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U.S. Under-23s fall to Costa Rica at Toulon Tournament

Charlie Horton (BeIN SPorts)



In what could be a preview of CONCACAF Olympic qualifying, the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team took on a tough Costa Rica side and fell short in its quest to secure a place in the final matches of the Toulon Tournament.

A 55th-minute goal from David Ramirez helped give Costa Rica a 2-1 victory against the U.S. Under-23s on Sunday, a result that will make it tough for the Americans to finish in the top two of its five-man group at the France-based youth tournament.

The Ticos were the better side for much of the match, but the U.S. had hopes of securing at least a point when Fatai Alashe tapped home a Jordan Morris shot that had hit the right post to make the score 1-1 in the 31st minute.

Costa Rica opened the scoring in the 24th minute when Ronald Matarrita struck a perfectly-placed free kick with his left foot that gave U.S. goalkeeper Charlie Horton no chance to save it.

Alashe was in the right place at the right time just seven minutes later, when a Morris shot hit the post and fell right to him. The Earthquakes midfielder quickly slotted home the tying goal on one of the very few scoring chances the Americans produced on Sunday.

Costa Rica took control in the second half when a perfect flicked pass from Dylan Flores sprang Ramirez, who split the U.S. defense and slipped a perfect shot past Horton for the winning goal.

The match was a disappointing one for a U.S. team that looked so impressive in a 3-1 win against the Netherlands on Friday. The U.S. attack struggled to find Morris and Kiesewetter, while Green endured a disappointing showing after showing well against the Dutch.

The Americans close out their Toulon Tournament on Tuesday against Qatar. They will need Qatar to earn results against Costa Rica and the Netherlands later this week in order to secure a place in the Toulon Tournament third-place match.


  1. I understand that Costa Rica is a decent team. The problem isn’t that the U.S. lost, it is how they lost. Terrible passing and a long ball offense? The worst part of it… No heart. At least teams in the past had heart. This team looked like it lacked leadership and HEART. They didn’t press hard for an equalizer with the game in reach. Sad

    • We should also keep in mind that Costa Rica might be the best team in CONCACAF right now (if we’re looking at 2014 WC performance). If the improved CR performances are evidence of an overall improved national program, the U-23’s may have been beat by a team from a better program going through a overall strong growth and performance leap.

  2. IMO, the Costa Rica team deserves some credit. They played well and deserved the win. They will be a legitimate threat in the Olympic qualifiers.

  3. Some of the blame needs to go to youth coaches and parents that applaud “big kicks”

    I have actually seen coaches telll their players on defense to kick it up the field everytime they get near the ball!

  4. Also, that two footed, from behind challenge of the Costa Rican player on Kiesewetter towards the end of the second half was a red. The defender barely touched the ball AFTER steamrolling through Kiesewetter and upending him.

    • Agree. Ref didn’t even give a foul.

      And how did we keep getting mooned by Jerome? Seemed to be a consistent theme.

  5. That second goal was just tragic defending. The two centerbacks allowed a run straight down the middle right in between them. I’m tired of just booting it forward too. You see that with both the U20 and U23. Even when they have more space to run, they see a forward (usually covered by a man) and just boot it forward to him.

    Julian Green looked good for the first part of the first half, slashing through defenders (which we need more of) then he completely faded. Be it lack of match fitness or whatever, we need someone to take on defenders for the whole stretch. We need something more than “receives ball on the wing and boots it forward” which usually ends in offside, loss of possession, or a terrible off balance half shot. These guys are certainly showing they aren’t used to playing a game every 2-3 days. They faded fast out there.

    • “These guys are certainly showing they aren’t used to playing a game every 2-3 days.” And how many players are? Most all of these players are not regulars on their club teams.

      • Exactly. Kids that don’t play often for their clubs, get thrown together on a relatively short notice, and are forced to play games every 2-3 days and they’re going to look terrible. They’re going to continue to look terrible too, because they are gassed.

  6. My biggest concern on all levels is that we still lack the ability to keep possession. We can’t penetrate the other team with our passing.

    The only attack we kept using was to lob balls over the back line.

    Morris seems to have some ability, but it is just not enough. There is no team cohesion, and movement with our passing. Why? I don’t know.

  7. Saw some very positive things in the game against the Netherlands. Saw nothing positive in the game against Costa Rica.
    Pelosi is in the Liverpool youth system? He has been sub par in all 3 matches.

  8. Crap I missed the game. Luckily they re-air at 5:00 PM


    Just wanna say, this was not posted on the “This Weekend’s Soccer On TV” article, which I feel definitely should have been. Maybe that info wasn’t available at the time, so sorry in advance if that’s the case. Also I think the article should be pushed back to the top of the “Top Headline’s” column.

    Thanks for the continued coverage!

    • Those are my feelings on the matter. I wasn’t impressed by the Netherlands win and expected 3 losses in 3 games for this roster.

    • Some of these comments are absurd. I think some people, who probably didn’t even see the game considering their comments, are just looking for an excuse to bash Klinsmann. I saw both losses and while the US played horribly against France, they did not play badly against CR. Both goals by CR were the results of some shoddy play by the center backs–a foul just outside the box by Shane O’Neill that was unnecessary and not marking a forward closely enough so that a pass was able to split the two center backs. You have someone like Brooks in there and maybe that doesn’t happen. Also, I think the US should have attacked more down the flanks. It wasn’t that the US played badly, but CR played a little better. We shouldn’t forget that the US beat Holland and that is a positive no matter what level you are playing at.

      • It’s ridiculous how many times people need to be told to chill out about losing a match here or there with young kids in a tournament where a team is thrown together last minute and they play 3 matches in 4 days. Use your brains, folks. This was a fun tournament to get some experience and get some of these guys used to each other.

    • CO, Brett, Devin, Gary- You shouldn’t look at it like that, you are in danger of being wrong about, “most of these guys won’t be there for qualifying.”

      1. We just learned from the U-20 Fifa World Cup that apparently club teams aren’t required to release players for youth-tournaments. It’s the freaking World Cup but Reading was able to keep a striker from Ramos. Same for one of our would be goal-keepers.

      2. The first stage of group games for the qualifying tournament is not on a Fifa date. Considering that the whole tournament is not on Fifa dates, and considering point 1 above, there is a chance we won’t get players we want.

      3. Complicating matters even more, Europe/MLS/Mexico are all in season in early October.

      4. Some of our top U-23 players are already senior-national team players and Klinsmann favorites. Perhaps he keeps them for senior-team friendlies instead of the qualifying tournament just like he is doing right now for the Toulon tournament.

      All this to say that you shouldn’t assume what you wrote above CO, this could be our team.

      • actually I might be confusing the GK that wasn’t released with the Toulon tournament? Not sure if it was for the u-20 World Cup or Toulon tournament. But the rest still stands.

      • I don’t even mean Brooks or Yedlin like above. There are players starting for their team in MLS which released a bunch of guys last cycle as well to help qualify. This tournament means nothing in the scheme of things and thus those teams didn’t release players. But sure go ahead and look at the rosters for the last few camps they’ve had and see how many guys are consistently there Mr I watch Jordan Morris more than you do

      • Not sure why you made the Jordan Morris quip but ok, i guess you are feeling frisky.

        By my count we are only missing Trapp, Gil, Shelton, and Villareal as worthy MLS’ers. Enlighten me if I am missing anyone. Lets say we gain them but lose out on some European based players on this current team. It’s debatable whether we are better or not. Time will tell. At least it still Concacaf so we have a shot. I said the same thing to myself last qualifying cycle though.

      • The GK was Horvath who wasn’t released for the U20s (and made his league debut in the meantime).

      • I did not address that issue, nor did I agree with the original statement, but was addressing other things. If I had to guess, I would guess that this tournament team will be about 75 to 80% similar to the team sent out for qualifying.

  9. Epic failure. Ruins our tradition of doing well in the Toulon Cup and Milky cup then getting fans hopes up right before epically crashing out of the World Cup or Olympics.

    Who would have guessed that athleticism with lack of technical ability only takes you so far? Oh anyone who is a U.S. Fan

    • Cue the “Well the players can learn from this failure” comments that accompanies the Olympic failures and others.

  10. It’s been very painful to watch various US youth teams over the last couple of years. You can see the imprints of our illustrious Technical Director everywhere. No offensive flow and cohesion, the midfield unable to do anything creative on offense and unable to defend against any decent opposition. On offense, the same long balls, reliance on set pieces, and hoping for lucky bounces. Just like the senior team. Herr Klinsmann certainly succeeded in having all national teams play the same.

    • Right, because under Coach Bob we used to pass like Barcelona.

      And my rec team had a bad game the other day, Herr Klinsmann might have had a hand in that too.

      • Does your rec team fall under the jurisdiction of the US Soccer Technical Director? Is your rec team coached by the man selected by Klinsmann?

        One has to be blind not to see the decline of the US national teams (at youth and senior levels) since Klinsmann has been in charge.

      • Right…you mean when last cycle finished and he had the best record all time of any US coach? When we had our second best World Cup performance in history (arguably best)? Huge decline indeed.

        US youth teams have shown poorly for years. This is not new. And Porter and Ramos are both born n bred Americans and were considered obvious hires by most observers.

        Blame the foreigner though!

      • “the best record all time of any US coach”

        What does that mean?? How meaningful is that? Let’s schedule a few more home games against the likes of Aruba and Guatemala…

        “When we had our second best World Cup performance in history (arguably best)?”

        Huh? Do you know anything about US soccer? In 2002, the US made it to the quarterfinal. In 2010, the US made it also to the round of 16 but winning the group in the process. How’s 2014 any better? Moreover, both in 2002 and 2010, the US actually played some attractive attacking soccer, unlike parking the bus for the most of WC-2014 (with the exception of the Portugal game).

        “Blame the foreigner though!”

        How stupid is that? (I’m a foreigner myself, from the same part of the world Klinsmann is.)

      • It “means” that he had the best record of any US coach. He also had a much tougher schedule than his predecessors, as CONCACAF was much improved and we had the most difficult set of friendlies we ever had. You can’t

        In the 2010 World Cup we had one of the easiest World Cup groups in history. In 2014 we had one of the most difficult, and our Round of 16 opponent was one on a different level than us. There is not a single player in the US squad that would have made Belgium’s final 23, and we were only a Wondo away from making the quarterfinals. This was of course after qualifying with ease through the group of death (not to mention we had Portugal beat until MB90’s mistake in the final seconds). In 2010 we only made it through in the final seconds. Had that goal not been scored, it would have been considered a massive failure. There’s no since in comparing apples and oranges but your claim that we have been in “decline” is completely unfounded and downright ludicrous.

        Moreover, if you think the soccer we played under Coach Bob was more “attractive” than it was under Klinsmann, I seriously doubt you have been watching the sport more than a couple of years. Or maybe you’re the type that prefers watching Chelsea to Bayern Munich.

      • Let us stop with this nonsense about the tough group in 2014. No one outside the US ever called it the “group of death”. We had a weakened Portugal with a half-fit Ronaldo and Ghana that was more interested in getting their bonuses than playing soccer. If anything, the results of the next round show that the supposedly easiest group — group H — was tougher than ours. Germany had a very difficult time with Algeria who were actually able to attack, shoot on goal, and create chances against the Germans. And the US performance against Belgium was nothing short of embarrassing. The strategy was to have Howard take the game into the PK shootout. The Belgians had much tougher time against any of their group opponents than they did against the US.

        I never particularly liked Bradley; however, he looked very good compared to who we have now. In addition, Klinsmann has achieved his results with this large pool of ersatz Americans, which didn’t exist before.

        And as far as how long I’ve been watching soccer… I remember watching live the WC-70 opener, a scoreless draw between Mexico and the USSR. Does that answer your question?

      • You have not been watching soccer for 45 years, that much is obvious. I don’t even know where to begin with this nonsense.

        Our group was referred to by everyone around the world as the group of death. I know because I’ve been an expat for years, and in the Argentine newspapers, for example, they called it el grupo de la muerte. First of all, that Portugal team has done well in every single tournament since the Euro ’04 and have only been eliminated by finalists. They are one of the best team’s and the world and we don’t have anyone that would make it into their starting line-up. They are much better than England was in 2010, who have been shockingly bad for about a decade now. The comment about Ghana collecting its bonuses is also incredibly ignorant because they are the best team from Africa and eliminated us the past two world cups, in case you didn’t watch. And Germany is arguably the best national team of all time. And then we had Belgium. We don’t have a single player that could make it into their squad. They are on a different planet than we are. Oh yeah, and we did this without three of our best players. Our team needs a target 9 and without Altidore we were stuck. Bradley has been woefully out of form since he was benched at Roma. And right before the world cup Landon decided to grow a beer gut and publicly make comments about not being able to train. We literally had no business making it outside of that group and we did so with flying colors and almost made it to the quarterfinals. Your comments in regards to the Belgium game are incredibly ignorant as no one, and I mean no one, faults us for that performance. And a goalkeeper cannot “take” a team to a penalty shootout in soccer (this isn’t hockey), and no manager has ever used this as a “strategy.”

        Your comments about Germany and Algeria (which you mentioned twice by the way) show that you didn’t watch this World Cup. Germany and Algeria have never played in a World Cup match before. And you would not be trying to minimize that Germany team if you knew anything about soccer. They, along with Spain cerca ’08, are arguably the best national team of all time. Never before has a host lost 7-1, for starters.

        The US had a better record in last cycle under Klinsmann (with a much tougher schedule) than it did under Coach Bob and we allowed fewer goals and scored more. We also played a much better brand of soccer. Under what metric were we better under Coach Bob? When did this team “look” better? Your comment about the “ersatz” Americans is very revealing, as well as ignorant (Arena and Bradley used plenty of dual nationals). This has everything to do with the fact that “Herr Klinsmann” is a foreigner.

      • This “decline” you describe seems to have involved an awful lot of unprecedented winning.

        I won’t even bother to enumerate JK’s accomplishments in charge since it has been done countless times and anybody can find them with a simple google search, but all this whining about our supposed “decline” seems to involve little quantifiable data, outside of experimental off-cycle friendly results, and occasional half-disappointments in youth exhibitions (which also happen to come with “unpleasant” inconsistencies,s like our 3-1 domination of Holland in this same tournament). I happen to like data,and the data does not show me much to support your claim.

        Show me the real data…. World Cup. WCQ’s. Gold Cup. Marquee friendlies. Performance vs. CONCACAF. And then show me this “decline”.

      • Are you JK’s lover? Every one of your posts communicates only one message- your craving for his manhood.

      • Best you got, huh? A “bro you’re gay” blast?

        I’ll see if I can check google some old “Momma jokes” for you from 20 years ago, and then we can have a fight in the sandbox.

        Nice new handle btw. Beats getting clowned repeatedly under your old ones, I guess.

      • Real data is above. Besides, given that Klinsmann makes at least 5-6 times as much as Bradley did, I would expect the same type of improvement result-wise, i.e. at least the WC semifinal.

      • Is that what this really comes down to? You’re mad about the USSF paying him too much?

        We should be paying top dollar for top managers, and while Klinsmann isn’t world class, he is certainly better than anyone else we can get.

        And I’ll let you in on a little secret: Klinsmann actually has a better reputation than Coach Bob in the soccer world. He has coached at some of the top teams in the world and turned down offers (Tottenham, Switzerland, etc.) that would have paid him considerably more than Coach Bob makes at Staebek. This is why he earns a higher salary.

      • No, I don’t really care what the USSF is paying Klinsmann. I’m not happy that the USMNT hasn’t played well under Klinsmann. I’m not happy that the USMNT is coached by a rotten human being.

      • Last I checked, Klinsmann was hired to coach the national team, not be a nice guy.

        Where on earth did you get the idea that he is a “rotten human being?” Do you know him personally? Because he actually does have a reputation for being a nice guy.

        You’re an obvious troll.

      • As an FYI, the reputation statement isn’t true. Klinsmann is not well respected in Belgium or Germany. A number of soccer media outlets ran articles covering the criticism of Klinsmann in Europe.

      • Actually, he is quite well-respected, which is why the German FA offered him an extension after the World Cup (which he turned down, because he wanted to manage the US). He might not be considered a world class manager but he is on a different level than anyone who would (seriously) consider managing the US, except for the odd mercenary.

    • Is this a serious comment? You think Klinsmann will fire Andi Herzog over this? Or did you mean “reassigned”?

      I mean, I can see a possibility that JK might consider having another guy (perhaps even himself) on the touchline for the Olympics. But Herzog is one of his most trusted assistants. I guarantee he will not flat-out fire the guy over results from the friggen Toulon tournament (in which we did actually play a very good game in convincingly beating Holland).

      I’m not saying I have total confidence in Herzog, because I def do not– and we were well-beaten by both France and Costa Rica. But this is hardly “grounds for firing”

      Herzog will not be fired. I promise you that. He won’t be sent to Siberia like Vasquez, either. But I do think we’re going to need some better resources coaching this group. We can’t afford inconsistent performances in this Olympic cycle, and right now both Ramos and Herzog have not convinced in this regard.

  11. Let’s hope that bringing in Brooks and Yedlin will help the defense when it’s time for qualifying because the back line is definitely suspect. CR had a much better defense and really stopped most attempted US attacks. It was only Morris’ outstanding play that produced the goal. Their man marking was much better and US players rarely had time or space on the ball. CR was definitely the better side and deserved the victory. And most all their players play in their domestic league. Hmmm.

  12. Shaky across the entire backline. Serna was particularly bad. Our defenders couldn’t defend, couldn’t string two passes together, couldn’t distribute. They showed zero poise and were so unhinged and unsteady it largely negated our attacking talent, which is actually quite good. They just never saw the ball. The unsteadiness across the back pretty much negated everything the US tried to do today, ended up trapped in our own half, unable to clear midfield for a lot of it. Our defenders were just terrible.

    Hernandez – #11 – is VERY good for the U-23’s. Other than that I didn’t see a ton of talent in the center of the midfield. Pelosi was very disappointing, and might have been the most-misnumbered #10 I’ve ever seen. Julian Green was very impressive the first half, and then faded out of the game and vanished, mostly because he burned all his energy tracking back to cover for the fact that Costa Rica was having their way with our outside backs.

    Seemingly a recurring theme for our young teams. At outside back we have guys with speed but no technical ability, or we have some guys like Dillon Serna with some foot skills but no physical ability. We do not have young wingbacks in the pool who can do both…which is why we always seem to be converting wingers to outside backs with the senior team and then living with their defensive frailties until they get it figured out.

    Bad outing, today, and I could care less if I ever see most of those defenders again. They pretty much showed zip.

    • Didn’t see the Costa Rica game, but had a similar assessment of the game against the Dutch. The defense looked shaky and the midfield lacked any authority, but at least in that game the forwards had chances and finished.


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