USMNT Report: A Nightmarish Result

An invisible USMNT falls 3-1 to Costa Rica in a CONCACAF World Cup Qualifier
by Herb Scribner   |   Saturday, September 07, 2013

USMNT Report - coverage of the United States Men's National Team

Everything that the United States Men’s National Team built over the summer months was wiped away last night.

The USA, troubled by the injury to midfield general Michael Bradley and a sluggish performance, lost 3-1 to Costa Rica at Estadio Nacional in San Jose, Costa Rica, in a CONCACAF World Cup Qualifier.

Few positives were shown in the loss, and the United States has only until Tuesday to right the ship as a date with Mexico looms.

POST-GAME REACTIONS: The loss to Costa Rica shows the ups and downs of World Cup qualifying, according to Landon Donovan.

“Every time this process goes on it's never easy, always unpredictable,” Donovan said. “There are a lot of ups and downs. We've been on ups recently and now this is a down. We'll have to see how we recover and see what we're made of. … We're playing Mexico in a must win game for them and we need to see how we respond.”

Goalkeeper Tim Howard said the team’s been building towards the Mexico match over the last 3 years.

“We're going to have to have guys step up, there's no question,” he said. “I think we've talked about it over the last 3 years: we build toward this every game, so a guy can step in and not miss a beat and get the cohesion right.”

MAN OF THE MATCH: Landon Donovan – No USMNT players overwhelmingly deserves the honor, but Donovan made the most of his chances in the 2nd half. The Los Angeles Galaxy star made sprints up the field and pressured the Ticos, which was more than anything many of the other Americans had done in the majority of the contest.

ANALYSIS: This is the last result USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann and his squad wanted going into Tuesday’s game with Mexico.

Not only were the Americans handed a loss – which the team could afford, seeing as the Americans led the CONCACAF Hexagonal and are on a sure path towards qualification – but they were completely outplayed from the opening whistle. It wasn’t just an unlucky result; the Ticos owned the game throughout.

This wasn’t just a simple loss that the United States can chalk up to being on the road and against a hungry Costa Rica team. There were huge flaws in the game that show how inept and careless the USA can be.

Bradley’s injury was another dark moment for the USA, and it even shone light on how unprepared the team is for such an important player to be taken out of the lineup. Klinsmann didn’t do his team any favors, either, when he replaced Bradley with Geoff Cameron after the AS Roma player’s pre-game injury. Cameron hasn’t offered much to the USA in these recent run of games. Kyle Beckerman or Mix Diskerud might have yielded a better result.

More issues crept up regarding the backline. Matt Besler was the worst of the bunch, as his sluggish play led to Costa Rica’s 2nd and 3rd goals. His naivety as a young defender also gave him a yellow card, which means Besler, who has been a starting defender for the USA throughout the summer and last spring, will miss the Mexico game.

DaMarcus Beasley didn’t offer anything positive on the left side, either. He failed to head the ball from the near post on a free kick, which led to Costa Rica’s opening goal, and he wasn’t anywhere in the attacking third. Beasley’s too soft of a defender, and his mistakes have outweighed his positives in the last few games. Having played as a natural wide midfielder for 30 years, it’s not all to surprising that he makes these errors in the backline. You’d think Klinsmann would see this too by now.

The United States was also invisible on the offensive end. Other than Donovan’s streaking runs and Clint Dempsey’s penalty strike, the USA struggled to get anything going. The Americans sent in crosses from the wings when no striker was waiting for them. Even Jozy Altidore, who also was foolishly booked and will miss the Mexico game, couldn’t get help the US find its footing.

It’s also disheartening for the USMNT and its fans that this loss comes after a 12-game winning streak, which led many to believe the US had risen above many of the CONCACAF minnows and was surely the team to beat.

But if there’s a silverlining, it’s that Mexico, the other CONCACAF giant, fell to Honduras 2-1 last night. Mexico’s already hindered chances of qualifying for the World Cup took another major step backwards, surely as did El Tri’s confidence, surely as the Mexican Federation parted ways with manager Jose Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre, too. So thankfully for the bruised USA there is a lot of confusion and uncertainty going on south of the border.

Which makes Tuesday’s game even more important. USA needs to beat its regional rival if it wants to qualify for the World Cup. With a win – and a Honduras win or draw to Panama, the Yanks would put themselves on path to Brazil.

If the USA can rise above its recent loss and get back to the professional performances it showed in the summer, Tuesday’s match with Mexico might fall in the Americans’ favor. Who knows, maybe this was just the right time for the USA to get a wakeup call. Better we’re talking about this today than next Wednesday.

NEXT UP: September 10 – World Cup Qualifier: United States vs. Mexico, Columbus Crew Stadium, Columbus, Ohio. 8 p.m. EST, ESPN, UniMas.


UMass Amherst
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SN managing editor and award-winning journalist, Herb has always been known as "The Soccer Guy" wherever he goes. He's a leftback in most outdoor and indoor leagues. He also writes for Deseret News National.