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USA ties Costa Rica, tops CONCACAF and helps Honduras reach World Cup

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Jonathan Bornstein's 95th minute header helped give the U.S. national team a dramatic 2-2 tie against Costa Rica and helped the Americans clinch first place in the CONCACAF World Cup on Wednesday night.

Costa Rica jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a pair of beautiful Bryan Ruiz goals, but the Americans didn't fold. Instead, the U.S. team rode the inspired effort of Jozy Altidore and the boost of second-half subs Jose Francisco Torres and Robbie Rogers to fight all the way back.

Michael Bradley scored first, tapping home a rebound of a Landon Donovan shot. Costa Rica kept holding on as the U.S. team poured on the pressure, but the Americans finally broke through in the final seconds of stoppage time when Bornstein streaked into the penalty area to head home the equalizer.

Bornstein's equalizers made the United States the first-place team in CONCACAF's qualifying group, while also helping Honduras qualify for the 2010 World Cup for the first time since 1982. The result will force Costa Rica to face Uruguay in a World Cup play-in series.

What did you think of the U.S. team's stirring comeback? Does it have you feeling good about the team's World Cup possibilities? Happy with what you saw from Altidore, Torres and Rogers?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. bob bradley did all he could to get them to tie….they played like they didnt care about that game in the first half…..they couldnt finish…everyone was bad probably besides borstein(which is unusual)……the subs were great, but feilhaber,casey,and holden have to preform better if they want to be apart of things

  2. If you want technique, passing, and on the ball skills then your midfield needs to be Donovan out left, Torres in the middle, and Holden on the right.

    Rogers was good last night but in MLS and the Gold Cup his first touch and overall passing were and are not on the level of Holden. Holden seemed kinda jumpy the last two games to start and settles in very nice around the 20th minute. I think if he had a defined role as a starter you would see it the whole game like those in Houston do. Pretty sure the kid is trying to impress and make the most of his time to shine. Personally, I think if Dempsey is out or playing striker he should start out right in the World Cup.

  3. Just to be clear.

    It was Rodgers who took the final free kick. he talked about it in the post game press conference.

    Torres was wearing long sleeves and the person who took the free kick was wearing short sleeves.

  4. Hey everyone! Thank you so much!!!

    You helped us Hondurans to qualify!!!

    You don’t know what this means to us, man, I can’t say no other thing that say THANK YOU!

    Your soccer team proved that they play with heart, ambition and passion.

    As I have said in this website from time to time: US and HONDURAS will qualify to SA2010 and they did!!!


    Greetings from Tegucigalpa!!!

    Let’s hope both DAVIES and ONYEWU get well quickly!!!

    Good luck in the WC to you all my US friends!!!

  5. Last spring/summer Torres was NOT starting at Pachuca, he was being used as a sub and sometime starter on a veteran team. Only this fall did he begin to be a routine starter. I do not know if he had a nagging injury, nothing serious, but something that slowed him a bit or limited his agility or if the coach simplyy decided that he was ready for more full-time. It is no surprise that once he was playing more that Bradley used him. He is clearly a better attacking choice than Clark and Benny was not having a great game.
    Torres is only 22, same as Bradley, but with different the size and style. They will present an interesting puzzle for opponents for years to come if they can make the partnership work.

    To the Bornstein haters, according to the Prozone match analysis he still has one of the highest pass completions among US defenders. He is quick and can go forward better than most of the US backs. He does need to maintain better defensive concentration, something that I think has improved since Bradley first moved him to left back at Chivas. He is only 24 and he is slender. More experience and more strength will make him better.

  6. @TJPierce. I’ve often thought the same thing. Would love to some day hear 80,000 USMNT fans in full voice:
    “From the mountains, to the prairies,
    To the oceans, white with foam.
    God bless America, My home sweet home.”

  7. The Costa Ricans made their own Karma with their pitiful diving and posturing. Pathetic.

    Their tears were food for my soul.

    as for Bornstein on Defense, I reiterate Howard said it best after 2nd goal conceded –

    as for Bornstein on Offense, you owed us at least 2 – 4 goals during qualifying buddy.

    as for Onyewu’s really unfortunate injury –
    His choke on that first shot on goal was criminally negligent.

  8. amazing comeback! most of the game, i was feeling frustrated with us losing the ball, not closing fast enough or flubbing all our great chances. but, the finale was incredible. great job to bradley and the team! and very inspiring play by altidore. he stole at least 3 balls from their defenders just by applying high pressure! my prayers are with charlie and the other people in the accident.

  9. If Bornstein has ever wanted a gorgeous Honduran wife this is a good chance for him 😉

    As a whole we looked solid, other than missing more chances than I’ve ever seen us have in a match. I was impressed with Jozy, who worked his butt off, as well as Torres. Only a few mentions on here of Cooper but he impressed me. He put in a very good shift and really worked, tracked back, held the ball up, and created chances. If we don’t move Dempsey up top I think Cooper is my #2 striker at the moment.

  10. My Thoughts:

    1) Much like everyone else here, I loved what I saw from Torres. Even when he was pulled from the first CR game, I thought he looked the best of the bunch. The beauty of our player pool is that he’s getting looks – and he’s only 21. By the next WC cycle, he should be pushing into his prime. For now, though, especially considering our defense frailties, I think Bradley Jr. (22 himself) should be paired with a strong defensive midfielder – here’s hoping Jermaine Jones is healthy enough to fill that role. For now, I still think Torres and Benny are best coming off the bench. Torres should just be used more.

    2) For those stating Landon had a bad game, might I mention that wingers typically can get lost for stretches of the game – especially when the central midfielders aren’t controlling the ball and completing passes (see Benny and Bradley Jr. for the first half). He still finds ways to get inside and make some breaks. It’s unfortunate he didn’t see Casey across goal when he shot over, but considering how badly Casey missed on Jozy’s setup, I wouldn’t blame Landon for *failing to see* him.

    3) Bornstein bordered on great last night – especially with the last minute goal. It just goes to show how an attacking left back can flourish when the other team doesn’t attack him. However, I’m still not sold on anyone in the player pool being a good cover defender when other teams choose to attack that position. Whether Bornstein, Bocanegra, Castillo, or Pearce, no one has shown they can shutdown a good right winger. That doesn’t bode well, considering some of the best players in the world (i.e. CR9, Messi) and some other players (Aaron Lennon for England with his speed) will certainly look to expose that spot.

    4) Jozy was great all night. It looked like the emotions only got to him when the ball was at his feet with a chance at goal – otherwise, he’s showing why he’s so highly rated at only 19 years old. There is a lot to look forward to not only in 2010 but for 2014 and 2018.

    All in all, though, gutsy performance and a great result.

  11. Please fischy. He missed one chance but created about five others that weren’t finished by Casey and Landon. I’ve never seen Altidore play so well even though he didn’t score. He looked like he was gonna tear up during the national anthem. That was an inspiring performance from Jozy, he left it all out on the field.

    Posted by: speekeasy | October 15, 2009 at 03:45 AM

    Thank You. I think Fischy is quoting Harkes whom thought Altidore should have been subbed – thank goodness Harkes won’t managing a team I support in the near or any future.

    The positives from last night’s match that we should benefit from next summer:

    Not shutting down despite being down a goal or in the case of last night goals.

    Actually good at creating chances, people don’t give us enough credit and during this campaignb we’ve actually done a better job than many will credit

    Boca-Onyewu combination is solid. We need to get better wing defenders.


    Finish, Finish, Finish. I would have benched Conor Casey after that miss last night so damn fast that he’d be in therapy for the next month. Easy chances must be finished and that’s downright inexcusable.

    Ball movement needs to be more dynamic. We’re too damn static with our play.

    Controlling the ball has been lousy this entire campaign save for Landon and a few others, guys must be able to hold onto the damn ball and execute much much better when they have it.

    Overall, I actually think we’re headed in the right direction unlike Shaka Hislop whom has already written us off for next summer despite mentioning it depends on the draw. Makes no damn sense and he’s starting to sound like other ESPN announcers.

    The injury to Onyewu and those injuries to Jermaine Jones, Clint Dempsey and a few others are actual blessings in disguise(excludes Charlie Davis’s injury which involved a loss of life and just pure tragedy). It means that the injured players will actually be able to rest and allow their bodies to recover. The trade off is how it effects their sharpness next summer but with the three mentioned above, I think more good will come from it. I haven’t seen Castillo play, so I just don’t know about him but I will put him into the category aside from being prepared but again I’ve never seen him play.

    I hope people will start to truly give Donovan the credit he deserves for being the US’s best player. He continues to amaze me with his play and he’s only getting better and especially once he’s in Europe during the Winter/Spring campaign.

  12. oh I didn’t even factor in Edu! He can also play centerback. Lineups, lineups, who knows at this point. I just hope everyone gets healthy!

  13. Bittersweet is indeed a great word to describe the reality of qualification. To have Davies, Onyewu and Demerit all go down with serious injuries within one week is crazy. The only possible piece of positive karma is that if there was a time to have three likely SA starters go down, it’s after qualifying and before the actual WC.

    So Davies is out for SA. No one on the USA can replace his speed. He was one player that opposing teams feared because of that speed.

    Onyewu is now out until past the transfer window in Europe, so hopefully his agent can get Milan to trade him to Ajax and we all cross fingers that he will be able to at least play in the late Spring. Because if he does not play, we’re either screwed because BB won’t play him or because he will and he won’t have his legs and lungs under him.

    With the hopeful tryouts of Jones, Castillo (and now Torres?), I think the team that got us qualified will look different than the one that will take the field in SA–and I’m not sure if that’s a bad thing.

  14. One other thought – the Costa Ricans must be absolutely kicking themselves for the final minute of last nights game. What a comedy of errors! First, they bring the ball to the corner in the US end, but get cleanly stripped of the ball and Torres makes a 70 yard run and basically draws the corner. Second, at least THREE of their players are not even in the box on the corner – the US had the Costa Ricans outnumbered in their own box on the final play (leaving Bornstein completely unmarked), which is unforgivable. And finally, they had only one man on a post (not two, inexplicably), and Bornstein heads the ball directly at that post – but that one man on the post drifts so far over to the middle of the goal that the keeper dives right into him and neither can make the play – stay on your post, man!

    Multiple breakdowns, leading to the final goal. Very bad.

  15. Great game last night. Couple thoughts on Gringo Torres and center midfield spots.

    – In that role, as a deep lying midfielder who picks out passes, there is no one better than Gringo Torres in the US pool, that is why he’ll make the wc team. What an accurate left foot, spraying the passes with an xavi-esque quality!

    – Gringo Torres is not a ball winner at this time, he won a couple balls last night, but watch him at Pachuca, watch his US performances he doesn’t win that many balls or force guys into making bad passes. So when we are under pressure and must defend, he’s not the guy Bob will put into the fold. (He may be used as a sub, coming in for a forward, to maintain possession late in a game)

    – Our best center midfield in SA will come from a combination of Jones, Clark (his technical skills with the ball are not that sharp, but is very athletic), or Bradley (good football brain, but no real speed, he doesn’t have a second gear). If Jones comes through his injury and is the player a lot of us think he will be, then Clark and Bradley will be in a fight for that second spot.

  16. For me, Torres and Feilhaber are very similar, and when coming on vs tired teams, they tend to look good.
    Posted by: golfstrom
    I’ve had a wait and see attitude toward Torres for a number of reasons. One of the factors is that he is essentially similar to Benny and needed to be convinced that he is an upgrade on someone the rest of the team is comfortable with. But last night Torres was orders of magnitude better than Benny. ANd yes, it was a tired team – but they also had a man advantage, mitigating that somewhat.

  17. Bornstein – I know he got the winning goal and therefore is a hero, but honestly, he falls far short of international caliber. I felt the second CR goal was his fault. He couldn’t seem to match the speed of any of the CR forwards. He always seemed desperate out there.

    Casey – Another player that just doesn’t measure up to World Cup standards. Bring back McBride.

    I’ve been watching European qualifying matches, and our US MNT just doesn’t match the quality of play I see from even the smaller European powers, especially on defense. It’s nice to get all euphoric about our qualification for the WC, but let’s be realistic, our team is just average compared to the European and South American powerhouses.

  18. whoever was at the game last night you deserve some serious credit. best home crowd i’ve seen throughout qualifying on a crappy, cold wet night. i honestly think you guys made a difference in how the game went and the US should now play EVERY home game at RFK. job well done

  19. Ives should link to his ESPN column with player grades:

    As usual, Ives grades Michael Bradley at least one point too high. I mean – a 6.5? Really?? I don’t think so. A 5, at best. Let’s face it, he was luckily in the right place at the right time for his goal, but that took no skill at all – Bradley hit the loose ball directly into the keeper and it happened to bounce into the net. Otherwise, he was often not where he was supposed to be in the defensive center of midfield – too often, he was forward and Benny was playing D-Mid (and not well, I should add). And, as usual, his passing was off.

    I hope that, if Jones is as good as advertised and Papa Bradley insists on keeping Michael on the field, he will move Michael to a more attacking role.

    Other than the (expected) overrating of Michael Bradley, I think Ives’s marks were pretty much right on. I loved Jozy’s energy last night – that’s the most energy I think I’ve ever seen him play with. He wasn’t very sharp, but he played very well. I was worried that Bradley would take him off around 60 minutes to protect him from getting antoher yellow card, even though he was clearly superior to Casey last night.

    Also, both of our fullbacks played pretty well going forward, but if they are going to play like that, our center backs need to be sharper and our defensive midfielder needs to stay back more.

  20. Ives,

    Don’t forget that the U.S. was down a man towards the end of the game which made the comeback even more dramatic. That game was thrilling. I hate it that Davies and Gooch were injured, but last night was a lot of fun regardless.

  21. Better This Way,

    I do not say that Torres is ready to start. I said that he is in the mix of four other players (Holden, Edu, Feilhaber and Clark). To avoid confusion let me say it better, before last game I did not see Torres as even competing for this spot. Last night he played well enough (as did Rogers) to put himself on the short list of possible players at the World Cup. Remember, Bradley is likely to use all of these players at some point during the three games. My post simply is to say I am more settled by Torres performance to accept his being out there at some point during the World Cup.

  22. Torres was tremendous. Cool and controlled with the ball, hustling, and taking charge. Give him the keys to the midfield for a while and lets see what happens. He brings possession we sorely lack.

  23. Altidore played great last night–his strength, energy, and skill created a number of opportunities that could have been converted. Given his bond with Charlie Davies, it seemed clear that he wanted to play well for his friend. That was confirmed after the game when he came over to section I was in and asked some fans for a large banner that was hanging over the side. He said it’d mean a lot to Charlie.

  24. Torres has to be on the pitch. He is so calm on the ball and spreads it around quickly. I think he has the best touch of anyone on the team.

    Bornstein is getting better.

  25. Gutsy performance last night. It’s hard really to take away anything from the game considering the circumstances – took half an hour for them to settle down/wake up/play soccer.

    For me, Torres and Feilhaber are very similar, and when coming on vs tired teams, they tend to look good. Nice game from JB, just wish he could shape his crosses instead of chipping them. Anxiously awaiting more detailed prognosis on Gooch.

  26. Dear Jonathan Bornstein,

    I wrote, uh, emphatically several weeks ago that you were not good enough to help the MNT at left back. Happily, I underwent successful cranial-rectolectomy at RFK last night while watching you energize the team, contribute at both ends, and score the equalizer. I will be very happy if your inspired play can continue to make me look like an idiot for years to come.


    The deleriously happy guy in Sec 237, row 3

  27. Was there last night in the 10th row. Some quick observations:

    – The US fan base desperately needs somebody to create some freaking chants and songs. It’s embarassing. The place was dead until the first US goal…

    Posted by: JCL | October 15, 2009 at 11:00 AM

    I’ve always wanted to hear what it would sound like to have a huge stadium singing, “America the Beautiful,” or “God Bless America,” during the run of play. I think that would be awesome. Any other songs come to mind?

  28. Watching the highlights on Utube, you see Howard’s reaction directed toward the Left Side of his defense – “EVERY F–KING TIME! EVERY F–KING TIME!”

    I know exactly how he feels. That back line needs SERIOUS WORK.


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