USMNT humiliated 4-0 by Costa Rica as World Cup qualifying campaign flounders

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<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/soccer/players/joel-campbell" data-ylk="slk:Joel Campbell">Joel Campbell</a>’s two goals added to the Americans’ misery in Costa Rica. (AP Photo)
Joel Campbell’s two goals added to the Americans’ misery in Costa Rica. (AP Photo)

 

In the span of just 90 minutes on Tuesday, the United States men’s national team managed to be embarrassed by Costa Rica 4-0, drop to an 0-2 record in the final round of World Cup qualifying for Russia 2018, worsen its competitive record in San Jose to 0-9-1 and in Costa Rica overall to 0-9-2, and extend its qualifying losing streak in the Central American nation to 31 years.

In a frustrated, error-strewn and disheveling performance, the Americans followed up their narrow 2-1 loss to Mexico last Friday in Columbus, Ohio, with a disjointed and disheartening beating at the hands of the Ticos, who had a dead-simple time of capitalizing on endless defensive mistakes.

[ Costa Rica vs. USA: Klinsmann must go | Goalkeeper mess | Match tracker ]

A goal on the verge of halftime from Johan Venegas put the visitors’ backs against the wall. And in the second half, Costa Rica ambled off with the game as Christian Bolanos scored and Joel Campbell got a pair of goals to worsen the pain.

The game was testy from the first whistle, with Venegas getting in John Brooks’ face. And the Costa Rican, like just about every single one of his teammates, would be getting the best of his American opponent.

The U.S. mustered almost no possession of consequence and were shaky in the back once more, leaving giant gaps for the Ticos to lope on through. In just the seventh minute, Venegas nutmegged Brooks, stayed ahead of Timmy Chandler, but Brad Guzan came up with the big kick save.


Bryan Ruiz attempted an overhead kick from a few yards out and nearly fooled Guzan a little later, but the goalkeeper saved it with his face.


What little danger the USA managed to create tended to come from Christian Pulisic, the 18-year-old who can’t help being the best player on the team. But as the game wore on, he faded from view as the total inability by his peers to connect passes isolated him entirely.

Only once did the U.S. go close. Just before halftime, Bobby Wood reached the back line. But his square ball past the beaten Keylor Navas and across the empty goal didn’t find a friendly foot. Pulisic was boxed out and arrived late.


Then, a bad pass from Jermaine Jones forced a turnover from Brooks. Costa Rica calmly worked the ball to Bolanos, who swung in an uncontested cross as Omar Gonzalez took his sweet time closing him down. Venegas beat Brooks to the header and then Guzan with his finish.



Unlike in the Mexico game, when the U.S. was also resoundingly beaten in the first half, things didn’t get much better after the break. The Yanks remained wasteful in possession and on set pieces.


And, seemingly inevitably, Ruiz was dispatched down the right after Matt Besler was caught out. Ruiz’s splendid cross with the outside of the boot found the head of Bolanos, who ran by Chandler and headed past Guzan.


That’s when Campbell got involved. A routine 74th-minute high ball to Brooks was completely misplayed by the shaken defender, who misread the bounce. Campbell picked the ball up, nutmegged Brooks again, ran off with it and simply poked his finish past Guzan.


Four minutes later, Campbell strolled through the offside trap and got a simple second to make it 4-0.


And so the USA has taken no points from its first two games in the hexagonal round, which will send three of six teams to Russia directly after a double round-robin and a fourth to a playoff. Qualifying resumes in late March, giving the Americans an awfully long winter to stew over their humiliating night.

Leander Schaerlaeckens is a soccer columnist for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @LeanderAlphabet.

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