Preamble: Good evening and welcome to the fourth round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying. Tonight's match pits the US against Costa Rica at the Estadio Saprissa, a venue in which the US has never won. Will the US finally add a win to their 0-6-1 record at the Saprissa?
After the national anthems, which distorted the stadium's speakers, we've got starting lineups.
Altidore, Donovan, Dempsey, Torres, Bradley, Mastroeni, Wynne, Onyewu, Bocanegra, Beasley, Howard
Saborio, Ruiz, Centeno, Borges, Sirias, Herron, Diaz, Fernandez, Umana, Wallace, Navas
Prediction: United States 2-1 Costa Rica
1 min: Costa Rica takes the kick, wearing a blue and red kick. United States in their white away strip. It's very loud in Costa Rica. Andy Herron absolutely skins a defender and whips a dangerous ball into the box. Foul, free kick to Tim Howard.
2 min: GOOOOOAAALLLL!!! 1-0 to Costa Rica after a big mistake by DaMarcus Beasley creates an odd-man rush for Costa Rica. Saborio curls a shot into the top corner over an outstretched Tim Howard. If I'm being honest, it was a gorgeous shot. The US, meanwhile, is stunned and seems to want a mulligan.
4 min: It's all Costa Rica so far. The US can't even maintain possession for more than a couple of passes. Bocanegra drives my point home by playing a through ball that was 20 yards from the nearest US player. Goal kick to Costa Rica.
6 min: Tonight's referee...is wearing a red shirt. That won't be confusing at all. I thought FIFA had rules in place to prevent that.
9 min: Currently, John Harkes and JP Dellacamara are making excuses for the US team. It's hard to hear in this environment, they're playing on turf, etc, etc. These guys are professionals and should be used to hostile environments. Perhaps they should just try playing a little better.
13 min: GOOOOAAALLLL!!!! 2-0 to Costa Rica, and this one is over, folks. Borges took a centering pass and put it past a helpless Tim Howard. If not for the constant crippling defensive lapses, the US might actually be in this one.
14 min: I'd like to revise my prediction. This one will finish 6-0 to Costa Rica.
15 min: Does "our defense sucks without Frankie Hejduk" count as a legitimate excuse?
17 min: Memo to Bob Bradley: After just a couple of matches, it's time to call an end to the DaMarcus Beasley at left back experiment. He's not a defender, and we're losing because of it.
18 min: Beasley neglects to challenge the ball, which leads to a header by Saborio that forces Howard to dive into his post. Corner kick, which thankfully leads to nothing.
21 min: I imagine Beasley's bosses at Rangers are watching this and thinking about how to get rid of him. Meanwhile, an Oguchi Onyewu long throw goes straight into the waiting arms of the Costa Rica keeper. This is a tragedy.
23 min: Onyewu steamrolls Sirias just outside of the center circle. He's got to be careful. A yellow card tonight, and he misses out on the chance to make up for this 8-0 loss on Saturday.
25 min: The US steams forward thanks to a good tackle by Torres. Costa Rica gets numbers back and dispels the threat, but it was nice to see even just a little bit of play near the Costa Rica box.
26 min: Altidore is fouled 40 yards from goal. How will the US screw up this set piece? Donovan and Dempsey are standing over the ball, and Dempsey blasts the shot well over the bar. Meanwhile, we're interrupted by Sportscenter to let us know that the Giants are in the midst of a rain delay. Man, I love ESPN's soccer coverage!
28 min: Apparently DaMarcus Beasley also thinks that he doesn't belong in the back. He's pushed up farther than the US midfielders right now.
30 min: We've got our first booking of the night. Fernandez is shown yellow for shoving Altidore at midfield. It's been over 15 minutes since the US has conceded, that's great news!
31 min: Beasley makes his first positive contribution, drawing a foul 30 yards from goal on the left wing. Donovan whips it in, but it doesn't find an American skull.
33 min: Altidore earns a throw deep in Costa Rica's end. The US is still looking for their first shot on goal. Onyewu takes the deep throw, which eventually bounces out to Donovan on the wing.
35 min: Costa Rica has realized that they don't have to attack anymore, and are throwing eight or nine guys behind the ball. The US attack is more impotent than a man wearing a radioactive codpiece.
38 min: More defensive miscommunication for the US leads to a corner to Costa Rica, and they just miss out on their third goal. Tim Howard is starting to get pissed. There will certainly be blood spilled at halftime.
40 min: Apparently, the US hasn't scored in Costa Rica since 2000, on an Earnie Stewart strike. They just keep piling on the misery, don't they?
42 min: Altidore draws a foul about 35 yards from goal. This could be dangerous, but probably not. Donovan to take it yet again. Yep, nothing good happened, not even close.
44 min: The crowd is already showering every Costa Rica pass with a chorus of "Oles" as Altidore lets the ball dribble out for a Costa Rica goal kick.
45 min: I'll spare you my profanity-laced halftime analysis. I need to go buy some beer if I'm going to stomach this second half.
Well, before kickoff, I was really excited to see Bob Bradley giving young guys like Wynne and Torres a chance...and then the US immediately fell behind, badly. This game isn't the one to experiment with. The US historically struggles at Costa Rica, so Bradley should have thrown out a more experienced side.
You want to tinker? Save it for Saturday in Chicago. The US hasn't lost at home during qualifying since 2001, and Honduras is much weaker than Costa Rica.
46 min: US substitute: Sacha Kljestan replaces...somebody, I'll figure it out soon. Torres? Really? Bradley decided to remove his most effective player? Wow, that's terrible.
49 min: So far it's more of the same for the US. They're chasing Costa Rica and struggling to maintain possession. I still don't think they've even registered a shot on goal yet.
50 min: A Kljestan (I think) shot is deflected out for a corner kick. Let's see if Donovan can work his magic...short corner, Clint Dempsey flirts with disaster by handling the ball just over the end line. That was close.
51 min: And poor finishing is the only reason that Borges doesn't make it 3-0. A beautiful cross almost gave the holding midfielder his second goal of the match. Beasley appears to be limping.
53 min: Some serious miscommunication between Altidore and Dempsey luckily results in a corner for the US. Donovan to take it once again. Short to Beasley, who actually puts in a decent cross, but no luck.
54 min: The referee has changed shirts! He came out of the locker room at halftime wearing black. He pulls a yellow card out of his pocket for Michael Bradley, who will now miss Saturday's match. That call was a little harsh though, barely any contact.
56 min: Costa Rica sub: Herrera on, Harold Wallace off. Check Wallace's passport, he can't be Costa Rican by birth with that name.
58 min: A quick check of Wikipedia reveals that Harold Wallace's full name is Harold Wallace MacDonald. And apparently he was born in Costa Rica. I would have guessed Scotland or Wisconsin.
59 min: Pablo Mastroeni shoots. To borrow a phrase from the immortal Bob Uecker, "Just a bit outside!" Yeah, by 30 yards. Why couldn't Kljestan have replaced him?
62 min: Freddy Adu is set to check in! Hooray! My roommate just referred to him as "Fredward".
63 min: US sub: Freddy Adu on, Mastroeni off. I love this move. It's purely offensive, and Adu might actually be able to keep some possession for the US.
64 min: Donovan lines up yet another free kick that ends in failure for the US. Costa Rica is just packing too many defenders into the box.
66 min: Yellow card to Kljestan for a late challenge. ESPN shows us a graphic that says Costa Rica is 18-1-2 at home in World Cup Qualifiers since 2000. So it's not just the US that's inept there, that's comforting.
67 min: Herrerra in the book, and another free kick for the US in a dangerous position. Donovan behind the ball, 30 yards from goal. Right into the wall this time. I think these set pieces are getting worse every time.
69 min: GOOOOAAALLL!! Herrerra makes it 3-0 to Costa Rica as he is allowed to walk into the box completely unchallenged. He takes his sweet time to set up the shot and puts it past Howard on the near post. Carlos Bocanegra gave him the space, and he took it. This is the worst that the US has looked since the 1998 World Cup.
72 min: As if this was in any doubt...the US has stopped showing any effort in chasing the ball. I feel bad for Tim Howard, there's nothing he could have done with this sieve in front of him.
74 min: Altidore fires a rocket of a shot off Bradley's face. That looked painful. Still no shots on goal.
75 min: The good news for the US? The loss only drops them to second in the CONCACAF standings. The bad news? They couldn't have been more intimidated tonight if Costa Rica had come out towing howitzers.
76 min: Costa Rica sub: Saborio off, Hernandez on.
79 min: Diaz fouls Altidore about 25 yards from goal. Landon Donovan prepares to fire this one into his own bench.
80 min: Instead, it's Adu getting a chance to waste a free kick. He takes it quickly and puts it over the bar. US Sub: Dempsey off, Charlie Davies on.
83 min: Charlie Davies gets mugged by a Costa Rican defender, and is called for a foul. Junior Diaz has apparently been shot. Should have been a foul and a free kick for the US.
85 min: Bradley feeds Davies with a nice ball in the box. Davies wins a corner off a deflected shot. Adu to take the corner, and presumably waste it again.
87 min: Davies has been a breath of fresh air since he was introduced. He should start Saturday based on his shift here alone, he's been good.
88 min: Adu puts a shot on net. A seemingly minor event, but that's a big deal given the way that the US has played tonight.
89 min: Costa Rica earns a free kick 20 yards from goal thanks to some spectacular acting. A chance to make this rout even messier. Howard makes a great save and deflects a dangerous shot out for a corner kick.
90+1 min: Penalty kick to the US! Oguchi Onyewu whipped a long throw into the box, and a US attacker is dragged down. Do they tell us who? No. Do we get a replay? No. Great job, ESPN.
90+2 min: GOOOOOAAALLLLL!! Landon Donovan regains a small measure of respect for the US by putting home a meaningless penalty kick. It's the US' first goal in Costa Rica since 2000.
Full time: And that's it, oy. 3-1 doesn't do justice to Costa Rica's dominating performance, nor does it tell the full story of the US' pitiful performance. Hopefully they can rebound on Saturday.
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