Shea strike keeps USA perfect in Gold Cup

[USA-COSTA RICA] The USA finished as the only team to win all three of its group games at the 2013 Gold Cup after downing Costa Rica, 1-0, on Tuesday in East Hartford, Conn., on a goal by Brek Shea, who came on as a late sub after a dismal performance in his previous outing.

By finishing atop Group C -- a tie against the Ticos would have been enough after wins over Belize (6-1) and Cuba (4-1) -- the Americans set up a quarterfinal clash against El Salvador in Baltimore on Sunday (4 pm ET, Fox/Univision).

SHEA REBOUND. Shea's career went south after being a Jurgen Klinsmann favorite in 2011, when he appeared in each of Klinsmann’s first seven games. He didn’t even warrant a bio in U.S. Soccer’s 2013 National Team Media Guide. The 23-year-old winger made the Gold Cup roster only because of Joshua Gatt’s injury. He struggled badly against Cuba, but Klinsmann gave him another chance as a 77th-minute sub with the game tied against the Ticos and Shea hit the gamewinner five minutes later.

“I know Brek felt bad about his performance the other night, but full credit to Jurgen for giving him a chance again,” said Landon Donovan, who set up Shea’s goal. “Full credit to Brek for being ready to play and he made the play that made a difference.”

The goal was Shea’s first for the USA in 20 appearances.

SWIFT COUNTERATTACK. The sequence leading to the gamewinner began when U.S. keeper Sean Johnson batted away a Carlos Johnson header following a corner kick. Joe Corona headed the ball down field and reached it again to launch a pass that sent Donovan storming down the right wing. Shea met Donovan’s pass at the edge of the penalty area and beat keeper Patrick Pemberton with a low left-footed shot from 15 yards out.

MIDFIELD SHUFFLE. Klinsmann has tweaked his midfield starting lineup in each Gold Cup game. With Chris Wondolowski at striker, the USA played with a five-man midfield against the Ticos with Donovan high in the center, Jose Torres wide left and Alejandro Bedoya wide right. Behind them played Mix Diskerud and Stuart Holden and that midfield kept possession more than the Ticos, especially on the left, where Torres delivered crisp passes. But Shea’s goal puts him back in contention on the left. Corona started the first two Gold Cup games, played well, and scored a fine goal against Cuba. An 80th-minute sub on Tuesday, he sparked the counter for the winner and could be back as a starter on Sunday over Bedoya. Diskerud fared better than Holden, who could make way for Kyle Beckerman. (Klinsmann said after the game he'd make changes for the quarterfinals, which could mean the departure of Shea to Stoke City and return of national team regulars Graham Zusi, Eddie Johnson and/or Brad Davis in midfield.)

FEW CHANCES. Not counting the handball outside the box that could have warranted a red instead of a yellow, Pemberton needed to make only three saves, all of which were forced by Torres -- a cross that Wondolowski back-heeled to Pemberton and a free kick that Pemberton swatted to Donovan, who shot too weakly back to Pemberton while off balance.

YOUNG KEEPER PASSES TEST. While resting his top two keepers, Tim Howard and Brad Guzan, at this Gold Cup, Klinsmann opted for 34-year-old Nick Rimando in goal for the first two games and gave 24-year-old Johnson the start against the toughest group opponent. Johnson, a Chicago Fire starter since 2010, is vying for the No. 3 spot -- which often goes to a younger keeper -- at the 2014 World Cup. He had to make only two saves, but the one against Carlos Johnson was impressive. And no doubt a confidence boost for the young man best known for giving up the soft goal that eliminated the USA from 2012 Olympic qualifying.

RECORD STREAK. The USA set the record for its longest winning streak in history at eight. The run began with a friendly win over Germany in June, includes World Cup qualifiers over Jamaica, Panama and Honduras, a friendly against Guatemala, and the three Group C Gold Cup triumphs over Belize, Cuba and Costa Rica.

TIEBREAKER. Before Tuesday’s win, the USA and Costa Rica were even in international play with 12 wins each and six ties.

Group C Results:
July 16 in East Hartford, Conn. USA 1 Costa Rica 0. Goal: Shea 82.
USA -- S.Johnson; Parkhurst, Goodson, Orozco Fiscal, Beasley; Holden, Diskerud; Bedoya (Corona, 80), Donovan, Torre (Shea, 77); Wondolowski (Gomez, 77).
Costa Rica -- Pemberton; C.Johnson, Gonzalez, Umana, Diaz; Cunningham, Tejeda, Borges, Miller (Meneses, 68); Wallace (Rodriguez, 71), Arrieta (9-Alvaro Saborio, 77).
Yellow cards: Costa Rica -- Pemberton 55, Cunningham 56, Arrieta 76; Holden 60, Parkhurst 90+.
Referee: Courtney Campbell (Jamaica).
Att.: 25,432.

July 16 in East Hartford, Conn.
Cuba 4 (Martinez 38, 63, 84, Molina 93+) Belize 0.

Group C Standings:
9 USA 3-0-0 11/2
6 Costa Rica 2-0-1 4/1
3 Cuba 1-0-2 5/7
0 Belize 0-0-3 1/11

28 comments about "Shea strike keeps USA perfect in Gold Cup ".
  1. tom brown, July 16, 2013 at 10:56 p.m.

    It was a well played game by two teams who respected each other. Costa Rica went all out for the win & left themselves open. USA caught a break & Donovan made a great pass to Shea who made it look easy. Keeper got a piece of it & it took a USA carom. Good & lucky.

  2. James Froehlich, July 17, 2013 at 12:49 a.m.

    The team is playing reasonably well maybe now we should do something about the announcing. The only thing Cobi does is make me want Taylor Twellman !! Please get rid of both of them and their constant babbling. Don't they ever listen to European announcers to see how to learn to just "Shut up and watch". It would do wonders for their accuracy too.

  3. Kerry Solomon, July 17, 2013 at 8:05 a.m.

    Gentlemen: What were you watching? The team played poorly. No urgency, little movement, poor passing, little movement, few chances, little movement. It appeared that several players were not interested to play the match...notably Holden, Torres & Donovan. These players are the 'creators' and they did little to inspire others by 'turning on their magic' and creating chances for themselves and others. Except for the pass to Shea for the goal not much else occurred by this trio. Holden needs to sit out the next match. Boy, did he struggle! I'm a huge fan of his but he just didn't have much of anything last evening. It will come. Should have gotten Beasley into more overlaps in the second half and should have subbed out most of the midfield at the 60 minute mark.

  4. Dan Eckert, July 17, 2013 at 8:10 a.m.

    OMG - you are so right about the announcers. It is terrible - might I suggest boring as all I hear is a constant droning.

  5. Bill Anderson, July 17, 2013 at 9:36 a.m.

    Kudos for Klinsmann. How he got Shea to even put on the uniform again after his disastrous start against Cuba was the first miracle. Then to get him off the bench and into the game is the second miracle. Then to have Shea score the winning goal is the third miracle. I had written Shea off, and Klinsmann found something in him. Amazing. Simply amazing. What did he say to him? How did he smooth over the previous disastrous outing? I'm boggled. Kudos to Shea for shaking off the WORST performance by a Senior National in the last 15 years and scoring the winning goal. Now, go become a real professional footballer for Stoke.

  6. beautiful game, July 17, 2013 at 10:03 a.m.

    JF, Cobi is bad but, Twellman has no business being behind the mike; he talks too much about nothing and critiques to no end as if he was an expert. Matter of fact, JP Dellacamera needs to retire, his 40+ years is a big question mark in perception and fact. ONE ANNOUNCER will eliminate the chatter.
    K.S. is on point while others continuously try to find excuses or are delusional.

  7. Walt Pericciuoli, July 17, 2013 at 10:03 a.m.

    I thought it was one of the best overall performances of our National side since Klinsi came on board. Torres and Diskerud were outstanding.The back 4 played an almost flawless game especially Orozco and Beasley.A couple of guys had some weak moments, but the "team" did very well. The subs for Wondo,Bedoya and Torres were well timed and their replacements all contributed to the final push for the win. Some of these guys are making a strong case for their inclusion to the full WC side.Lets see if it continues moving forward.

  8. Scott O'Connor, July 17, 2013 at 10:12 a.m.

    This game was not poorly played. We dominated the possession. Costa Rica had one chance the whole game and we ran it back down their throat and scored the winning goal off a devastating counter attack. The game was way more tactical than either Belize or Cuba could ever be. Costa Rica is a quality side and very strong defensively. No goals since Clint Dempsey in March? That's impressive and I could see why. They are very organized and hard to break down. I'm a bit concerned about our match with them in San Juan where they will be just as organized but have a rabid crowd urging them to destroy us (the only blessing about that game is that they didn't put it at Saprissa stadium which is a nightmare to play in for visitors).

  9. Scott O'Connor, July 17, 2013 at 10:26 a.m.

    After a quality performance by the back 4 does Klinsman dump a couple guys and bring in the Besler-Gonzalez duo to give them some more big games together building them up to the center back pair for Brazil? Does he bring in Zusi? Who does he dump to bring him in? Also, who would Zusi kick to the bench (you wouldn't bring in a guy from his club not to play him). For me Torres is not dangerous enough. I'd put Zusi in his place. Answering the question about how Donovan and Zusi might play on the same squad with the "big" team.

  10. Alberto Mora, July 17, 2013 at 11:01 a.m.

    I love to see the exciting attitude of some of you folks in your comments, the reality is that the Gold Cup this year let us see how far all the participants are from the World Cup competition,for some teams is the opportunity to find out how much technical work needs the youth, for the learning fans to fill up the stadiums the ticket prices should be lower to made it worth to go. About the announcers we may have to import them, a good job opportunity for bilingual people.

  11. Kerry Ogden, July 17, 2013 at 11:03 a.m.

    Kerry S. has the best assessment in the group, felt the same watching the game myself & Dan E. was funny, yeah I absolutely hate listening to the American announcers, I usually turn the volume off & listen to music when they're on! Good points by all!

  12. David Parsons, July 17, 2013 at 11:03 a.m.

    Generally not a good performance, but in a sign of progress, USA still dominated. Parkhurst is the most static player I've ever seen. I was yelling at the TV for him to move! I see Torres with the ball looking forward, and every player ahead of him was standing watching (if they moved it was after he needed to make a decision). It's just naive soccer.

    Kerry has it right. No movement by players to receive the ball. The progress is that we still dominated possession and won the game. We need to develop more Joe Corona's.

  13. Steven McDonald, July 17, 2013 at 12:09 p.m.

    Didn't have problem with commentators but then again I followed the match on UniMas.(This second language thing comes in real handy sometimes). As for the performance, I'm thrilled the US came away with a W. Would prefer Wondo as the "off" forward to give him more freedom. Like Donovan as right mid better but Zusi has been very good with WCQ's. Torres is better inside than out wide. He needs more time in the first team. I've been a fan but Holden is not ready yet. Shea to me is like Bedoya, better as a late game sub. He doesn't look as good on the left side as E.Johnson, F.Johnson or even Beasley would. Beckerman was ok but still behind many others. The back four won't stop any top teams. Parkhurst, Goodson , and Orozco Fiscal wont be taking any spots from first teamers. Beasley's heart and hustle have to admired. It's what keeps him from being toast all match long.

  14. Steven McDonald, July 17, 2013 at 12:19 p.m.

    Anyone have any idea how the quarters were chosen? Was there something about group members not playing each other in the quarters. Just would prefer some other team than El Salvador in Baltimore. So much for home field atmosphere. They always seem to play our boys tough.

  15. R2 Dad, July 17, 2013 at 12:24 p.m.

    Movement off the ball has always been a weakness for the USMNT--part of the reason they have been so predictable in the past. A couple of the U teams seem be be better in that regard but still nowhere near the world-class level that separates us from France/Spain/Germany.
    Prefer Macca behind the microphone rather than TT, would like to see Steve Nicol given a chance; I don't find either of them too glib.

  16. Kent James, July 17, 2013 at 12:35 p.m.

    I'm a bit surprised by the negativity in the comments. Our B team played well against a traditionally tough foe. The game was quite good, as both teams played very hard and attacked aggressively (which is amazing, given the 90 degree heat). While we did not get as many shots as I'd have liked, we were doing some very good things (many times we beat them on the flanks and put low crosses that only desperate defending prevented from being shots on goal). I thought Torres had the best match he's had for the US, with lots of combination play (and he created many of the situations that led to crosses). Although I've not been a fan of Goodson, he also played well. Donovan didn't do much until his world class assist that won the game, but I think Donovan actually does better in counter-attacking situations than in games in which we dominate possession. But overall, I'd rate it a pretty good outing. As for Cobi, liked him as a player, but he's not the greatest announcer; Taylor is better. I hope that with time, both will become better (primarily by talking less).

  17. Chris Sapien , July 17, 2013 at 1:10 p.m.

    I think most of any difficiencies were due to playing a third match in eight days. Both teams were lathargic for long spells, but given that, don't we still commend the US for dominating possession?? Afterall, the other team is less likely to score if they don't possess the ball, right? Scott O., you my friend again killed it! Costa Rica goes over 800 minutes without allowing a goal, and people want to *itch that we didn't create chances? What were all those crosses through the top of the six yard area then?? In addition we had double the amount of shots, nearly double on frame. And all this without any really true wide players in the starting midfield. (certainly that is a good argument why we didn't create corners as well) Changes I'd like to see before the Knock-outs; Drop Ashe, Bruin, Beltran & Parkhurst, bring in Zusi, Evans, Gonzalez and Besler. We really do need more out of our Right Back like David P. says.

  18. Scott O'Connor, July 17, 2013 at 1:33 p.m.

    Couldn't care less about the commentators. Perhaps they need their own site.....

  19. Judith Macaluso, July 17, 2013 at 1:35 p.m.

    Great comments, gang. No one has mentioned one of my huge peeves, tho'. I hate it when American announceers say "the United States are." It's unbearably pretentious and is also flat-out wrong. Not to mention that we fought the Civil War over whether that verb would be singular or plural. Stop it already!

  20. Kerry Solomon, July 17, 2013 at 2:43 p.m.

    Thank you, Scott. Even though it's hard to listen to sometimes, who cares about the's the team that should be our concern. By the way, if these announcers are bad, then try being a Pittsburgh Penguins fan and have to listen to the goofball announcers on NBC & NBC Sports. They obviously hate the Pens. Sorry, had to vent. To those of you who think I'm tough on our USMNT, please keep in mind that I have attended 63 matches over the last thirty years and I'll be in Columbus. Been to Cleveland and Washington, DC this year already. I'm a rabid fan who lives and dies by the USMNT. They're my only vice!!! You will not find a more devoted fan...that is why I'm critical sometimes. Love the USMNT and wish them tremendous success in the future!!!

  21. Chris Sapien , July 17, 2013 at 2:55 p.m.

    That's a bunch of CAPs Kerry......Well done!!

  22. Kerry Solomon, July 17, 2013 at 2:56 p.m.

    Chris S. has a point about the number of games in a short period of time but there is a pretty good sized roster so this shouldn't happen...especially the way Klinsi mixes up the starting lineups. AND possession does not always translate into chances or victory. It's great to dominate for long periods of time but if it doesn't net results then it's not worth much. How many times have you seen a team dominate and lose?? I may be an optimist but attack often and strike at goal as much as possible. That brings victory almost always.

  23. Kerry Solomon, July 17, 2013 at 3 p.m.

    Chris S. please tells me you're not a CAPS fan. I'll lose respect for you. LOL

  24. Chris Sapien , July 17, 2013 at 4:47 p.m.

    CAPs, as in your number of games attended....,
    we use the term freely to describe how many games we've been to as US fans/American Outlaws. (I gave up Hockey when my beloved Kings traded for hated Gretzky in '88....Long Story)

  25. Charles Stamos, July 17, 2013 at 4:54 p.m.

    Good effort and result. This has all been to see who will be there for the next Concacaf games and Brazil. Look for the US to get some 1-0 and 2-1 knockout wins. Donovan, Beasley and Wondo have earned A team spots. Will want to see which middie and back line players shine in the next 3 games. Shea Holden Rimando et al on the fence

  26. Kerry Solomon, July 17, 2013 at 7:38 p.m.

    Chris: I understand CAPS because my friedn, John and I kid each other about how many CAPS we each have, Sorry about the Kings/Gretzky. That was tough but we had/have the best two-way player and now owner, Mario Lemieux. I've only seen two loses in all of the matches I've attended...Ghana at the WC in Germany and Belgium in Cleveland. Otherwise it's been all wins & ties. It's been great fun and I hope it goes on for years to come. Go USMNT and by the way, the USWNT is awesome also.

  27. beautiful game, July 17, 2013 at 7:39 p.m.

    Scott et al, possession is important and if with it the players can't make things happen, than the quality of the possession becomes a question mark. Decision-making and execution are key factors and if they lack the expected quality, than the performance can't be measured otherwise. If the moment is not seized, how can anyone say anything positive.

  28. Chris Sapien , July 17, 2013 at 9:44 p.m.

    I figured you did Kerry.....

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