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Costa Rica 3, USA 1: The Day After

Tim Howard 1 (Reuters) 

It was ugly as it was thorough.

The U.S. men's national team was absolutely dominated on Wednesday night, losing to Costa Rica, 3-1, in a result that could have been even worse. Costa Rica did everything the United States was supposed to do, passing the ball well, moving well as a group, dominating with speed and sound defending.

Here is my story on the match for

Here is what today's newspapers in San Jose look like:




I will look to offer some more observations on the match later today if I can do it before flying back home. For now, please feel free to share your thoughts about Wednesday night's match in the comments section below.


  1. Royce,

    It’s hard to blame Donovan for disappearing when clearly no one on the US team was passing the ball to him. How many half way decent passes did you see get sent to any of the attacking players?

    I can only think of about two or three all game.

    Other than taking penalties, Donovan should be prohibited from taking any free kicks. What’s the first rule? Get it over the first defender, something Donovan has been terminally incapable of doing for some time now(not just this game).

    However, to be fair, he can’t do anything unless the US has other players who can trap a ball (didn’t see any, except Torres who couldn’t tackle the captain of your local high school team) and then pass it to another USMNT player(they seemed to be looking to give the ball away) in any kind of decent postion. On the evidence of this game, most of those guys can’t.

    Did this team practice for this game? It sure didn’t look like it. However let’s see how Honduras works out before sending them all to play on your local rec team.

  2. Being at home plays a big part in Costa Rica Beating USA. Almost every one wins at home. The most important thing here is who is winning away.

  3. I’m not going to say that no one could have/did predict the failure of DMB at left back. But the overwhelming sentiment BEFORE the game was that it was the right move. Go back and look at people’s projected lineups. It’s just funny how quick most people are to claim Beasley at LB was an “obvious mistake,” despite calling for the move only days earlier.

    I’ll start:

    Based on our last qualifier and the speed of CR’s attack, I thought DMB was a good choice for LB. He played a terrible game. I was wrong.


  4. @Gabe, Thanks Bro on behalf of all of your US soccer supporting brethren who have a lot of love for the one piece of the puzzle known as the USL. But don’t expect a Christmas card from EW this year. He probably got salty when he read that. lol

  5. i wonder if having so many guys in europe now is a double edged sword? i don’t remember the last time dempsey looked like he actually wanted to play for the usmnt.

  6. DMB has no business being in the defense. You are born a defender…you just can’t force someone to be. Speed will not be enough. DMB will mess up and Bob’s world will come crashing down on him…My two cents.

    Primoone 6-3-09

    Soo is this experiment over yet BOB’O??

    What a Dumb-A** that DMB move had FAIL written all over it…even in that T&T game. That fooker was all over the place. Dont know if you guys noticed this..but i started wondering why Torres was winded…well i replayed the game and saw that torres had to drop deep and cover quite a bit for DMB’s poor play. The only reason you saw torres gain more composure is because he said…To hell with it and worried about playing well as opposed to wiping DMB’s ass for him. Anyways, i hope Bob’O pulled torres so that he can go the full 90 on Sat.

    Conspiracy theory of the day( Beaz tanked that game so that he will not be placed there ever again…eva, eva eva again…if hes gonna continue sucking, it could be at his natural position)

  7. Yanki boy, sorry about the USL swipe. I think you got my point though.

    The rest of you guys who are producing these gems…

    “little, egomaniacal, small-minded dimwit must go – fire Gulati and Bradley and let’s build a real National team program…NOW!”

    No words really. Just hilarious to read.

    “i dont understand how Adu has yet to be giving a starting chance, sicne he was the only player worthy to play and outclass Spain and Argentina.”

    Only player worthy to play…huh. Seemed like the defensive effort and class of the ENTIRE SQUAD played a role. Maybe it was Adu marking 10 men and passing every ball while receiving and shooting at the same time…

    “Since no one is saying it, Gooch was horrible. positioning, got beat easily, slow and stiff with the ball.”

    You’d be slow too if you were chasing all the marks that our mids and beasley lost…nevermind the “positioning” of Beasley that led to almost every goal.

    “I hope the calls for Ching I hope never come true. He stinks and was the sole reason we had no shot at beating El Salvador until Altidore came in.”

    Do you people WATCH the games???

    “He provided ZERO service from the run of play or from set pieces” (of Dovonan)

    Hard to serve the ball in WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE IT!!!!

    For those of you who credit the Costa Rican team, blame our defensive marking, critique our effort, and maybe even blast our tactics…kudos. To those responsible for the idiocy above, this is why Europeans think Americans don’t know anything about the game. You nit wits are the loudest of the bunch, and frankly, have no idea what the hell you’re talking about.

  8. To bad for Edu and his chance with the MNT.




    I think this is likely v. Honduras

    I would like to see this assuming one day if healthy. offensive










  9. i think the only problem with last night’s match was the bad start from the wing backs and the defensive midfield. beasley and wynne were pretty bad. when hejduk and cherudolo are healthy we’ll be straight down the back [even though i still think bocanegra is pretty shaky for a captain], but we have some issues with our backup wing fullbacks. as we all witnessed last night, and for some time now, the wing backs are just a nightmare after we pass our first choice backs… as far as i’m concerned, only hejduk has been consistent enough for me [steve’s been injured] to always wear a shirt.

    i’m surprised no one is commenting on how absent from the match donovan was. i guess from his absence, this showed how important ching is. furthermore, i think altidore’s performance [i shut off the game at 50 mins] was under-rated.

    the thing that made me finally turn the game off, though, was the removal of torres from the field. from what i saw, only torres and altidore made even an adequate contribution… and he’s removed??

    other than that, i was amused by bradley’s choices, and probably would have put almost exactly the same lineup given our deplorable wing back pool.

  10. all this talk about turf being the reason we lost, or the crowd is B.S. If anything it seemed to become a self-fulfilling prophecy last night…The desire was definitely not there….Both teams played on the same field, the difference being that our pampered lads were psyched out by the turf and were scared to go to the ground to make tackles- hence the first goal, and the third…

    I recall Mastroeni being the first to even attempt a slide tackle, already 30 or 40 minutes into the game.

    People play football on all kinds of surfaces around the world, dirt, asphalt, whatever- just because these players are playing on finely manicured lawns every weekend should not prevent them from giving an all out effort for their country, scrapes and bruises be damned… However, these guys just mailed it in and got destroyed- which is what happens when you play like you don’t want to be there or afraid to get hurt… bottom line…

  11. How many shots on goal last night?…0 from Donovan; and, half of his free kicks, or corners didn’t make it over the first line of defense. Charlie Davies needs to see more time than the last 10 minutes.

  12. I will go back to my previous soap box. The US team has increasing potential largely due to players coming in with the experience of major European,and now Mexican, league clubs. In order to harness this and put the USA in a serious position in world football (soccer) then it is necessary to strengthen the management structure. Yesterday was aweful, no excuses, aweful. The tactics, preparation and team selection were unacceptable. Suggest they immediately invest in a manager with existing experience at the international level to not only manage the national team but put in place a structure to support for the long term. End of story.

  13. @Mike Arias

    Classy post.

    6 games to go and we’ll see if El Salvador and Trinidad can pull off any upsets too.

    Oh, and I’ll pull for all the Concacaf teams in the WC.

    Like many, if not most, here I love my US team, but also respect the others.

  14. @Posted by: Steve | June 04, 2009 at 10:39 AM

    Ya know, I don’t think people are mad that we lost. (I know I knew it was a distinct possibility. Costa Rica is a very tough team and a very tough place to play) It’s just that we looked so lifeless. I think that is what has people rankled.

    Oh and congrats to Mastroeni on inventing the role of ‘non-ball winning D-mid’ did he make a single challenge last night? He was a swinging doorway for the Ticos to rip through. The fact that Torres came out rather than him was a JOKE.

  15. I thought 0-0 would be the final and would have been very happy with that. I didn’t think we had a great shot at winning but man what a horrid performance by all.

    Landon Donovan was SHAMEFUL out there. He provided ZERO service from the run of play or from set pieces. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone hit free kicks directly into the wall as much as he did. You seriously would be hard pressed to find a U-10 AYSO game these days with as bad a performance on set pieces as Landon had.

    He should get 0.5 pts for finding the team bus and 1 pt for not completing his horrendous night by pushing the PK wide. Final rating: 1.5 at best. If you don’t allow for half pts then we will round DOWN to 1 pt. He was really that bad. (I’m not a Landon hater either which is even sadder for him)

    The calls for Ching I hope never come true. He stinks and was the sole reason we had no shot at beating El Salvador until Altidore came in.

    Wynne also deserves special notice for just an awful, awful display; DMB as well. How can anyone rate Deuce? Did anyone even notice him out there? I’ve rarely seen an attacking player leave less of a mark on a game than him.

    Ugh…awful all around.

    Time to forget it and focus on beating Hondouras in Chicago. They won’t be a pushover but they should be beatable.

  16. I’ve been saying this since the end of 2006….the USMNT will always be crap as long as Gulati and his puppet Bradley hold the reins…..little, egomaniacal, small-minded dimwit must go – fire Gulati and Bradley and let’s build a real National team program…NOW!

  17. I wanted to say this. I am a massive US supporter but I just want to give points to Costa Rica for doing less play acting/poor sportsmanship than I’ve become accustomed to in qualifiers. I’m not saying there wasn’t any–such as the Davies incident (and Altidore’s ‘falls’ basically evened it out anyway)– and part of it was that they led early and didn’t need to mess around, but I still thought they deserved some acclaim. In general…way to play the game the right way

  18. @Turtle”

    Stop blaming the turf. The installed it in 2004. The only other loss on the “turf” was in 2005. So the other 5 losses I guess you’ll be saying Grass, Grass , Grass!

    Shut up. I was at Miami and the team practiced on natural grass instead of turf; kind of hard to get used to turf if you don’t practice on it; even MLS teams know better and will squeeze a practice or 2 on turf before going up to BMO.

    We got outplayed and that’s it. It happens

  19. No one played well! First touches made the US look like a high school team. CR’s first touch was incredible compared to ours. Attribute some of it to the surface, but that level of player should have a better first touch if they were playing in a fire pit. Since no one is saying it, Gooch was horrible. positioning, got beat easily, slow and stiff with the ball. Bocanegra was beaten easily on some key plays. Bradley should have been taken off. He was standing in mudd on the last goal. Torres, while good on the ball lacked fight-just look at his effort on the first goal. Mastroeni fell short, as did the outside backs, but they were no worse than the center backs, maybe even a little less worse. The rest of the team stunk as well but without a cohesive backfield and Strong central midfield, the rest does’nt really matter anyway. –poor touches. Costa Rico was very good.

  20. Johnny boy & Jason

    Thier touch was as hard as the field last night, awful.

    Hopefully BB throws Age & Experience out the window and picks people based on who wants to play.

    I know some of those guys are good, but so is the bench. The shoe-ins need to learn a lesson on work. Look what it did for clint at Fulham.

    Its sad that we are a year away and no position/player looks like a lock except on paper to all of us.

  21. @Yankiboy

    Costa Rican team is working hard to get a place to the WC. Right now the competition is so good. I personally think CR,USA,MEXICO are the best in CONCACAF,although HONDURAS have a good team too but they need to grow up with experience.

    US beats Mex, UNFORTUNATELY for costa ricans like myself CR lost to Mex, And Well CR beats US… THIS IS SO INTERESTING…. what could be good in a qualification where there is this hole mighty team who beats everyone and take easy the first place,,,COMPETITION IS HEALTHY!!! Very good games are yet to come. Best team wins! KIND REGARDS TO YOU US FANS!

  22. This was bad ratings by ives………….

    He gave a kjlestan a 5??? he was horrid and did notbhing this game.

    He gave Adu a 4.5??? Huh, are we that blind of fans that we cant see how well Adu stepped in created chances,slowed the game down for us, and was much better with him. Not to mention our only chance yesterday came when Adu did that nice explosiove move to blow by his defender and shot the 30-yard attempt that was low and his foot caught the crap turf too but it was still on target for a possibl rebound…….

    i dont understand how Adu has yet to be giving a starting chance, sicne he was the only player worthy to play and outclass Spain and Argentina.

  23. ————-Altidore—Ching————–





    Clark seems a bit better equipped to handle a style like the one Honduras uses. He covers a lot of ground and isn’t just dead weight going forward. However, I’d like to see Benny Feilhaber also get a look. Both Benny and Torres bring that settling effect on the team and they seem like the same kind of player.

  24. Turtle:

    You are using a convienent excuse of turf as the reason we lose in CR- it may be a small factor, but it’s not THE reason. Sine WCQ we have also played CR in other stadiums in CR and fared poorly. Also, the field at that stadium has not ALWAYS been turf, yet we still lost there when it was grass. Get your facts straight!

    Bottom line, turf doesn’t cause guys to lose marks. Turf doesn’t cause guys to make poor decisions. Turf doesn’t cause guys to go in half-hearted on tackles. Stop blaming the turf and start accepting that it’s a tough place to play because of a multitude of factors and that we just have problems showing up there. These guys are professional players and must adapt to the conditions. Many of the CR players don’t play on that field very often either- and they dealt with the turf just fine.

    Wake up folks- it’s the players NOT THE TURF!

  25. KIZZ…

    You are the biggest loser on earth. You are constantly on this site proclaiming how bad the US is and how much you are not a fan of their; YET, you are always talking about them. WHY? That’s a rhetorical answer in case you were thinking about posting some nerd ass response filled with clever sayings like “concacrap” and “gold crap”, which are both inventive and hilarious.

    Are you 11 years old? if the answer is no, then you are most likely just some middle aged virgin who has nothing better to do then post on the internet about a team you don’t like. If yes, then you are probably doing this b/c you have no friends who actually want to hang out w/ you, so you act out in the toughest way you know possible, on the internet. Either way, your life probably sucks

    have being a minor annoyance on the internet rather than living an actual life

  26. Costa Rica got the early goal….. without that this game is probably very different.

    They made the most of their home advantage; I don’t think most teams would have fared well against them last night, give them credit.

    All the USMNT players were tentative as hell, which is what a crappy surface and an early goal will do to you. It is way too early yet to panic though so those of you who want to kill yourselves or lynch Bradley might want to take a moment; this is one of those games you kind of have to throw out from the grading curve.

    Nevertheless, why does no one on the USMNT except perhaps Torres have a professional level first touch? No one can kill a ball with their chest. And that has nothing to do with the turf. Passes to USMNT players bounce off them like they were concrete walls. Pathetic.

  27. I had this game as a loss at the start of this hexagonal. It always happens and now was no differant. Costa Rica, USA, and Mexico in the top three and Honduras to play the S American team.

  28. So for everyone being tough on Torres and would have sat him also. Would you have sat MB, Donovan, DMB? Of course not. They need to be sat more than any other. They are our so called Leaders with Experience and they did nothing.

    MB will be great, but better as the Def Mid or equal share holder in the middle. He has good distribution and vision at times, but you can see the difference in his vision and Torres’s. MB has vision of moving straight forward and attack. Torres gives you composure and variance. They could be great together if Daddy would get out of the way. There is a reason companies dont let you manage or work with family members. It causes unproductive issues inside and out. It could led to MB having a breakout in his career.

    BB needs to stick with the 4-4-2 and decide who gets to start on ability for the position that fits them best. If you have 6 forwards that happen to be your 6 best players, dont put them on all out of position. As we saw last night, it will kill you. It was some of the top players we have, but all out of position. What did we think would happen.

    Turf- Yes the play on the field is bad and FIFA should make a ruling on Arti-Turf. But, it certainly showed our skill sets. Touch is awful, its a basic skill. Didnt seem to bother CR. Its not bc they play on that all the time, its bc they have touch/skills. Thanks to Harkes for pointing out DMB’s touch, but if you didnt know that by now have your wife slap you upside your head.


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