Hello darkness. I remember you.
Again, the US loses to Costa Rica in a World Cup qualifier. And again, it feels like we’ve found ourselves in crisis.
Last time, after the US’s disastrous 4-0 loss in Costa Rica in November, Jurgen Klinsmann lost his job. Bruce Arena won’t lose his after just his first loss of the year, but he clearly lost the tactical battle tonight, and his US players were absolutely outworked.
As for those two excuses I keep hearing:
Sure, the referee–a Panamanian, by the way–wiped out our best scoring chance of the match by not calling a clear penalty when Jozy Altidore was fouled in the box in the first half. And sure, a real confederation wouldn’t have used a referee from a country that clearly stood to benefit from one side losing this match. But this loss isn’t on the ref.
Sure, the match was in Harrison, NJ, just outside New York City, allowing thousands of Ticos transplants to come cheer on their birth country. But you know what? It’s 2017. We shouldn’t be afraid of playing big matches in big cities because immigrants might ruin the home field advantage. The crowd was loud and pro-US, until our play took our fans out of the match. This loss isn’t on the venue choice, either.
Costa Rica was great, and the US was bad–disjointed up top and sloppy and confused in the back. That’s why we lost, plain and simple. We need to hold ourselves to a higher standard. We need to be better. It’s on us.
Costa Rica’s opener came after Marco Urena worked over Tim Ream and caught Tim Howard out of position. Ream’s centerback partner, the usually rock solid Geoff Cameron was nowhere near in position to help, either.
Christian Pulisic was great for the first 15 minutes or so, racing down the right wing and dribbling through defenders. But eventually, the constant defensive attention physical play seemed to wear him down, and limited his ability to make much of anything happen.
— Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports) September 2, 2017
In Pulisic’s best moment of the match, the Borussia Dortmund star nearly came up with the equalizer in the 68th minute, but it was saved in spectacular fashion by a guy he’ll see later this month in the Champions League, Real Madrid’s Keylor Navas.
Super-sub Clint Dempsey failed to provide a spark for the US after coming on late, and Costa Rica put the match away with another goal from Urena in the 82nd minute after a sloppy pass by Cameron.
So there it is. Mexico is through to the World Cup with their win over Panama tonight, and Costa Rica is right behind them after grabbing three points against the US. We now sit in third, level on points but ahead on goal differential with Tuesday night’s opponent, Honduras. We’d better find a way to win that one, or chances are we’ll be making a November trip to Asia as part of a home-and-home playoff series.
Come on, USA. Please.