Arena: 'They out-played us and out-coached us'

Costa Rica's 2-0 win left the USA back in the pack with Honduras and Panama fighting for the third automatic berth from Concacaf in the 2018 World Cup, and U.S. coach Bruce Arena wasn't afraid to say who was at fault.

"We obviously didn't play well on the night," Arena said. "We didn't make any plays that mattered. We were probably outplayed in most positions on the field and didn't capitalize on several opportunities. We didn't have a good night. I thought they out-played us and out-coached us."

The game changed in the 30th minute when Marco Urena scored the first of two goals. He clinched the win in the 82nd minute after Geoff Cameron, the USA's most experienced defender, turned the ball over.

First goal: 'We got split with our center backs'

Arena was missing only two starters -- both on the backline. Graham Zusi and Tim Ream replaced DeAndre Yedlin and John Brooks. Ream came in for a lot of criticism, but Arena said he was solid.

On Urena's first goal, Ream and Michael Bradley pushed Urena wide after Bryan Ruiz found Urena following a long clearance from Tim Howard in goal.

"It didn't look like he got much on the shot," said Arena of Urena. "Tim [Howard] perhaps lost his angle in the goal and [Urena] was able to roll it in. The play developed when Ruiz handled the ball in the middle of the center of the field, and the play went on and we got split with our center backs, which shouldn't happen."

Bradley-Nagbe pairing: 'I thought Darlington and Michael had solid games"

The one tactical wrinkle Arena threw out was inserting Darlington Nagbe with Bradley in midfield.

"Darlington and Michael were not the problems in our game tonight," Arena said. "The backline made some mistakes. We didn't come up with any big saves. Our attack players weren't dangerous on the night. I thought Darlington and Michael had solid games."

Pulisic: 'He had a tough game'

Christian Pulisic was pushed wide and failed to have an impact on the game. His best chance was stopped spectacularly by keeper Keylor Navas in the 67th minute.

"He had a tough game today," Arena said. "They paid a lot of attention to him. You could see early in the game that they always sent a second player to him. He got a little frustrated."

Tico tactics: 'They did a good job'

Arena gave a tip of the hat to the Ticos for their game plan.

"They came out with a very aggressive posture and pressed us up the field and, after conceding that first goal, they weren't going to come out a whole lot," Arena said. "We had to try and break down seven, eight players for long periods of the game. They did a good job. Navas made one very good save. We had a couple of plays where we have to put the ball in the back of the net and it's 1-0. We didn't do that. And we made a big mistake turning the ball over for the second goal."

31 comments about "Arena: 'They out-played us and out-coached us'".
  1. Bret Newman, September 2, 2017 at 8:11 a.m.

    I just got word that Bruce Arena was fired, and Klinsmann got rehired again...or was it Bob Bradley. Anyway, can't wait to hear the coach potatoes call out for Arena's head, on a silver platter.

  2. R2 Dad replied, September 2, 2017 at 3:26 p.m.

    All the ESPN talking heads were lamenting the absence of aggressive/physical Jermaine Jones. Apparently no one is allowed to say "Nasty".

  3. John Schubert, September 2, 2017 at 10:06 a.m.

    Nagbe had one very good run to the 18 that didn't result in any thing and Bradley took a shot at the 18 that was blocked. Otherwise, they were both non factors. Pulisic played his heart out without a lot of help from anyone. Ream and Cameron again show they just aren't good enough at this level. The best defender was Zusi, a midfielder moved to defense. Blaming the goal keeping for defensive let downs was unacceptable. There may be better players out due to injury or suspensions but I doubt their presence would make up for the normal starters that are just not good enough.

  4. Daniel Clifton, September 2, 2017 at 12:06 p.m.

    At least Bruce accepts responsibility and doesn't throw anybody under the bus. The USA did not look ready to play. That was a really disappointing performance.

  5. Wooden Ships replied, September 2, 2017 at 1:21 p.m.

    We looked like we won before we played. Already had 3 penciled in. JA and BW are too alike to be up top, in my thinking. In some respects they cancelled each other out. Combination play with each other is mostly non-existent. How many times have they been the tandem and has it ever been effective?

  6. Nick Daverese replied, September 2, 2017 at 2:13 p.m.

    I thought what Bruce said took soccer balls. In the past he used to throw a player under the bus. So he has even become a better coach in my eyes. I am sure this team will be fine.

  7. frank schoon replied, September 3, 2017 at 11:30 a.m.

    Ships, AMEN....

  8. Christine Rico, September 2, 2017 at 1:32 p.m.

    Coach Arena had to take responsibility. I vote Coach Klinsmann back any day! He made major changes needed for USA to start becoming a force. It's sad that we didn't give him a good solid chance. Instead, we go backwards just because the players don't like a tough Coach that requires commitment, work ethic and guarantee spot just because you were a star...Landon supporters! I had hope for USA...until we went back to Coach Arena...Players even acted bad on field getting unnecessary yellow cards. Need a solid Coach who leads well a clearly underdog USA team.

  9. Andrew Kear replied, September 4, 2017 at 11 a.m.

    The USMNT is in this mess due to Klinsmann's 0-2 start that put the US in this mess to begin with.

  10. Nick Daverese, September 2, 2017 at 2:16 p.m.

    Klinnesmann may coach here again some where. But he will never coach a team in Germany again.

  11. Zabivaka Sobaka replied, September 2, 2017 at 5:47 p.m.

    It is Klinsmann not Klinnesmann

  12. Mikhail Pecherskiy, September 2, 2017 at 2:24 p.m.

    Tim Howard was miserable again the first goal was completely his fault. I think his age is taking its toll it is a time for him to go

  13. Nick Daverese replied, September 2, 2017 at 3:56 p.m.

    Let Howard go to be replaced by who?

  14. Larry Milnes, September 2, 2017 at 3:11 p.m.

    Like a lot of viewers, I suspect, I wanted to keep an eye on Pulisic. When he was on the ball he was quickly smothered and as these incidents happened over and over, he should have had more release options earlier as CR clearly had his number and a good plan for shutting him down. How is this different than playing for Dortmund? Dortmund gives support. Watch the reruns. Look for how many times Pulisic made those fabulous runs for a pass, that get him in the open or one-on-one. Count the number of times he was given a pass into a numbers-up situation and no following run to support the pass. Watch specifically how many times Bradley looked up, saw Pulisic making a diagonal run towards open space, waving his arm high to signal for the pass, able to beat and get behind a defender from one of those remarkable passes from Bradley, only to see Bradley look away and and ignore the advantage, pass square, and lose possession half the time. Bradley will not play to Pulisic. The US players did not give him options, and he did not really look for help that often while putting his head down and taking on too many defenders, too many times. He is young, he has time to learn, and it will all come together. The problem currently impeding his being much more effective with the national team is the inability of the others to understand how to play at his level and speed, and for MB to get over his arrogance. Just count the times CP continued to make quality runs and how many times he was denied support from team play. Sad. Seems the US players also wanted to watch his magic. Excepting MB of course.

  15. Nick Daverese, September 2, 2017 at 3:54 p.m.

    Your only as good as the players your playing with. With Dortmund he is playing with one of the best teams in the world. So naturally he will be better playing with them then the US.

  16. Kent James replied, September 2, 2017 at 10:41 p.m.

    While Dortmund players are obviously excellent players, he's played well with the US players in the past, so he can play well with US players. While Pulisic did not have an awful game, his touch was a bit off tonight (not sure why; CR certainly paid close attention and hammered him a few times, but he did not give up nor seem intimidated). He just didn't provide the magic we were hoping for (and have become accustomed to). I hope he recovers enough to play against Honduras. The one challenge was particularly nasty (and the CR player should have been red-carded, had the ref seen it; in the ref's defense, I didn't see it until the instant replay).

  17. Mark Wallis, September 2, 2017 at 4:04 p.m.

    I was very disappointed in the level of maturity and shortage of functioning brain cells of two players late in the game. Professor Altidore body-ejected his opponent for a yellow and will miss the next game. Soon to be professor emeritus Clint Dempsey showed his best MMA form with an elbow to the face of his rival and got a yellow, which could easily have been a red.

    When are some of these players going to grow up and think of the consequences of their actions?

  18. Delroy Wallace, September 2, 2017 at 4:05 p.m.

    Face facts. The team is not at an acceptable level because the players are not good enough for quality international standards. Weak in all areas.

  19. Ben Myers replied, September 2, 2017 at 4:13 p.m.

    I have to agree. As a test, ask which of the USMNT would even make the national team of any of the top ten as ranked by FIFA, let alone be a starter? Pulisic, probably, despite a sub-standard match v Costa Rica. Anybody else?

  20. Zabivaka Sobaka replied, September 2, 2017 at 8:59 p.m.

    Just look at FIFA17 index and you'll see where our talent level stands. We are definitely overachieving.....and Tim Howard needs to go, he is affecting team negatively and things he is saying off the field are not helping either

  21. John Hofmann, September 2, 2017 at 5:01 p.m.

    The match officials seemed to do a reasonable job, but some concern might be raised about the potential problem missing call on Josie's first half knock in the Costa Rican goal and the number of pretty heavy fouls. The question I have, and no one has said anything about - the referee was from Panama, a team that was within one point of the U.S. at the beginning of the game, and also will be playing us next month. This seems insane to me, to have a ref from one of three countries competing for the third spot in WCQ, in charge of a a competitor's game. To me it would seem absolutely necessary to have the ref from some un-involved country. Consider the potential pressure on a Panamanian ref from his countryman, who have never gone to a WC. This is where he presumably lives and will the rest of his life. Is that a positive impact, even for an honest official? Would any of the other countries competing directly against the U.S. for a possible berth accept a U.S. ref for their game at this stage? I'm assuming it would be an international incident... If our confederation can't provide independent refs (from outside directly involved countries) for a particular match, it would seem they should be doing something about it. Is this a regular occurrence?

  22. Kent James replied, September 3, 2017 at 9:29 a.m.

    Other than the missed red card (for the foul that put studs on the middle of Pulisic's leg) and the missed PK, I thought the referee crew was fine ("other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?"). But you're absolutely right, there is a very clear conflict of interest (assuming referees love their country and are interested in soccer). Referees for qualifying matches should be from countries outside the region, so there is no potential for impugning the referees integrity. The job is hard enough without that.

  23. Zabivaka Sobaka, September 2, 2017 at 5:48 p.m.

    Is Tim Howard a dual citizen?

  24. Allan Lindh, September 2, 2017 at 5:53 p.m.

    Costa Rico was the better team, simple as that. Question is can we get third. And there our competitor is Panama. And who provided the crew for last night's match? The US is always playing a man short, when we play Central American teams, with Central American refs. Fact of life. And truth be told, almost all of those Central American countries have good reason to hate Yankees, given the conduct of our government toward them over the last 100 years.

  25. Allan Lindh replied, September 3, 2017 at 12:37 a.m.

    Sorry, I disagree. The ref let CR run rough. Guzman should have had a yellow in first few minutes, he didn't even call a foul. Palusic was hit hard half a dozen times, I don't remember a card. It's the same every time, can't blame em, they have honest grounds to want to get even when they can. Just once you'd think we'd get a Canadian ref. But CR was clearly the better side, just would be nice to see one match called fair.

  26. Ric Fonseca, September 2, 2017 at 9:49 p.m.

    What, someone questioning T. Howard's birth? So what if he is or isn't!!! Allan, I'd recommend that we not inject social-political history into soccer commentary. I must say that it doesn't necessarily take cojones to admit we played like crap and were simply out coached, my wife and I saw that and all I could think of is that the US went into the game way overconfident, thinking that just 'cause the game was staged in NJ, that Costa Rica would automatically roll over knowing full well that they'd pick up three more points and still go to Russia. Who appoints the game officials, this comes from FIFA, though I agree that as a former ref/assessor one must develop some hard skin, and be as neutral as hell, yet, it should not be used as an excuse for the US's lackadaisical play and lack of urgency in the first half and only "show up to play" in the second. Lastly, I sure as hell do not understand why BA has used Deuce Dempsey late in the 2nd half, 'cause I am sure the CR Coach knew this and prepared, heck I'd played him from the git go, and as for Altidore, sorry folks, but he should not return to the team after his suspension, and the Deuce must learn to play more maturely! Now, can anyone say "k-a-r-m-a?"

  27. Kent James, September 2, 2017 at 10:50 p.m.

    I think Arena's comments are right; I'm also glad he stuck up for Ream. On the goal, Ream was out wide to get the ball from Howard (who gave it away) so he was not out of position (we had possession of the ball), and CR took advantage countering with pace. Ream recovered, and stayed with Urena through two good efforts to shake him off, then Ream pushed him wide (which should have been enough). And most of the night he was dominant in the air, and stepping up to intercept or put CR players under pressure. So if the only criteria for evaluating him is that the man he was covering scored a goal, then he had a lousy game. But I agree with Bruce; he was pretty solid. Cameron, on the other hand, did have a lousy game (and usually I think he's our best defender with the ball, but boy did he give it away a lot during the game).

  28. Wooden Ships replied, September 3, 2017 at 8:12 a.m.

    I saw it ( Ream ) the way you did Kent.

  29. Eve Montgomery, September 3, 2017 at 3:26 a.m.

    We didn't give Klinnsman "a good solid chance"??? Wth? Years and years passed. I repeat: years and years. Not sure what mind-altering weed some are smoking.

  30. Nick Daverese, September 3, 2017 at 6:12 a.m.

    I do think you have to coach from the back to the front. By that I mean you want to be well spaced and have depth so you are hard to score against. Never ever want to lose on a counter attack or a mistake by a back or a keeper. So you have to put a lot of time on the practice field on that aspect of the game besides the attacking side. I believe you do that by having a dual theme practice. Also you lose games if you match up badly against an opponent. So see a bad match up get a player in there that matches up better. Want to score put your best against there worst. On Christen see they are over playing him. Then use him as a decoy and attack from somewhere else. Plus never play low pressure. Low pressure against people who can play is the same as no pressure.

  31. Bob Ashpole replied, September 3, 2017 at 1:57 p.m.

    Nick, the language is different but I see a lot of what you say in the classic Dutch Style tactics. Their attacking shape leaves them in good position if the ball is lost. They press to make the field smaller for the opponent. As you indicate low pressure (aka delayed high pressure) gives the opponent the initiative and lots of space to play in. It is not a surprise to me, because I believe good soccer is the same everywhere and speaks its own language.

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