Costa Rica Sports – All you can say is that it was a complete ass kicking on Tuesday night in Costa Rica as the USMNT got demolished by La Sele.
Klinsmann’s side was taken apart by a rampant home side, with goals from Johan Venegas, Christian Bolanos and two from Joel Campbell consigning the team to its second straight loss to begin the final stage of World Cup qualifying.
“It is the defeat that hurts the most in my five years, there is no doubt about it,” Klinsmann said.
The Americans are now stuck on zero points in CONCACAF’s final six-team group stage that will send three teams to the World Cup and a fourth into a playoff, behind Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama and Honduras.
Klinsmann accepted some of the blame for the setback but also indicated he was dissatisfied with the level of fighting spirit shown by his players, as they followed up last Friday’s home defeat to Mexico with a far worse performance.
“There is always things that you say you could have done differently,” Klinsmann said. “It doesn’t matter about the system, it is about the compactness of the team. The willingness to fight back — and after the second goal they didn’t have that power or drive to get back in the game. It is a very bitter moment. They were too flay, not enough alertness there, not enough tempo.”
While the Americans have never fared well here, and now carry a 0-9-1 all-time record in the Costa Rican capital, this was arguably the lowest point of Klinsmann’s time in charge. Conceivably, it could cost him his job, despite his assertion that he is still the right man for the position.
“We won’t make any decisions right after games,” U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said. “We will think about what happened and talk with Jurgen and evaluate the situation.”
A header from Venegas after 43 minutes gave the hosts a deserved lead, and the U.S. never looked likely to turn the tide. A spectacular second-half burst put an exclamation point on Costa Rica’s victory, as Bolanos headed home the second on 68 minutes, before speedy substitute Campbell added two more thanks to breakaways.
By then the U.S. was a shadow of its usual self as the reality of losing back-to-back qualifiers to begin the Hexagonal final round in the CONCACAF region for the first time sunk in.
If some positives could be taken from last Friday’s home defeat to Mexico, there was little of solace that could be salvaged here. Back in June, Klinsmann possibly saved his job with a 4-0 victory over Costa Rica in the team’s second game of the Copa America. An identical scoreline here, in reverse, could have put him back on the hotseat.
While zero points from two games makes for dismal reading, there is still ample time for the team to recover. However, Klinsmann clearly has much to work on. His defense was never able to cope with the adventurous Costa Rican creative players and could not withstand the pressure for long enough to make the game competitive.
The opening goal came due to a mix-up between Jermaine Jones and John Brooks that allowed the home side to break, before Venegas, who plays club soccer for the Montreal Impact in Major League Soccer, got his head to a perfect cross from the left.
The second came thanks largely to a pinpoint ball from the opposite side by Costa Rica’s talisman and best player, providing a cross that Bolanos merely had to guide into the net.
Brooks and Omar Gonzalez were unable to withstand the onslaught of pace of late replacement Campbell, who twice exposed the USA’s defensive problems against genuine speed before slotting the ball by goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
Frustrations unsurprisingly boiled over, with Jozy Altidore getting involved in a tetchy exchange late on to become one of a string of Americans to be yellow carded on the night.
There are four months to pass until the next pair of qualifiers, and much to consider before then.
Martin Rogers , USA TODAY Sports, Edited By Dan Stevens