Saturday, September 3, 2011

USA vs Costa Rica, The Good and the Bad

In what has to be one of the more frustrating losses in recent memory, the United States fell by a score of 0-1 to an opportunistic Costa Rican side. There were bright spots on the night. Then again, in order to see the light, there must be dark. In this match, American fans were treated to both.

The old adage “it was a tale of two halves” applied well to this match as the US was sharp and threatening during the first forty five. Easily the Americans should have put at least three goals away in the first half. Most notably was be Landon Donovan slotting the ball wide of the Ticos goal when he could easily have beaten the goalkeeper.

Missed chances were the tale of the match for the US and it came back to bite them. Portland Timbers and Costa Rican midfielder Rodney Wallace made his international debut special with a goal against he Americans in the 65th minute. The goal was well earned. The Ticos stretched the American defenses from left to right and forced several players out of position. Three attempts on goal and the third was a charm. Tim Howard brought his “A” game and made some impressive stops but was helpless to stop Rodney Wallace’s diving header.

Klinsmann’s lineup was promising. It ended up looking like a 4-1-2-3 and boasted speed and offensive prowess. However the positively pedestrian outing by Robbie Rogers and Landon Donovan diminished what could have been an imposing squad.

There were bright spots though. Brek Shea was dangerous in the attack and breaking down his defenders. Jozy Altidore also looked like revitalized player with improved hold up play and better ball control, his strike partner though was too far from him to help. The highlight of the US team was Jose Francisco Torres who was easily the best player of the match. Torres was calm and composed under pressure and put the Costa Rican goalkeeper under pressure with shots from distance.

The second half turned into a chippy affair in which fouls and shoving became commonplace. The Costa Rican team recovered well after the half and made the Americans pay for their inability to finish chances. The United States has enough talent in the pool that they should lose to no CONCACAF team while on home soil.

The match ended 1-0 in favor of Costa Rica. While the Americans certainly let down, they showed promise in employing their new attitude and style. This new style will take time to implement and they showed promise in their efforts. Given time and the full first team being together, the United States could become a formidable opponent for anyone.

Landon Donovan, missed chances. 

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