USNT Recap

World Cup qualifying match report: USMNT 0-2 Costa Rica

Photo: Earl Gardner

Marcos Urena’s brace led Costa Rica to a 2-0 win over the US Men’s National Team Friday night in New Jersey.

Both teams finished with two shots on frame, but Keylor Navas kept out both American efforts while Tim Howard was beaten first at a tight angle and then on a breakaway. The US next plays Tuesday in Honduras in a match that now takes on great significance.

Bruce Arena sent out a team that seemed built to pass and attack, but turned out to be easily rattled. Tim Ream and Geoff Cameron started in the center of defense, flanked by Jorge Villafana and Graham Zusi. Fabian Johnson, Michael Bradley, Darlington Nagbe, and Christian Pulisic spread across the midfield behind Jozy Altidore and Bobby Wood.

From the start, it was apparent that the center backs were living a nightmare. In the seventh minute, Tim Ream was caught in possession deep, but Christian Bolanos couldn’t get a shot off from the top of the box.

Going forward, the US looked to counter quickly through Pulisic, but the teenager rarely had support. In the 16th minute, Pulisic rolled forward and found Bobby Wood, who moved the ball to Nagbe, who quickly found Altidore wide. The big forward lofted a ball across goal for Pulisic but he couldn’t put a shot on goal.

A minute later, it was Geoff Cameron’s turn to give the ball away, but the US was able to defend at a scramble.

In the 23rd minute, Pulisic finally got behind the defense up the right. He cut the ball back for Altidore who looked to have been fouled from behind. There was no call.

Urena got his first in the 30th. He broke down the right channel, twisted Ream in circles, and finished to the far post behind a stranded Tim Howard.

The first American shot on frame came in the 67th minute. Clint Dempsey, on as a substitute, fired a free kick into the box that bounced around and found Bradley’s feet. He tucked the ball back for Pulisic to fire on goal, but Keylor Navas did fantastically well to push it away.

In the 81st minute, Geoff Cameron lofted a ball over the top to Altidore, but Navas again came up big to stone the striker.

A minute later, Cameron passed the ball directly to David Guzman in the middle. Since he plays for Costa Rica, the midfielder quickly put the ball right back down Cameron’s throat, playing Urena through the center for the easiest of finishes.

The US were poorly set up from the start, jittery, and the result was what both teams deserved.

Bruce Arena has a lot of thinking to do before Tuesday’s match in Honduras.


  1. To slightly re-phrase

    The US were poorly set up from the start, jittery, slow, weak, unorganized, no desire and the result was what both teams deserved. If Nagbe could finish was our only hope. He was the only one on the pitch playing with desire.

  2. Old Soccer Coach says:

    We are learning how important Landon Donovan was, again.

  3. el Pachyderm says:

    I’m thankful for LCD Soundsystem. The new album with headphones postgame erased any possible bitterness from a contemptible display by US Soccer and its ‘highest’ expression.

  4. Nothing about game play here, nothing to be said. I’m quite disgusted by the fact that our national team plays every game as if it’s away. The federation moved it to a smaller stadium to boost support and somehow a large percentage of tickets go to visiting team fans anyway. Since the gate draw isn’t too much of a concern, why don’t they give them for free to loyal supporters. This way real fans only have to deal with travel costs?

    • el Pachyderm says:

      We’re talking about stadium location? The game was played in the USA!!!… welcome to the melting pot of the world, there were Costa Rica fans there. Who cares. We’re lamenting stadium locations. I’ve seen this argument in other circles and it is mind bending to me.
      Holy smokes. Stadium.

      • Your missing the point. If the placement of where the game was didn’t matter then the national team would play every Mexico game in LA instead of Columbus. The federation is trying to make it a pro US crowd. My point is they should just give the tix for free to members of supporters clubs if they want a larger US base crowd.

  5. Did anyone expect anything different with Tim Ream starting? Let’s face it, the best play he ever made was a pass to Danny Mwanga in 2011.

  6. Nagbe effort was good but he is not international-quality #8. He needs to be on the wing.

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