Costa Rica 3-1 USA: Saprissa Strikes Again
To those fans of the US National Team who have been around their was nothing surprising or alarming about this match or the scoreline. For newcomers to US Soccer who have begun to expect more or have been told to expect more. But for old veterans of the USMNT program nothing about this match was surprising other than perhaps how quickly Costa Rica scored.
Bob Bradley has to be given credit for confidence in youngsters Jose Francisco Torres, Marvell Wynne and Jozy Altidore. The pity of the early goal is that this was the most attack minded lineup Bradley has featured on the road since taking over in 2007 and we’ll never know how the US really intended to play. Bradley obviously wanted a quick athletic team to counter on the turf.
The US lost its shape totally at the back, with the holding midfielders totally out of position and the first touch of the defenders often times serving to help Costa Rica. The Ticos attackers had acres of space to exploit from the get go and many times had a mind numbing amount of time on the ball to make decisions. This was apparent on both the 2nd and 3rd Costa Rican goals.
Jose Francisco Torres after a rocky start settled in and played very well in the second part of the first half. But for some mysterious reason the only American attacking player who could hold the ball and had figured the hops of the turf out was subbed at halftime for Bradley favorite Sacha Kljestan.
Pablo Mastroeni had a poor match and his inability to close down defenders and his poor tackling technique was shocking. DaMarcus Beasley’s performance at left back was also poor. Michael Bradley tackled poorly and was consistently caught out of position.
The stoppage time PK goal by Landon Donovan produced a scoreline that flatters the US. But the truth is in historical terms this performance was predictable and the late PK may have actually made the game feel better than some other performances at Saprissa.
The US is still not good enough to win on the road in tough CONCACAF venues. For all the smoke being blown up the rear ends of some US fans by other US fans about dominating CONCACAF, this is still a team that looks scared and tactically naive when they go on the road. Saprissa, and Azteca will continue to be dungeons for the USMNT in the near future.
Any expectation that the US can get a result in Mexico or Honduras goes out the window. But the United States still has itself a massive home field advantage in CONCACAF qualidfers and Gold Cups that needs to continue to be exploited.