Snap Judgments: USMNT vs. Costa Rica – World Cup Qualifier (09.01.17)

Robert Cole/ALOST
It was the fans of Los Ticos who were able to wave their red, white and blue flag proudly after its 2-0 win over the United States, the country's first win in World Cup Qualifying over the US in 32 years. (Robert Cole/ALOST)
It was the fans of Los Ticos who were able to wave their red, white and blue flag proudly after Costa Rica’s 2-0 win over the United States, the country’s first win in World Cup Qualifying on US soil in 32 years. (Robert Cole/ALOST)


akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief


HARRISON, NJ — In the figurative sense, Costa Rica took advantage of its few shots that it had on Friday night to come away with one of the most historic wins in the nation’s footballing history. Literally, they only had two shots on goal the entire match.

Both of them went in the back of the net.

Marco Ureña scored on each side of the halftime break as Costa Rica dealt the United States team a ego-bruising 2-0 defeat inside of Red Bull Arena, Costa Rica’s first win on American soil in a World Cup Qualifier since 1985. Los Ticos now just need to collect three points combined in its final three games in the hexagonal qualifying round to secure a 2018 World Cup spot. The United States now is tied with Honduras for third-place – and the last automatic World Cup qualifying place – with a daunting trip to San Pedro Sula in Honduras to play its next qualifying match in four days time on Tuesday.

Costa Rica played five at the back and spent most of the time flooding the midfield, not allowing the United States to gain any real rhythm all night. When the US had its chances, they were wasteful and lacked the clinical finishing touch, whether it be with the inch-perfect pass or with an accurate shot to test Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas.

Costa Rica found its breakthrough in the 30th minute after center backs Geoff Cameron and Tim Ream were exposed for being too far apart, allowing a pass down the middle to send Ureña through on the United States goal. Ureña, who plays in Major League Soccer for the San Jose Earthquakes, made no mistake in slotting home a shot across American goalkeeper Tim Howard to the far post to give Costa Rica the lead.

A few minutes before that, the United States had a strong appeal for a penalty turned down when forward Jozy Altidore was run into by defender Kendall Watson. Altidore’s night got a whole lot worse in the 80th minute, picking up a yellow card, one which will now rule him out of the Honduras game due to yellow card accumulation.

Ureña capped off the evening with his second goal, capitalizing from a bad pass by Cameron to once again move in on Howard’s goal virtually unfettered before finishing off the Americans with his strike.

The biggest difference maker in tonight’s game may have well been Navas, who made a spectacular save off of a deflected shot from the foot of Christian Pulisic in the 67th minute. Led by Navas, who skipped the Gold Cup competition earlier this summer, Costa Rica outscored the United States 6-0 in the two qualifying games in the “Hex.” The United States took just one point out of a possible 12 in offer in the two games against both Mexico and Costa Rica, the top two teams in qualifying.

*Editor’s note: Above the story is the photo gallery from today’s game, with all photos taken by our senior photographer, Robert Cole. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 35 pictures in total.

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