The U.S. men's national team met Costa Rica at Chicago's Soldier Field knowing it could not lose, or else its Copa America Centenario would have been over after two matches. It avoided that doomsday scenario with room to spare.
Following a 2-0 loss to Colombia, the U.S. rebounded against its CONCACAF foe, winning 4-0 on first-half goals from Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones and Bobby Wood and a late tally from substitute Graham Zusi. Given U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati's most recent comments about the USA's results of late, made just hours before the opening kick, Jurgen Klinsmann may have needed the result, which puts the Americans in position to advance to the knockout stage when playing Paraguay in its group finale on Saturday.
Klinsmann turned to the exact same starting lineup that played against Colombia on Friday night. Brad Guzan was in goal; DeAndre Yedlin, Geoff Cameron, John Brooks and Fabian Johnson were in front of him; Alejandro Bedoya, Michael Bradley and Jones made up a three-man midfield; Gyasi Zardes, Dempsey and Wood combined for the front trio.
The U.S. got off to a great start when Dempsey converted a penalty kick in the ninth minute. Bobby Wood absorbed a push from behind by Cristian Gamboa, and Dempsey stepped to the spot to bury the kick. It was his 50th career goal with the United States, joining Landon Donovan in exclusive American company:
Jones made it 2-0 in the 37th minute with a low effort from 19 yards. He started the sequence by forcing a turnover and winning the ball back in the Costa Rica half. Dempsey carried forward and had the ball carom into Jones's path. The veteran midfielder picked his spot and hit it, doubling the USA's lead:
Wood then got into the act with a tremendous individual effort. Despite being deployed on the wing, Wood was set up in the center, and he received a pass at the top of the box, turned and finished to beat Patrick Pemberton to make it 3-0:
Zusi made it 4-0 in the 87th minute, tallying what could be an important goal should advancement come down to a goal-differential tiebreaker. After the win, the U.S. is at +2 in that department:
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