So the truth of the matter is that, as I start to write this, there’s still 15 minutes left in the USA’s World Cup qualifier at Costa Rica.
But the score is 3-0. The match is over. It’s been over since … well, let’s just say the key turning point in the match was the opening kickoff.
The United States was not expected by a ton of people to get a win tonight. Playing at Costa Rica hasn’t exactly been a barrel of fun for the Americans in recent qualifying cycles. Most everyone I know would have settled for a draw. A scoring draw would have been a bonus.
And for me, even a loss – by a goal in a game where both sides played well – would have at least been tolerable, provided the US were to get three points Saturday vs. Honduras in Chicago.
The only good news tonight for the Americans is there is that match on Saturday, because this one tonight is to be quickly forgotten.
But that doesn’t mean tonight’s effort (or lack there of) goes quietly into the past without comment. The US were utter crap tonight. I know there’s built-in excuses about the surface and the injuries to Frankie Hejduk and Brian Ching … whatever. We’ve seen the US play so well on so many occasions that a crapfest such as this is beyond unacceptable.
It started with the outside backs, with DeMarcus Beasley and Marvell Wynne looking like they belonged on a PDL side. Their poor play affected the center backs and the midfield, because they had to try and make up for their mistakes – and they couldn’t on Costa Rica’s first goal; the possession given to them off one of numerous awful first-touches by Beasley.
Everyone at the back and in the midfield was out to sea on Costa Rica’s second goal, a combination of nice passing and a sweet shot that left the hosts deservedly up 2-0 inside of 14 minutes.
But the third goal was the ultimate signal of US capitulation, as Pablo Herrera Barrantes lost the mark of Michael Bradley, who at least tried, then went past a jogging, uninterested Sacha Kljestan, then found his shot as the rest of the US players stood like Subbuteo figures, and beat Tim Howard with a finely placed shot.
Wynne had a horror sequence later in the second half where every ball he kicked spiraled out of bounds. We would have been better off with this guy at the back.
Offensively, the US wasn’t any better. Their free kicks were an abomination, and they were reduced to short corners in the second half when their regular ones couldn’t get over the first defender’s head. Much of the attack early consisted of hitting the ball long and hoping something good would happen. We could have put Dave Kingman or Adam Dunn in the team for that.
I’m not one to call for the coach’s head, but Bob Bradley has a lot to answer for here. The lineup questions, the formation (somewhat of a 4-3-3, but it morphed as players had to step in to other spots on the field to make up for teammates not getting the job done), and just the overall effort. Players should be able to motivate themselves, but there wasn’t enough effort, there wasn’t enough heart, and there isn’t nearly as much confidence in my mind that this team will suddenly hit the switch and turn it on Saturday to score a win over Honduras.
I don’t think the US is in threat of not qualifying – but I didn’t expect such a garbage performance. The team was an embarrassment and deserves to be called out on it. Past history in Costa Rica aside, the USA’s job was to go out and get some sort of good result on the night and perform well.
They did neither, and almost unfortunately were flattered by a late Landon Donovan penalty kick to make it a 3-1 final.
By no means, in any universe, did the US deserve to finish within two goals of Costa Rica tonight.
They were lucky not to be beat 5-0.
I thought we had advanced far enough that the above sentence would no longer be necessary except perhaps against only the absolute classiest of world opponents.