Costa Rica strikes blow to United States of America qualification

Lydia FlemingSep 04, 2017

An impressive card display throughout Red Bull Arena as fireworks burst during the United States national anthem. It has lost multiple home qualifiers in one qualifying campaign for the first time since the 1958 cycle. Graham Zusi seems likely to start again at right back, and it's a toss-up between Jorge Villafaña and DaMarcus Beasley at left back.

The US is third with eight points, ahead of Honduras on goal difference.

The win provisionally lifted the Costa Ricans to the top of the Hexagonal table, while the Americans remained in the third place.

Clint Dempsey started on the bench for the US, with manager Bruce Arena electing to play Bobby Wood and Jozy Altidore up front while pairing Geoff Cameron and Tim Ream in the center of the defense.

"It's on us to make sure that we can finish the job and allow ourselves the chance to look forward to playing at a World Cup next summer", midfielder Michael Bradley said.

The Americans had a number of chances early in the second half, including a couple notable ones from Ream and Bobby Wood, but Costa Rica's defenders and Navas were up for every challenge.

Worst-case scenario: Honduras and Panama win Tuesday, leaving the United States fifth and in need of help in the final set of matches.

The U.S. MNT continues to occupy third place in the Hex with three qualifiers still to play between now and October 10.

"We'll take a day to reflect on this and come up with a plan", Arena said.

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Costa Rica now leads the all-time series between the teams 16-15-6, and the USA has lost to Costa Rica in a World Cup qualifier on home soil for the first time since May 31, 1985, in Torrance, California, ending an eight-match unbeaten streak. Navas then made a sliding stop on Jozy Altidore just before Urena's second goal.

Honduras has the hardest schedule, but those last two matches very well will come against teams that have already clinched and, accordingly, might use secondary players.

Trinidad and Tobago defender Sheldon Bateau, left, tries to hold off Honduras' Romell Quioto during play on Friday in their FIFA World Cup 2018 CONCACAF qualifier at Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.

But Arena didn't think his team was in any more peril than they were before Friday's defeat.

Pulisic hasn't been targeted for physical abuse as much in the last two games as he was by Panama in March, but the US has to provide enough other attacking threats to make teams pay if they're going to send two guys after Pulisic anytime he touches the ball.

"We'll move on. This is how you deal in competition sports".

"I thought at times we put together some good plays, couldn't get the final part of the play right, in other moments it was a little bit too slow, a little bit too predictable", he said.

"We've got to put this past us real quick", he said.

"We got split there, our centre backs, which shouldn't happen", Arena said.

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