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Wounded USA faces new challenges
by Mike Woitalla, September 7th, 2013 3:17AM

TAGS:  men's national team, mexico, world cup 2014


[HEXAGONAL: Matchday 7] Any notion that the USA didn't benefit from playing on snow in Colorado when it beat Costa Rica in March melted away on Friday as the Ticos outplayed the Americans in a 3-1 win. At the same time, 1,200 miles to the west, Honduras beat Mexico, the USA's foe Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio, where the two supposed giants of the region aim to get back on track.

Paul Kennedy: "Back to the Drawing Board"
Ridge Mahoney: "U.S. Player Ratings: Bad Night for Backline"

Hosting the USA always brings out the best in Costa Rica and Friday night was no exception. The Ticos made it eight straight home wins over Americans in World Cup qualifying.

The Ticos went up 2-0 within 10 minutes of kickoff. Both goals came on headers but remarkable was how the Ticos' smooth passing and dribbling befuddled the Americans.

Costa Rica dominated a U.S. central midfield that lost Michael Bradley to an ankle injury in warm-up and Jermaine Jones showed just how ineffective he is when he can’t risk getting a yellow card.

The loss ended a record 12-game win streak for the USA. But the Americans are still poised to cruise to Brazil 2014. The Mexicans, however, feel real fear of failure.

Jones, one of a slew of U.S. players faced with suspension against Mexico for accumulated yellows, managed not to get cautioned, but his midfield partner Geoff Cameron, central defender Matt Besler and Jozy Altidore -- who scored a hat trick in his last U.S. outing -- saw yellow. Altidore got his for inexplicably shoving Michael Umana after goalkeeper Keylor Navas had already securely gathered the ball.

“We knew about the [yellow card] risk, we knew about the situation,” said Coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “It’s always upsetting when it happens, especially when I look at Jozy Altidore’s yellow card at the end. That was absolutely not necessary.”

Altidore was a late sub because of a thigh injury and the USA is deep enough -- at least in the attack -- to send out a formidable strike force out against the Mexicans. Icelandic-American Aron Johannsson, a 90th-minute sub, should see more time in Columbus. Eddie Johnson entered in the 58th minute. Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey are likely to bring their top game to the field against Mexico.

More challenging for Klinsmann will be the backline and defensive midfield puzzle.

“We’re going to sit down and discuss all the elements we want to change going forward into the Tuesday game based on what happened tonight,” Klinsmann said.

But his challenges pale in comparison to those of the desperate Mexican team that will be flying to Columbus with a new coach in charge.

Costa Rica-USA Highlights:

Sept. 6 in San Jose, Costa Rica
Costa Rica 3 USA 1. Goals: Acosta 2, Borges 9, Campbell 75; Dempsey (pen.) 43.
Costa Rica – Navas, Umana, Gonzalez, Acosta, Oviedo, Gamboa, Borges, Tejeda (Cubero, 73), Bolanos (Brenes, 86), Campbell, Ruiz (Saborio, 80)
USA – Howard, Orozco, Gonzalez, Besler, Beasley, Cameron, Jones, Zusi (E.Johnson, 58), Donovan, F.Johnson (Altidore, 71), Dempsey (Johannsson, 90).
Yellow cards: Costa Rica -- Umana 32, Bolanos 36, Navas 41. USA -- Cameron 62, Besler 78, Altidore 90+3.
Referee: Marco Rodriguez (Mexico).
Att.: 35,000

Hexagonal Results:
Sept. 6
Costa Rica 3 USA 1
Mexico 1 Honduras 2
Panama 0 Jamaica 0

Hexagonal Standings:
14 Costa Rica 4-2-1 11/5
13 USA 4-1-2 8/6
10 Honduras 3-1-3 8/8
8 Mexico 1-5-1 4/4
7 Panama 1-4-2 5/7
3 Jamaica 0-3-4 2/8

Hexagonal Schedule:
Sept. 10
Jamaica-Costa Rica
Oct. 11
Honduras-Costa Rica
Oct. 15
Costa Rica-Mexico

  1. stewart hayes
    commented on: September 7, 2013 at 8:36 a.m.
    I don't want to be too hard on the team. They were really pissed deep down I think, perhaps subconsciously, because they visited Costa Rcia and didn't go to the beach.

  1. Peter Skouras
    commented on: September 7, 2013 at 9:56 a.m.
    Hey don't want to be to hard on the team??? looks like you want to write but are leaving it alone with "visiting the beach!" The game today has changed "enormously" with the monies involved mainly coming from TV. Players are making money, "not even in their dreams" with the exception of a few. The United States players should be counting their blessings with the salaries they are receiving...let's get real here! With the types of monies they are receiving "not commanding" you have every right to be "HARD ON THE TEAM!" Everywhere around the world the "CRITICISM" is either "justified with good performances" or "BRUTAL!" I choose to look at it the US performance from a "Footballing" point of view vs Costa Rica...THEY WERE THE BETTER SIDE! Goes to show you that with all of the resources the United States possesses, better yes, but simply not there yet! Will we ever be? The US Soccer DNA struggles!

  1. DonJuego Lee
    commented on: September 7, 2013 at 10:28 a.m.
    THe first sentence of this article is one of the most ill-informed sentences I've ever read. How can Woitella cover soccer for as long as he has and write that? Amazing.

  1. joe cale
    commented on: September 7, 2013 at 11:20 a.m.
    Pathetic. Why is the USMNT always such a slow starter? They always concede some soft early goals over the last few years. They were caught looking or not going to the ball on the first 2 goals. Losing headers to the smaller Rican's is rubbish. Howard was off his line and caught flat footed on the second goal. He may have been a little unlucky on the last goal. Dempsey's penalty kick was awful. Up the middle- you got to be kidding. Clint you can and must do better and I still like you. If he was not fit JK should have put some fresh legs in earlier. Interesting that Mexico and the USA both had around 60% + possession but lost. The killer finish is needed by the USA. Historically the latin teams do well in this department. Thus it all comes down to scoring when given half a chance. Pressure the Mexico team on Tuesday 100% of the time and do not let them have time to set up. This will give you a victory.

  1. stewart hayes
    commented on: September 7, 2013 at 12:14 p.m.
    Peter I guess you did not read my earlier post on Kennedy's 'Back to the Drawing Board'. I was not light on the team.

  1. Chris St. Hilaire
    commented on: September 7, 2013 at 2:03 p.m.
    Losing Bradley right before the game was the single biggest contributing factor to the loss. So why no mention of his condition or the role it played in the game?

  1. Charles Stamos
    commented on: September 7, 2013 at 2:39 p.m.
    First goal, great service and header. Dempsey soft on marking and Beasley just missing heading it out, but what a spectacular header by Acosta. Goal #2, poor marking of three attackers at the far post by our defensive line and Beasley soft on challenging for the ball. Third Tico goal, Campbell 0-60 faster than Besler then they match stride for stride, almost saved by Howard. Zusi played an imaginative ball forward for the PK, lucky for Dempsey to power it past Naves, who gets my award for the player of the game. First 8 minutes Ticos were passing, dribbling, serving, and shooting unbelievably. USA hurt by the Bradley and Altidore injuries, our mindset was not 100% at the start. USA played CR evenly for the last 80 min. Not good enough. Back line still suspect. They need to play together to become a cohesive unit.

  1. John Soares
    commented on: September 7, 2013 at 3:49 p.m.
    OK; I don't understand the lineup!? However that is no excuse for the poor display. Especially the first 20 minutes. Costa Rica is a good team but the US was a no show for a while, by the time they woke up the game was basically lost. At least it was an away game.... can only imagine how the Mexicans feel.

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: September 8, 2013 at 12:06 p.m.
    Another example of panic when a top starter(s) isn't fit. The soccer IQ on the pitch seems to diminish and the mental part of the game disappears. CR played better and looked dangerous when they did it with simplicity and efficacy; purpose of play by the USMNT had too few moments, especially during the 1st half when long hopeful balls kept the likes of LD and Dempsey out of the mix and favored the CR defense.

    commented on: September 9, 2013 at 10:08 a.m.
    Howard is a 1/2 step slow-Gold Cup keeper would do better.......

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