Costa Rica sunk the United States 1-0 at the Home Depot Center on Friday, taking advantage of a moment of suspect defending from the United States’ back four.
Midfield substitute, Rodney Wallace, who also plays as a defender for his MLS club the Portland Timbers, put the Central American side a goal up in the 65 minute.
The defeat will come as a crushing blow to the home team, who had a dollar’s worth of possession, but only a dime’s worth of chances. With loads of positive attacking spells, the US looked most threatening when a flurry of beautiful one-touch passes enabled FC Dallas midfielder Brek Shea, to tee up LA Galaxy forward Landon Donovan on the right side of the box. Donovan was unable to take advantage of the gaping near post from 15 yards out, as the ball ended up wide.
In the second half, the United States maintained much of their possession, but they lacked that final killer pass and in the end, it was Costa Rica who capitalized on some very lapsed defending at the back. A counter attack down the right, led to Tim Howard making two magnificent saves, before the third strike bounced into the net. The Everton keeper had no chance.
It would be unfair to say the United States deserved to lose given their positive possession and attacking mentality, but their defensive frailties, much like in their 2010 World Cup loss to Ghana, would prove to be their demise.
Costa Rica, on the other hand, played a defensive game, absorbing the pressure of the US. They did a fantastic job of limiting the chances given to the home team, and they took advantage when given the opportunity.
The standout player for the United States would have to be Jose Torres, who plays his club football for Mexican outfit Pachuca. Torres played fantastically alongside Brek Shea, and made a number of great challenges when required. He even fired a late shot from about 30 yards out, which forced a protective save out of Costa Rican goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
It was the United States’ first loss under the recently appointed Jürgen Klinsmann, who must now realize that CONCACAF qualification is anything but assured. It was evident that Klinsmann is trying to implement a possession, attacking mentality into the side, however after last night it is clear that the US will need some work on acquiring that final ball if they hope to score goals.
United States Assessment: It was positive, refreshing display from the United States. Although they were unable to score, they certainly looked the more threatening team over the 90 minutes, and they were able to string an impressive amount of passes together. If perfected, the United States will become an exciting team to watch. However, before this can happen, some major defensive issues will need sorting out, along with the final ball, which was absent from the majority of the match.
Costa Rica Assessment: Costa Rica showed the performance that CONCACAF members have to expect from them. They put in a solid performance around all parts of the pitch. Although they absorbed the United States’ attack, their rope-a-dope tactics worked to perfection, after punishing the shambolic US defense in the 65 minute. They are certainly going to be a team to look out for in the upcoming 2014 World Cup qualifiers.