Supersub Clint Dempsey led the U.S. to a comprehensive 2-0 win over Costa Rica Saturday night in Arlington, Texas, propelling the Americans to the Gold Cup Final with its best performance of the tournament.
After struggling to find form in the group stages of the event Bruce Arena added six regulars to the roster, advancing past El Salvador in a scrappy affair before his squad finally hit form against Costa Rica, easily the best team the Americans have faced so far in the 2017 Gold Cup.
The Americans came into the CONCACAF Championship looking to unearth some gems for the coming World Cup Qualifiers and hopefully 2018 itself, but make no mistake the U.S. is firmly in “win now” mode as Arena trotted out his “A” team.
From goalkeeper Tim Howard to a defense led by Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez, midfielders Michael Bradley and Darlington Nagbe forwards Jordan Morris and Jozy Altidore, this was a win for the front line troops.
Still, despite an at times dominant performance by the Yanks the Ticos made it to the intermission level with their hosts at zeros.
The U.S. was missing that something special to breach the compact visitor’s defense and that something turned out to be Dempsey. “Deuce” replaced Paul Arriola in the 66th minute and it took Dempsey just six minutes to spring Altidore for the ice breaker.
10 minutes later Dempsey made it 2-0 while making some history, tieing Landon Donovan at the top of the U.S. MNT goal scoring chart with his 57th international goal.
Dempsey’s success off the bench may be the blueprint Arena, now 8-0-5 in his U.S. MNT return uses going forward, maximizing the 34-year-old Texans effectiveness all the way to Russia.
The Americans will face the winner of Mexico vs Jamaica tonight in Pasadena with the final three days later in Santa Clara.
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 2 2
CRC 0 0 0
USA – Jozy Altidore (Clint Dempsey) 72nd minute
USA – Clint Dempsey 82
USA: 24-Tim Howard; 19-Graham Zusi, 3-Omar González, 5-Matt Besler, 2-Jorge Villafaña; 20-Paul Arriola (28-Clint Dempsey, 66), 23-Kelly Acosta (13-Dax McCarty, 85), 26-Michael Bradley (capt.), 25-Darlington Nagbe; 8-Jordan Morris, 27-Jozy Altidore (9-Gyasi Zardes, 83)
Subs not used: 12-Bill Hamid, 4-Matt Miazga, 7-Chris Pontius, 10-Joe Corona, 15-Eric Lichaj, 16-Justin Morrow, 18-Juan Agudelo, 21-Matt Hedges, 29-Jesse González
Head coach: Bruce Arena
CRC: 18-Patrick Pemberton; 6-José Salvatierra (14-Randall Azofeifa, 78), 3-Giancarlo González, 2-Johnny Acosta, 24-Kendall Waston, 15-Francisco Calvo; 10-Bryan Ruiz (capt.), 20-David Guzmán (25-José Leitón, 80), 17-Yeltsin Tejeda (5-Kenner Gutiérrez, 74), 7-David Ramírez; 21-Marco Ureña
Subs not used: 23-Dany Carvajal, 1- Leonel Moreira, 16-Christian Gamboa, 26-Jhamir Ordain, 8-Bryan Oviedo, 4-Michael Umaña, 22-Juan Pablo Vargas, 12-Joel Campbell, 27-Jimmy Marín, 19-Ulises Segura, 14-Rodney Wallace, 9-Ariel Rodríguez, 11-Johan Venegas
Head Coach: Oscar Ramírez
Stats Summary: USA / CRC
Shots: 10 / 7
Shots on Goal: 4 / 2
Saves: 2 / 2
Corner Kicks: 2 / 4
Fouls: 20 / 15
Offside: 1 / 2
USA – Omar González (caution) 61st minute
CRC – Giancarlo González (caution) 67
USA – Jozy Altidore (caution) 72