoff Cameron, who had a yellow card in Bradley's stead and will be forced to sit out Tuesday's match with Mexico, didn't exactly step up to the challenge.
Team USA came out flat and unmotivated against Costa Rica. Los Ticos took full advantage in the third minute, when Yeltsin Tejeda's corner kick found the head of Jhonny Acosta to give the home side a 1-0 lead.
As noted by Fox Soccer, it was the worst possible start the Americans could have imagined:
GOAL Costa Rica! Worst possible start for the #USMNT as Jhonny Acosta heads in an early corner for the Ticos!— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) September 7, 2013
Things didn't get better from there.
Celso Borges headed a goal past Tim Howard to give the Costa Ricans a shock 2-0 lead. Fortunately for the Americans, Clint Dempsey managed to cut the deficit in half with a penalty goal late in the first half.
There was hope for a comeback, but that hope was squashed in the second half by Costa Rica's top player.
Joel Campbell put the final nail in the coffin for the home side in the 75th minute, prompting ESPN's Max Bretos to call for the American manager to call off the dogs in preparation for Team USA's next match on Tuesday:
3-1 Costa Rica, thanks to Joel Campbell's World Class speed. Time for Juergen to cut bait, and prepare to put Mexico to sword on Tuesday.— Max Bretos (@mbretosESPN) September 7, 2013
In the end, Costa Rica just isn't a friendly—or successful—atmosphere for the United States. As the drought continues, neither side can relax. Just one point separates them in the CONCACAF standings, and with a spot in the World Cup on the line, relaxing can be fatal.
|Costa Rica Player||Grade||United States Player||Grade|
|Keilor Navas||B+||Tim Howard||C|
|Jhonny Acosta||B+||Omar Gonzalez||C-|
|Giancarlo Gonzalez||A-||Matt Besler||C+|
|Michael Umana||C+||DeMarcus Beasley||D|
|Celso Borges||B+||Clint Dempsey||B-|
|Cristian Bolanos||B||Fabian Johnson||C-|
|Bryan Oviedo||B+||Jermaine Jones||D|
|Brian Ruiz||B||Graham Zusi||C|
|Joel Campbell||A-||Geoff Cameron||D|
|Cristian Gamboa||B-||Michael Orozco||C-|
|Yeltsin Tejeda||B||Landon Donovan||B|
|Alvaro Saborio||C||Aron Johannsson||C|
|Randall Brenes||C+||Jozy Altidore||C-|
|Jose Cubero||C||Eddie Johnson||C|
The Americans and Costa Ricans each have three CONCACAF World Cup qualifying matches left on their schedules.
The United States will host Mexico on Tuesday. After a month-long layoff, Team USA will then host Jamaica before traveling to Panama.
Costa Rica will close out their fourth-round CONCACAF qualifying appearance with two road matches against Jamaica and Honduras before hosting Mexico on Oct. 15.
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