Friendly match report: USMNT 0-1 Costa Rica

Following Saturday’s heartbreaking loss to Mexico, the US men’s national team faced off against Costa Rica in a friendly at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey.


Jurgen Klinsmann brought Tim Howard into the team for the first time since the Everton goalie’s epic World Cup performance against Belgium. The back line featured Brad Evans on the right, Geoff Cameron and Michael Orozco in the middle, and Tim Ream on the left. DeAndre Yedlin started on the right of midfield with Brek Shea on the left. Jermaine Jones and Danny Williams partnered in the center with Gyasi Zardes and captain Jozy Altidore leading the line.

Keylor Navas started in goal for Costa Rica behind a back line of Johnny Acosta, Oscar Duarte, Kendall Waston, and Bryan Oviedo. Cristian Gamboa, David Guzman, Johan Venegas and Celso Borges made up the midfield behind Marco Urena and Joel Campbell.

 First half

Although the match began slowly, disturbing patterns quickly emerged, and they would set the tone for the entire match.

Costa Rica was dominant in midfield, where Jones and Williams were stunningly disconnected and at times inept. Borges was continually able to find huge amounts of space and play in Campbell cutting in from the right.

Defensively, Costa Rica executed a relaxed, but full-field press that confounded the US. Time after time, the Americans could not move the ball out of the back and resorted to long blasts upfield.

In the 17th minute, Acosta slid in with two feet on Williams and should have been sent off, but was relieved to see an early caution.

In the 28th minute, Costa Rica shredded the left side of the US defense to put a cross into the center. A half-clearance fell to Yedlin but he was easily brushed off the ball, with the resulting shot tame and directly at Howard.

The best American chance came in the 30th minute. Altidore earned a foul wide on the right and Brek Shea’s free kick was headed just wide of the back post by Tim Ream.

Kendall Waston somehow escaped a yellow three minutes later after he clotheslined Brek Shea. It continued a policy of allowing the Costa Ricans to physically intimidate the US in the final third.

In the 37th, Jermaine Jones picked up his yellow to stop a break after a miscommunication with Brad Evans. Moments later, Borges was unmarked 22 yards from goal but his shot was directly at Howard.

Costa Rica’s best chance of the half came in the 43rd minute after yet another all-too-simple move up the right. A cross from the endline found Venegas two yards from goal, but Brad Evans slid across the goal line to keep the scoreline even.

Second half

Ventura Alvarado replaced Geoff Cameron and Mix Diskerud came on for Jermaine Jones at halftime, however the personnel changes made little difference.

Three minutes into the half, Orozco misplayed a bouncer and Alvarado was forced to make a last ditch tackle to halt Urena’s breakaway.

Six minutes later, Diskerud and Jones abandoned the center and Campbell waltzed toward goal and fired a lefty blast that Tim Howard batted over the net.

Urena should have put Costa Rica ahead in the 68th minute when he cut behind Spector and in front of Orozco to meet a low cross from the left. The striker put his touch just wide of goal, but Joel Campbell would not make the same mistake two minutes later.

In the 70th minute, substitute and former Philadelphia Union player David Myrie got to the endline on the right and put in a low cutback that Campbell pushed into the lower left corner of Tim Howard’s goal, with Danny Williams trailing the play. Klinsmann responded by inserting Lee Nguyen and giving a debut to Andrew Wooten.

The changes, again, did little. The same move almost doubled the Costa Rican lead seven minutes later, with Borges in alone. Brad Evans slid across to make a phenomenal block, but the offsides flag was already raised.

For the Americans, it was purely a defensive half. Any counterattacking came through Yedlin and substitute Bobby Wood. The moves were disjointed, however, and Keylor Navas had a relaxed half in goal.



Howard; Evans, Cameron (Ventura 45′), Orozco, Ream (Spector 64′); Yedlin, Jones (Diskerud 45′), Williams, Shea (Nguyen 72′); Altidore (c) (Wood 45′), Zardes (Wooten 72′)

Unused: Guzan, Hamid

Costa Rica

Navas; Acosta, Duarte (Calvo 88′), Waston, Oviedo (Matarrita 54′); Gamboa (Myrie 68′), Guzman, Venegas (Colindres 76′), Borges (Granados 90′); Urena, Campbell

Unused: Pemberton, Alvarado, Aguilar, Valle, Vega, Castillo

Scoring summary

CR: Campbell — 70

Discipline summary

CR: Acosta — 17
US: Jones — 37
US: Yedlin — 56
US: Evans — 66
US: Williams — 72
US: Orozco — 79
CR: Waston — 87


  1. The only thing more disgraceful than this game tonight was watching Robin Van Persie head the ball into his own goal as the final dagger in Holland’s failed Euro qualifying attempt.
    Sunil Gulati what say you?
    Danny Williams and Brek Shea you were on my list yesterday to “not let the door hit you in the ass.” You are a disgrace to the national team colors in so many ways this evening but non better than when standing still and ball watching on the Costa Rica goal when we had four players to their three with two of those three players orchestrating the goal while you played pocket pool. That goal is symbolic for why you two should never-ever again play for this country.
    DeAndre Yedlin. You were never good. You are not good. You never will be any good. Truly. Not good.
    Mix Diskerud…next time just stay on the bench as you were more visible there.
    Jozy Altidore you offer nothing. Again. No hold up play when your team is struggling to possess. No runs. No.thing. Jozy, “You are out” as Heidi Klum says.
    So much negative. For those of you who struggled through the game was it as disheartening for you?
    We can yell at Jurgen Klinsman all we want… but the facts to the case are indisputable… his team his pool to choose from is made up of a bunch of players who are not at good. This generation of players is a wide margin… first touch, lousy passes, lost dribbles, ball watching instead of reading the play. Awful. Simply awful. That team needed to be rained on with a chorus of malcontent and boo.
    You know… all futbol teams need a player or two who can inject chaos and improvisation into the game… AND have the compliments surrounding him who can understand where to be and when to be there to harness that chaos into something beautiful. This is music. Those rare players are gems: corundum, onyx, tourmaline.
    When you have an entire squad that play in chaos you don’t have gemstones or music… only chaos… and chaos begets chaos. And what is worse… if you do have that one special player nobody would know how to harness his brilliance which would ultimately dead his shine and mute his music. Those players that can make music are in the pipeline… I pray dear God.
    Sunil gulati, what say you? I am ashamed of this team tonight.

    • Dont blame the players for the chaos. Waiting for a special players is like waiting for Godot.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Jurgen Klinsman overshot what he thought was basic technical proficiency. The shit eating grin you refer to is about his team’s IQ and utter inability to do even the simplest things in the game well.
        You can’t honestly expect a national team coach to teach a possession style in a few camps a year. How many times did you see us trying to implement his philosophy of playing out of the back only to have a poor touch, mis dribble or flat footed midfielder of striker offer nothing in support.
        This is why I keep saying it is with the youth. The shit eating grin Dr K is about the terrible players he is shackled with.
        One more person who wants to lay blame solely at the feet of the manager and doesn’t hold the players accountable.

      • Seriously? Yes, the players played poorly. But they didn’t seem to have a plan. So who do you suppose put them in this position? The magical fairy? The coach is the answer. The coach. Pretty easy. Pretty simple. Telling players to run harder and get after the ball is not coaching. Sorry El P, it’s not. That’s a cheerleader. The stands are full of those. That’s where JK should be sitting. How is it that Costa Rica can sub guys in and out at the same positions and lose nothing, while the US flounders? It’s freaking tactics, a system, you know that thing the US doesn’t have. The things that JK hasn’t implemented. It’s funny how the whole match Taylor and Ian pointed out how little talent Costa Rica has, but still how tough they play better competition. That not strike a cord, anywhere? If you don’t have the players to fit a system, then what should one do? Ah yes, that’s right, change the system. But JK can’t do that right? Because he sucks! The Germans knew it. Bayern knew it. We, for some reason get bowled over by his smile and say sure you’re doing great. Seriously? Absurd.

      • Talent and basic skill are two different things. I didn’t see Costa Ricans with abhorrent first touches. I didn’t see Costa Ricans dribbling the ball off their heel. I didn’t see Costa Rican ball watching and not tracking players.
        Jurgen Klinsman may not be a tactical magician but he asked this team to begin playing the ball out of the back as a means to begin a possession style and this team can’t even string three or four passes together on a regular basis.
        What TT and ID were also saying is where are the players going to come from when and if JK trys to move on from the old guard. It isn’t Brek Shea. It isn’t Danny Williams. It isn’t Orozco. It isn’t DeAndre Yedlin. It isn’t….
        The onus is partly on the coach yes. The onus is on the basic technical proficiency of the players.
        There was not ONE midfielder or striker on that team with a basic IQ on where to be and what to do when the chance arose.
        Please. Spare me the psychobabble that this is all Jurgen Klinsman’s fault.
        I’m not crazy about the guy either. I am far more disenfranchised with the skill level of the ‘best’ players this country has or is choosing. You want me to argue about JK and whether he should remain as a coach lets talk about the real issue. WHERE are the proper players. Now that is something I am willing to hang around the manager’s neck.
        Find me the players that can implement the system. Find them. Find the new breed. Find the young players to vet and to teach and to hone. Please. NO MORE of this dreck.
        THAT is what befalls the coach now.
        Brek Shea.
        Danny Williams.
        THEY are terrible.

      • Correct me if I’m wrong, Babar, but JK picks the team.
        He selects the players to bring to camp, he sits in his office before the game and picks the 11 players on the field.
        Additionally, he picks the system. He sets the strategy. A strategy the players he selected seem incapable of executing.
        Why is the USWNT able to compete a so much higher level than the USMNT?

      • El Pachy – not sure if you saw this on Twitter, but a writer noted the difference in how Mexico and the US warmed up. Mexico did small sided games with lots of short, quick passing while the US did sprints and fitness work with shots on goal. That’s on JK and his staff for designing that type of dark ages warmup for a match. You reap what you sow.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Hmm. Solid rebuttal.

  2. I feel badly for the USA players. They are good at their craft and are certainly good enough technically. Are you telling me that Iceland is better technically than the USA? No, they are much better coached. Crying by JK about some imagined technical deficiency is a red herring. Its all about the coaching. You Cant maintain possesion if you are not taught how to do it. The USA was not taught how to do it by their coaches. Most of the people on this blog dont know how to do it. I am assuming Adam sees the obvious problem and will elucidate on this issue for the rest of us. We will also be told why the USA gets caught out on defense because of disorganized allignment, which is due to poor coaching. I am sure all of you can see what is going on plain as day so there is no need to explain what is happening suffice to say that all you need to do is watch JK with that shot eating grin on his face while on the bench in the 2nd half. He almost took some responsibility for the USA problems, but I guess he changed his mind. Time to blame the players again. Thanks coach for having my back at a tough time. Ha!

  3. Why Jones? Why Altidore? 4 shots all night! No crowd. At least the U23 team recovered. Klinsmann has 30 days to right the frst team ship.

  4. November 13th. St Vincent and the Grenadines.
    I want to see and entirely new team. This world cup qualifying cycle needs a new breath. Dempsey stays. Bradley stays. One or two others stay. The defenders are figured out…
    …everybody else is new.

  5. An excellent comments section under the article if you follow the threads.

    Oli Olaffson’s POV is particularly interesting.

    • Gutless observation. Bradley goes Dempsey goes. Show some guts. Show some courage. Show you are not the same as JK. Tired of articles that equivocate, If it is rotten , cut it out. What a gutless group of bloggers we have. How tiresome to read the timid ,cautious responses.. How gutless, how unamerican. We as a country always had pride in our courage. Now we have comments about how we should not rock the boat . How sad. Wipe it clean and start again. if we dont make the world cup SO WHAT. at least we save our souls. What I read here is soulless.

  6. the tragedy in all of this is that the two best u.s. players,
    dempsey and bradley, were terrible against mexico. since you’ve already excluded everyone else, where the hell do we go now?

  7. Where do we go now? we break the mold and start again. what are we afraid of . Failure? we are already failing. Dont you get it? screw the world cup. It will not make ANY difference in the developement of soccer in the USA. Smash what doesnt work. To hell with 2018. Lets aim for 2022.

  8. Nobody here has the courage to think out of the box, Everybody is locked into the same thinking mode. Pachyderm, You are a smart guy, dont you see it? dont you you see the caution. the trepidation, The desire to maybe give him one more chance? It takes a lot of courage to say we are wrong, we are flawed, but we can still make the tough choice when necessary.IT is time to start ANOTHER new journey.

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