Ticos Top USA as World Cup Window Narrows
Ticos Top USA as World Cup Window Narrows avatar

Harrison, N.J. – “I thought they outplayed us and outcoached us,” is how U.S. MNT coach Bruce Arena put it after his team lost 2-0 to Costa Rica, and it was hard to disagree.

With that in mind here are a few thoughts on the game.

1) Start Dempsey in the Big Games

Dempsey as a super sub was the big takeaway from the summer’s Gold Cup and it makes sense. However, Arena said at the time that he would use the veteran from the start or off of the bench going forward, depending on the circumstances.

Dempsey came on in the 65th minute. (ISI Photos/Howard C Smith)

It is easy to say in hindsight but in a game of this magnitude and against Costa Rica, the best team in CONCACAF the past few years, more Dempsey, not less, was required.

As it was Deuce had the Ticos airtight defense scrambling once he entered the fray in the 65th minute. Dempsey is still the player who scores the big goals for the U.S. He might have done it Friday night if he had been allotted 65 minutes, not 35.

2) Real Madrid Goalkeeper Outplayed the Colorado Rapids Netminder

This is not to bury Tim Howard, an American soccer legend but legend or not, Howard should never have been beaten on the opening goal and although not to blame for the second, a big save there would have kept U.S. hopes alive.

Keylor Navas was solid for Costa Rica. (ISI Photos/John Todd)

As for Keylor Navas, the Madrista keeper showed why he was recently nominated for the FIFA BEST award with a pair of second half saves that were just part of his overall outstanding performance.

The first came off of a deflected Christian Pulisic shot in the 67th minute. Navas somehow got a hand and a foot to the Pulisic effort, which came from a Dempsey free kick and looked a certain goal.

Then in the 81st minute, Geoff Cameron’s lovely chipped pass found Altidore behind the Ticos largely impenetrable defense only to see the Toronto striker rebuffed by Navas.

One minute later Cameron’s careless pass out of the back was picked off and Howard was unable to provide the heroics to deny San Jose Earthquakes striker Marco Urena his, and his team’s second goal.

3) Don’t Blame the Venue

There was plenty of chatter during and after the match that the U.S. had erred in playing this game at Red Bull Arena. Too many Costa Rican fans turned this game into a virtual home game for the visitors, went the argument.

And the sights and sound in the latter stages of Friday’s match lent credence to that viewpoint. The first 29 minutes plus, however, told a different story.

U.S. fans during the match against Costa Rica. (ISI Photos/Howard C Smith)

Before Urena scored the game’s first goal in the 30th minute, Red Bull Arena was loudly, proudly pro USA! USA! USA! The American Outlaws supporters group was making a racket and with the Yanks dominating possession the New Jersey stadium was playing very much like a home game.

If the U.S. had converted one of several chances in that opening half an hour then Taylor Twellman would have had no complaints about the crowd.

4) Jozy, Jozy, Jozy?!

After the match, U.S. striker Jozy Altidore expressed his dismay at the yellow card he was presented with late in the match, a caution that will force Altidore to miss Tuesday’s crucial match in Honduras.

Altidore has only himself to blame for his suspension.  (ISI Photos/Howard C Smith)

He should have saved his breath. In the 80th minute incident, Altidore rushed at Johan Venegas after the whistle only to see the Minnesota United midfielder crumble to the ground at Altidore’s slight touch. What did Altidore expect? The veteran U.S. international should have known better and has only himself to blame.

The U.S. is fortunate that Clint Dempsey’s late elbow didn’t connect with a Costa Rica defender in added time or Arena could have been down another attacker against Honduras on Tuesday.

– U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report –

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 0 0
CRC 1 1 2

CRC – Marco Ureña (Bryan Ruiz) 30th minute
CRC – Marco Ureña (David Guzman) 82

USA: 1-Tim Howard; 19-Graham Zusi (18-Jordan Morris, 84), 20-Geoff Cameron, 14-Tim Ream, 2-Jorge Villafaña (8-Clint Dempsey, 65); 10-Christian Pulisic (21-Paul Arriola, 87), 6-Darlington Nagbe, 4-Michael Bradley (capt.), 23-Fabian Johnson; 9-Bobby Wood, 17-Jozy Altidore
Subs not used: 12-Brad Guzan, 22-Nick Rimando, 3-Omar González, 5-Matt Besler, 7-DaMarcus Beasley, 11-Alejandro Bedoya, 13-Dax McCarty, 15-Eric Lichaj, 16-Kellyn Acosta
Head coach: Bruce Arena

CRC: 1-Keylor Navas; 16-Cristian Gamboa (6-José Salvatierra, 71), 15-Francisco Calvo, 2-Johnny Acosta, 19-Kendall Waston, 8-Bryan Oviedo (11-Johan Venegas, 78); 7-Cristian Bolaños (4-Michael Umaña, 71), 20-David Guzman, 5-Celso Borges, 10-Bryan Ruiz (capt.); 21-Marco Ureña
Subs not used: 18-Patrick Pemberton, 23-Leonel Moreira, 3-Kenner Gutierrez, 9-José Ortiz, 12-David Ramirez, 13-Rodney Wallace, 14-Randall Azofeifa, 17-Yeltsin Tejeda, 22-Daniel Colindres
Head coach: Óscar Ramírez

Stats Summary: USA / CRC
Shots: 14 / 9
Shots on Goal: 2 / 2
Saves: 0 / 2
Corner Kicks: 3 / 2
Fouls: 10 / 18
Offside: 3 / 1

Misconduct Summary:
CRC – David Guzman (caution) 13th minute
CRC – Francisco Calvo (caution) 67
USA – Jozy Altidore (caution) 80
USA – Clint Dempsey (caution) 90+1

Fifth & Final Round (Hexagonal)

Mexico – x 17 5 0 2 10 2 +8
Costa Rica 14 4 1 2 11 4 +7
United States 8 2 3 2 11 10 +1
Honduras 8 2 3 2 8 15 -7
Panama 7 1 2 4 4 5 -1
Trinidad & Tobago 3 1 6 0 4 12 -8
x – Qualified for 2018 FIFA World Cup

About Peter Nolan

Peter Nolan is a staff writer for the GotSoccer Magazine, covering MLS and other US leagues, He's GotSoccer's chief National Team Correspondent.
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