Americans underperform in 1-0 loss

[USA CONFIDENTIAL] Jurgen Klinsmann’s second game as head coach didn't go as planned. Here's what we learned from the 1-0 loss to Costa Rica Friday night ...

WHY NOT TWO STRIKERS? Juan Agudelo’s entrance in the second half livened up a USA attack that had stagnated somewhat; he replaced Jozy Altidore as head coach Jurgen Klinsmann retained his use of a solitary forward supported by wingers and central midfielders.

Altidore held up the ball several times effectively and opened up space that Agudelo would have exploited had they been deployed together. Klinsmann’s next change a few minutes later was to replace Robbie Rogers with Sacha Kljestan, and Brek Shea eventually drifted up front to play as a second forward.

One can’t assume Agudelo, at age 19, can automatically be as effective as a starter as his performances off the bench might suggest. Klinsmann used just those two subs, and with other players available for a game Tuesday in Belgium, and Landon Donovan not making the journey, the U.S. coach could opt for a two-forward system.

CHANCES SQUANDERED, AGAIN. Altidore chested down a ball to force his way into the penalty area to fire a shot wide, and Donovan wasted a superb opportunity by simply rolling his shot just wide of the post following an excellent buildup. Despite dominating the first half, those were the only viable shots the USA produced in the first 45 minutes, which is especially worrying since the Costa Ricans seemed to be sleepwalking until they twice nearly scored just before halftime.

Jose Torres played some good passes and belted a long-distance shot that was going wide yet forced a flying save from keeper Francisco Navas nonetheless. Still, he served more as a conduit than catalyst, which would have created more good opportunities had Donovan and Rogers played sharper and more assuredly. Donovan’s miss, a roller wide of the post from medium-distance and with time to measure the shot, simply can’t happen from such an accomplished player.

CASTILLO, WE HAVE A PROBLEM. Mexico-based Edgar Castillo looked poised and comfortable in the first half, and assured going forward. But once halftime sub Daniel Colindres began running at him as a recharged Costa Rica came out buzzing for the second half, his defensive liabilities recurred time and time again.

When not under pressure, he had used the ball well and sought out combination sequences with Torres and other teammates. On the rare occasions he reached a crossing position, he didn’t serve good balls. Those moments nearly dried up in the second half as Costa Rica pushed the USA into its defensive third time and time again, with many of those thrusts aimed at Castillo. The USA back line and midfield didn’t adjust well on a few occasions, but often, Castillo’s couldn't handle the responsibility of winning a tackle or cutting out a pass.

Sept. 2 in Carson, Calif.
USA 0 Costa Rica 1. Goal: Wallace 65.
USA -- Howard, Chandler, Orozco Fiscal, Bocanegra, Castillo, Donovan, Edu, Torres, Rogers (Kljestan 67), Altidore (Agudelo 62), Shea.
Costa Rica -- Navas, Miller, Umana, Acosta, Johnson (Saltavierra 82), Barrantes (Mena 87), Azofeifa, Sanchez, Brenes (Wallace 61), Martinez (Colindres 46); Saborio (Powell 76).

40 comments about "Americans underperform in 1-0 loss".
  1. Theodore Eison, September 3, 2011 at 8:58 a.m.

    Spot on.

  2. Amos Annan, September 3, 2011 at 9:05 a.m.

    If this were Bob Bradley's team we would be reading what an awful COACH.

  3. Luis Arreola, September 3, 2011 at 9:23 a.m.

    Ridge you suck again. Castillo played well and the worse defender was Chandler. You fail to give Torres his due credit but I'll do it for you. He was easily the best player on the field and would have even been more effective had the ref called the obvious fouls. Sacha, Robbie, Edu and Jozy were non factors. Shea was solid as well as Agudelo. Gomez and Corona are missing.

  4. Kent James, September 3, 2011 at 10 a.m.

    Yes, if Bob Bradley had coached this performance, there would be calls for his head and how he knows nothing about soccer, or can't coach at the level, etc. That being said, now is a time for patience. Klingsmann is trying new players, as he should, and there is certainly a lot of promise. For the first 30 minutes or so, Costa Rica barely touched the ball, and the US looked very strong, with lots of creative runs and good touches. It was disappointing that this was not turned into more chances on goal, and certainly, a player of Donovan's caliber has to finish the shot he put just wide. I don't think the formation was the problem, and it worked very well for a while (Shea continues to impress, though I think Harkes comments that he needed to take the ball wide more frequently instead of cutting into the middle so much were accurate). The only disconcerting thing for me was that when the US started to struggle in the 2nd half, it seemed that we should try something new; Agudelo's insertion helped, but Klejstan is not a game changer (and I think Shea is a much better midfielder than forward). Losing at home to a weak Costa Rican side does not represent progress, but wins and losses right now are less important than discovering who should play where in the long run.

  5. Walt Pericciuoli, September 3, 2011 at 10:22 a.m.

    Watching the MNT v. Costa Rico it struck me at how far things have deteriorated under the B. Bradley regime. We went from #1 in CONCACAF to now maybe #3 or 4. Klinsi may now be wondering what he got himself into as he realizes now how difficult this will be to rebuild this team and qualify for the next WC. US Soccer waited too long to get rid of Bradley. I do think Klinsi is on the right track with player selection and we need to be patient. After all, he must see new players under pressure situations and not all of them will prove themselves well. I don't think we are going to see Shea, Rogers or Chandler in the starting line up in the qualifying games, but it was good for them to gain some experience as possible back ups. Landon had an off night, no problem there.I hope we get to see Adu again. Defensively, Edu was adequate, Chandler OK, but didn't get forward enough and yes, Castillo had a nightmare 2nd half, but I still think he needs at least one more chance. Don't forget, LB is a real weak spot for the US. Fiscal OK, but can we expect Bocanegro to be still a mainstay by WC 2014? Where are the goals going to come from? Altidore as a lone striker does not seem to work. He needs a second forward to link with. However, as much as I don't like only one forward, Agudelo seemed the better suited to be up top alone. I still think there are forwards out there that need to be brought in for a look. (Gomez, Corona). No doubt about it , the US best player on the night was TORRES. I wonder how far along he would be now if he had gotten more time under Bradley? Lets keep the faith and see whats up v. Belgium?

  6. John Roode, September 3, 2011 at 11:01 a.m.

    Re: Torres... enough already. He's an average player... who can neither defend or attack. The use of the term conduit vs catalyst is right on. The ball goes through him but I didn't really see anything decisive from him in the way of balls except for the one shot he took. The reason we suffered in attack was because of the use of only one defensive midfielder vs 2. That caused the flank players, Rogers and Shea, to have more defensive responsibilities on the flank than they had against Mexico. The result was a lack of wide play in the final third, which allowed Costa Rica to pinch and concentrate their defense in the penalty area. I would NEVER play with 1 defensive mid. The area in front of back four is just too important to dedicate only 1 player to defending it. That's on Klinsmann. Plus, I would never play Donovan and Torres (putting aside how I feel about Torres anyway) side by side. And if you are going to use the flanks, you only need the 2 wingers and 1 attacking midfielder. There just aren't enough balls for all of them. Lastly, it's obvious that Rogers isn't nearly as comfortable on the right as he is on his natural sided left... Again, on Klinsmann, IMO.

  7. Karl Ortmertl, September 3, 2011 at 11:52 a.m.

    Dempsey is a crucial part of this team. The creativity to get it done in the final third, outside of Donovan who had an off night, is just not there otherwise. We're learning that while Torres and Castillo are a lot better than what we had, they're a bit less than what we were hoping for. And agreed with Walt, above, the US team has deteriorated tremendously under Bradley who should have been gone long ago.

  8. David Crowther, September 3, 2011 at 1:08 p.m.

    John: While I've never been a big Torres fan, I thought he had his best game yet for the USMNT, doing a great job of both recovering and distributing the ball from the back in a way no other US player is capable of doing. I don't see how this conflicts or overlaps at all with Donovan's role as an attacking midfielder playing in front of him. The problem with the US wing-play yesterday had little to do with expecting some defense from those two positions (almost a necessity in the modern game). Rodgers was easy prey for the Tico fullbacks (even when he switched to left for a stretch), while the Ticos quickly moved to neutralize Shea after he proved to be the most dangerous US player early on. First they asked Martinez to drop back and help defensively on that side (a role to which Martinez is unsuited and led to his yellow card) and then they brought in Colindres to pin Castillo back and deprive Shea of support. Getting back to Torres, it must be noted that part of his success last night was due to the abysmal game of the Tico central midfielder Barrantes, who was a major disappointment on his return to the national side. I still wonder if Torres is capable of repeating this kind of performance against stronger opposition.

  9. David Crowther, September 3, 2011 at 1:16 p.m.

    Almost forgot. As a Timbers fan, I have to congratulate Rodney Wallace on his international debut and with a goal no less. I was quite sceptical when he was called up given that he seemed to have lost his starting spot with Portland, but he showed he's worthy of being in the mix (even if unlikely to get much playing time when the Ticos are full strength). This game did prove something I've thought all along, which is that Wallace is much better as a left-sided midfielder (where he used to play for DC United) than as a left fullback (where Spencer tends to line him up for Portland).

  10. Luis Arreola, September 3, 2011 at 1:28 p.m.

    Johnson, Nobody said Torres was great but he was the best player yesterday and so far has shown to be the best attacking mid USA has as well as playing defensive mid pretty effectively. USA has no great players except for maybe Howard.

  11. Luis Arreola, September 3, 2011 at 1:31 p.m.

    Walt, agree with everything you said except for Shea. He s a stud. Hey Stuper, is Walt a racist to? He seems to have the same opinions. Just call me Krypton.

  12. Luis Arreola, September 3, 2011 at 1:40 p.m.

    USA was surprised by Ticos physicality and never adjusted. The ref let too many fouls go but USA is suppose to be characteristically a physicaly and mentally strong team. Shea and Torres were the only ones to show toughness along with Agudelo. USA got bullied in this game. Simple.

  13. Charles Stamos, September 3, 2011 at 1:43 p.m.

    A disappointing all around effort. No one single player had a game higher than a 5 or 6 rating and nobody stunk with a 4 or less. Torres had some nice play, but did make some errors also. Give Klinsmann and the team some time to find their game; I do agree that a second forward would have been nice from the start. Bradley for Edu would be an improvement. Castillo struggled at our archilles left back position. He is on the slight side and I am weary of him getting bodied off the ball. Chandler had a better game on the other side keeping his feet under him when challenged. Bocranegro and Orozco were exploited on some plays, neither stepped up on the goal producing play. They were split by an attacker on more than one occasion. Howard made a great reaction save just before the goal, and got a hand on the goal, so hard to fault him on that play.

  14. Luis Arreola, September 3, 2011 at 1:48 p.m.

    Ric, I ll be more blunt. Ridge is racist against Hispanics. He is extremely transparent. Good thing Klins is not and he will make this team better and most importantly he will develop a style of play that was nonexistent with Bradley. First 30 minutes were exiting play to score soccer and it was for the first time the USA!!! Klins is a big time risk taker and it is clear what he wants and expects out of his players. He wants them to have fun and play with a passion. The latter was missing from some players. Go get em Klins!!

  15. P Van, September 3, 2011 at 1:50 p.m.

    Re: Roode and others critical of Torres. He was by far the most competent on the ball in tight spaces, and did a good job working the ball around. He indeed did play a beauty of a through ball in the first half on the ground under pressure. Good shot too as you noted; two actually, one was blocked toward end of game. He also managed to get out of tight spots with quick reversals of direction, and in the second half a deft heel touch to move through two defenders. No, he's not Xavi; I'd even agree he was more a conduit than catalyst, but on the US team he is the best in the middle right now and needs to be on the pitch in general. Defensive-wise he showed greater tenacity than any on the team; watch the last 15 minutes of the game; though in one sequence he was just swinging a bit, he did win some balls, and fought regularly for them. We'll see what Holden has to offer, but please as much as I appreciate the qualities of M. Bradley and J. Jones--we need more players with touch and guile like Torres in order to move forward.

    Lastly, as much as I'm pulling for Fiscal and Castillo to succeed, last night didn't impress me much in terms of their performances. Castillo had a couple of good runs, but his crossing has been very suspect. I do like how aggressive he is, but he strikes me as shaky, insecure...we need to see more--but no performances will need to improve for him to stay on the pitch.

  16. Luis Arreola, September 3, 2011 at 9:37 p.m.

    Stuper, I guess even the white people that agree with me are racist too, huh? Is that all you can say?

  17. Luis Arreola, September 4, 2011 at 6:14 a.m.

    Ridge, what, no story on Mexico vs Poland game or the very good Chile vs Spain game??? These are America teams as well and many Americans watched it and are interested in sharing opinions on it. Especially Hispanics. I think more so than this USA game. All Stuper Boy can do in this one is say we are racists.

  18. Luis Arreola, September 4, 2011 at 9:52 a.m.

    Well Stup, what is there to prove to you if all you can state is how racist we are. Including the white people that agree with us. Ric makes accurate observations and follows them up with facts. Hence cognoscenti. You on the other hand are limited in your observations. Get er done. They took er jobs. That's right up your alley.

  19. Luis Arreola, September 4, 2011 at 1:27 p.m.

    We are not the only ones to critisize Ridge's articles and find that he is bias towards Hispanics. White loyal bloggers do the same but you seem to have a problem with the 2 Hispanics doing it. Would it be ok with you if we were white? What we state is obvious to many nonHispanics as well. Ridge produces articles like "No Conspiracy Here" regarding the USMNT, out of no where. What does that sound like to you? Every single article he writes minimizes all Hispanic player's efforts and glorifies mediocre, sometimes terrible performances. When he can pull that off he makes excuses for them. This is "always". The reaction from many white bloggers to Ridge's absurd comments or bias vs Hispanics should be enough for people like yourself to at least acknowledge there could be something to it. It's really easy for you to call me a racist. Good thing is we don't need for you to like us but we will make sure you respect t us

  20. Kent James, September 4, 2011 at 9:13 p.m.

    Personally, I'd prefer if people posted comments that analyzed the players, rather than insulted other bloggers. Charging a coach or sportswriter as racist is a pretty serious charge, and should not be done just because you disagree with their opinions. Luis, you suggest Ridge demonstrated his anti-Hispanic bias because he authored an article addressing the issue of an anti-HIspanic bias "out of nowhere"? I would suggest that Ridge probably reads the Soccer America blogs, and noticed that a number of bloggers raised the issue about Bob Bradley pretty regularly. I think thats a journalist investigating an issue of importance to his audience, and I found his article informative. He also gave Torres the second highest marks for game, thought Agudelo played well, and liked Castillo coming forward, while criticizing his second half defense and his poor crosses. Those judgments seem pretty accurate, and I don't see the anti-Hispanic bias. Let's get back to arguing about match analysis, rather than name-calling.

  21. Luis Arreola, September 4, 2011 at 9:56 p.m.

    Kent, appreciate your input. Ridge acknowledged a concern but sides with the bias by including his opinion like on that particular article you speak of. Then he states the obvious but chooses what to glorify and what to minimize. It is very transparent and easy to evaluate. Perhaps you should go through his articles and you will notice that he never has anything extremely positive to say about a Hispanic player but does find to say something positive to say about a white player and isn't shy when even slightly merited. He also is very clear on his personal preference of speed and power over skill and talent wich always happens to be the topic between USA Hispanics and Whites. I have just come to this conclusion after many of his articles since I don't like to just accuse somebody of being racist. I can guarantee you that he will never say anything overwhelmingly good of a Hispanic player. What would that make him then??

  22. Luis Arreola, September 4, 2011 at 10:47 p.m.

    Ridge thinks Castillo should be cut since his first appearance along with Orozco but made excuses forever for others(npnhispanics). He minimizes Torres as much as he cans even though, like Castillo, is the best option for USA at their respective positions. This is clear to everyone except Ridge. You too Kent??

  23. Luis Arreola, September 4, 2011 at 10:58 p.m.

    Kent, do you think I am racist? What do you think of Stuper z?

  24. Raveen Rama, September 5, 2011 at 5:57 a.m.

    There has been too much "mud slinging" and "bad blood" among the comments made. Why can't we talk about the individuals instead of ethnicity?
    I was happy to see Castillo but to my disappointment he had a terrible game. Torres is one of my favorites and even though he showed some good skills and ball distribution, he could have done even better with some better support from fellow midfielders.
    I think the problem with our attack was that we were doing more early crosses which were being headed away, rather than moving the ball to the goal line and then crossing across in front of the goal or to the penalty spot.
    The coach said that he was happy with the performance but I am sure he was not satisfied. But this was only his second game, and it happened only after a combined few days of practice so people, have patience and give the coach a little more time and he will whip the team into top shape soon. Until then don't jump to conclusions,hold your horses, and be good to each other!

  25. Luis Arreola, September 5, 2011 at 2:12 p.m.

    He agreed in other things. I never said Castillo was great or it was racist to not play him. I don't know where you getting this. I just believe there isn't a better option at his position. So, if all those other guys were given much opportunity to settle in there then it should be the same with him. Ridge has put him down as much as possible as well as Orozco and Torres. All you have to do is read his comments on these guys and then read his articles on Bradley, Jozy, Edu, Chandler, who really did not impress, to see the bias. Ridge never has or will do a piece on a Hispanic or a Hispanic Team that will be extremely positive in nature. J can gaurantee it. The tone of his articles is transparent. That's a trend right now overall in the USA with immigration laws and Hispanics being targeted in a negative manner. We just have to make sure we defend ourselves and if that's racist to people like Super who I don't care for anyways, so be it. Kent, I hope you understand. Keep up he good work Ric. Super, how about some intellectual content to your comments? Just a thought.

  26. Christian Navarro, September 5, 2011 at 3:14 p.m.

    Luis I agree with your comments. Ridge is an idiot which is why I cancelled my subscription to SA. He is biased and from what I saw of the game, Castillo is way better than Johnny "nightmare" on bornstreet! I do believe that the future of our development of soccer lies in our Hispanic talent, but at the same time all races must be targeted and tapped into. It is sad that Mexican Soccer teams are based in our country with their academies trying to target our Mexican American Population to try to find talent. I know this because my own son goes to Atlas' Academy based in Sharyland TX. I want my son to play American Football, but he loves soccer and is pretty damned good at it plus they have promised contracts if the kid pans out in his teens. At this point he is nine and plays with 13 year olds because of his talent level. Why aren't our MLS teams doing the same thing?

  27. Luis Arreola, September 5, 2011 at 3:23 p.m.

    Super, where do you get the notion my kids aren't good enough to make elite teams? My kid is considered the top 99 in Illinois at several positions. He can play on any team he wants to in the state. I think I stated this before. When he makes the national team I will be sure to rub it in with you. I made the comment that Ridge is bias towards Hispanics but made others about players being good or not. You continue to dwell on the one I made of Ridge. Probably because you have nothing to sat about the other ones and that's probably because you know nothing of soccer in general. You critidize Ric's knowledge even though he makes his remarks with the richest of substance and facts. All you do is critisize us. I am curious. Do you live in Illinois?

  28. Kent James, September 5, 2011 at 3:28 p.m.

    I'm not saying that racism is not an issue in America, since it clearly is. I'm also not saying there are not racists (or anti-Hispanics) in the soccer community, because clearly there are. My point is that I don't think either Ridge or Bradley are racists, and I think it's unfair to accuse them. I also think it's counter productive to bring that up when you disagree with their assessment. I generally agree with Ridge's assessments, and while I would prefer to have seen Bradley use more dynamic, skillful players, I think his reluctance to do so was not racist, but rather conservative, feeling that the US could not compete with the best teams on pure skill, and that the team would be more effective if we took fewer risks by having more defensive players (I disagreed with this, but understand his approach). I also recognize that cultures influence the soccer played, but just because Brazilians emphasize skill on the ball, not all Brazilians are better on the ball than all the players from cultures that emphasize other aspects of the game. Players should be judged on their own merits, not the cultures from which they come. I'm glad Klinsmann brought in new players, but was not as impressed with Castillo or Orozco as I'd hoped to be. Torres is clearly the kind of skillful player we need (I'd classify him as similar to Donovan, Feilhaber, Holden and maybe Adu, if he can get back into form). I was disappointed Bradley did not play him more, but I think that was because Bradley liked using 2 defensive CMs, which fit in with his more defensive oriented philosophy (though another poster argued that 2 defensive CMs allows the outside miss to be more offensive minded, which might be true). I'd like to see Torres as an offensive CM, Bradley as a defensive CM, with Donovan and Dempsey up top. Castillo seems to be good going forward (especially in tight spaces), but not as good with his crosses or with his defense. But he's young, so he deserves more opportunities. I think one thing we all need to recognize as we criticize players, is at the level, nothing is easy. I think Ric pointed out that the shot that some people suggested Donovan "wasted" was by no means a sitter (and he didn't miss by much). But of course, if Donovan has aspirations to be a world class players (and he should), he needs to finish that. His not finishing that was evidence that he did not have his best game. Belgium should be another interesting test!

  29. Christian Navarro, September 5, 2011 at 4:18 p.m.

    Luis, wow, I guess you are right. I know nothing of soccer since i played football and actually coach it. The whole premise behind mentioning my kid was that i do recognize talent when I see it, and castillo is actually better than previous players we had there in the past. Plus, as you failed to notice or even read, we need to look everywhere for talent for the sport of soccer. mexico and its teams do it so why not US? dumbass

  30. Luis Arreola, September 5, 2011 at 9:09 p.m.

    Cristian, ?????????? What the F. are you talking about stupid?

  31. Luis Arreola, September 5, 2011 at 9:17 p.m.

    Kent, I see you point and it is valid. You are a gentleman and I respect your opinion and thank you for your advice. I still think Ridge's articles are bias when directed at Hispanics as he is too quick to put rhem down but shpws much more toperance with npn Hispanic players. I hate the fact that he prefers physical players over skilled ones and that he writes artivles for soccer readers. Donovan is wprld class in my eyes and had pne mistake but was the biggest reason Usa made it as far as they did in the W.C. 2010. People like Stuper can learn a lot from you.

  32. Luis Arreola, September 5, 2011 at 9:33 p.m.

    Cristian, sorry I thought you were Super.

  33. Luis Arreola, September 5, 2011 at 9:54 p.m.

    Kent, as you can see there are quite a few Hispanics that notice the bias in Ridge's comments. Cristian, good luck with your kid and I hope to read from him one day. It is sad to see that Mexican clubs have a keener eye on USA Hispanic talent than the USA!! USA is developing for other countries. Keep up the good work. Its good that Hispanic players are not buying into the Academy system and are taking advantage of opportunities with these Mexican clubs. Mexico should have a bigger or at least as big of a youth player system as USA at the very least. Those Mexicans that are here can influence that change in Mexico by funding it or starting leagues out there.

  34. Christian Navarro, September 5, 2011 at 9:55 p.m.

    Luis I apologize as well.

  35. Christian Navarro, September 5, 2011 at 9:56 p.m.

    The funny thing Luis is that my son does not want to go to Mexico regardless of what is offered. He loves his colors and he will be RED, WHITE, and BLUE through and through.

  36. Luis Arreola, September 5, 2011 at 10:12 p.m.

    Cristian, hope your kid doesn't get caught up in USA bias and wish him the best from one Hispanic to another. I wish for my son to play for el Tri personally but knowing him he just wants to play wherever the opportunity rises.

  37. Luis Arreola, September 5, 2011 at 10:25 p.m.

    Ric, I really hope he doesn't go to my Santos. He would actually be on one of the most creative, risk taking, fun to watch teams. Irony.

  38. Kent James, September 6, 2011 at 11:33 p.m.

    Luis, your comments about the stylistic differences (physical v. skill) are fair, and certainly Bradley (for example) seemed afraid to use too many creative players (and was reluctant to give up too much size in the back). And while there are certainly cultural components (with Hispanic cultures preferring creativity, some European cultures (English) preferring physicality), my point is that for most objective coaches, they base their judgments on playing styles, not ethnicity. Bob Bradley does speak fluent Spanish, which is another reason I doubt he's anti-Hispanic. And yes, I saw that he was being considered for the Santos job, which would be quite ironic. Maybe he'll learn to encourage more creativity and we'll all be better off!

  39. Luis Arreola, September 7, 2011 at 12:43 a.m.

    Kent, white people that speak fluent Spanish scare me the most. Lol:) You could be right about Bradley though. I am just a liilttle paranoid because I see the weirdest things at the youth level in Illinois that is hard to not call it bias.But I see your point and it is valid.

  40. Kent James, September 8, 2011 at 3:06 p.m.

    Luis, I think you're much more likely to encounter anti-Hispanic bias at the youth level. While everyone has biases, I think people who operate at the highest levels of coaching had better be pretty open-minded about who they use or they won't be coaching at the highest levels long.

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