A crushing defeat in Costa Rica adds even greater importance to the next U.S. match in World Cup qualifying, against Honduras on Saturday in Chicago.
In Costa Rica on Wednesday, the Americans were second-best for most of the match in all areas of the field and could have lost by a greater margin. Kudos to coach
Against a tough opponent on a quirky surface with an undermanned squad, the U.S. conceded goals by
A third goal, scored by substitute right back
Costa Rica, playing in a pressing, aggressive 4-4-2 formation, repeatedly overran the three-man U.S. midfield of
Saborio stunned the Americans when he darted inside from the right flank and knifed between Mastroeni and Torres to swerve a spectacular left-footed shot into the top far corner 85 seconds after kickoff. Costa Rica had already breached that flank in the opening 30 seconds but whatever warning that should have sounded wasn't heeded.
Minutes later, a string of breakdowns on the opposite flank -- Mastroeni applied pressure in a bad spot,
Their sharp finishing delivered both of those goals, yet the Costa Ricans' swift, fluid movements and clean touches created the opportunities. Such elements were notably lacking in the U.S. offense, and the insertion of three attacking subs in the second half --
Another crisp move produced a third goal. Playmaker
Throughout this sequence, no American got within a yard of the ball or the player on it. Of the three goals conceded, the ease of this one defied belief. Whether fatigued or shell-shocked, the U.S. players were nothing more than bystanders.
On the rare occasions the Americans worked themselves and the ball into good attacking positions, too often balls were played not to feet, but into space, and usually scurried out of play.
The Americans' only goal came much too late. Onyewu drew a foul in the penalty area as Wynne launched a throw-in, and Donovan sent Costa Rican goalie
Michael Bradley and Kljestan picked up their second yellow cards of the Hexagonal and will sit out the match against Honduras. Bob Bradley and his players have just two days to regain the confidence and sharpness they will need to beat another good regional rival.