USA 2:2 Costa Rica: Bornstein a Hero in Honduras


Entering the final stages of CONCACAF qualifying, the great hope was that Honduras, filled with top European club footballers could shake up CONCACAF a bit and qualify for the World Cup. Costa Rica with a group of players either too old, or simply not good enough to get single solitary result at next year’s World Cup, would have been a disaster for the region had they qualified automatically.

Costa Rica’s qualification would have been the worst possible news for a Confederation hard up for international respect. Rene Simoes did give the Ticos a new manager bounce in Matchdays nine and ten, but this “bounce” is unlikely to last past tonight, especially after his late sending off. The Ticos arguably would have been the worst side to qualify for the World Cup from any region, at this stage had they hung on.  Simoes was a magician with Jamaica, and he almost pulled it off again until the late match antics killed the Ticos.

But Jonathan Bornstein fixed that, and must go down as a hero in Honduras, who with a golden generation makes their first World Cup since 1982. Carlos Pavon, the goat on Saturday redeemed himself in San Salvador, giving El Salvador its first home loss of the Hex.

The United States does win the Hexagonal, thanks to Javier Aguirre’s decision to play a reserve side down in Port of Spain. Winning the Hex means little in the big picture, but with Mexico still having the potential to be seeded, I was surprised Aguirre did not give it a go, at least for the first half.

Mexico’s World Cup qualification is borderline criminal because they used a succession of favorable calls in the previous round of qualifying to eliminate Jamaica on goal difference and advance to the Hex. The truth may hurt El Tri fans, but they are living on borrowed time this cycle and should not have gotten this far. That having been said, with the current squad Aguirre has, Mexico could be dangerous next summer.

Then again, perhaps Aguirre is using this extra qualifier the way he used to Gold Cup: to deepen his player pool, something the US did not do tonight, until late when we saw Torres, Rogers and Cooper get a run out in a desperate situation. Tonight’s game was emotional given Charlie Davies horrible car crash and injuries, and Davies quality was certainly missed on the pitch.

The problem is despite the victory, the limitations in the US team without Davies and Clint Dempsey were exposed tonight. Jozy Altidore’s work rate is high but he is stagnating as a footballer. A reason exists that neither Villareal nor Xerex choose not to utilize him and he has been replaced at Hull by Hesselink. Altidore’s first touch is poor, runs are less than sharp and his finishing touch, simply awful.

Costa Rica is not a good team- I’d rather their overall talent as the 7th best in CONCACAF. Of course, they were desperate and the US was heartbroken after the Davies injury. But to ignore the deficiencies that were evident tonight, would be trouble. The US will face a very good Danish team next month in a high profile friendly in Aarhus. That game will tell us a great deal about the progression of this US team.

Winning the Hex was meaningless, for Mexico in the bigger scheme of things. But for the US, it was important we played hard and got a result today given the impact it would have on qualification for Honduras and Costa Rica.

Credit to Bob Bradley for fielding a full team available and not gifting qualification to Costa Rica. Honduras, as I stated earlier will represent CONCACAF better in South Africa. Ultimately, though the US leaves this match with more question marks than many supporters would like to admit and more spirit and fight than the critics would acknowledge. Ultimately, that leaves us with little idea how next summer will play out.


I don’t want to toot my own horn, because I am wrong ALOT, but in 2007 I said Honduras would qualify and Costa Rica would not for the next World Cup. At the time I was laughed at because Honduras didn’t even make the Hex last time, but I saw the talent and potential, not only on the National Team level but by watching Olimpia and Marathon on the club level.

In fairness, I was only a Johnny B. miracle away from not being correct!

The truth is that Mexico should not have been in Hex and only got this far due to a succession of bad, suspicious calls in games that affected their advancement in the last round. Had CONCACAF’s officiating been straight up, Costa Rica very well may have joined Honduras and the US as automatic qualifiers from the region.

51 thoughts on “USA 2:2 Costa Rica: Bornstein a Hero in Honduras”

  1. Glad to see Costa Rica not get in after their despicable time wasting tactics. Much rather have Honduras who’s fans might be the only classy fans in CONCACAF. I was pleasantly surprised with how well Torres and Rogers played.

  2. Nice comeback to get a draw but the US has a big problem of going down early and trying to battle back. The defense is shambolic.

  3. It was a very emotional win, and a great tribute to Charlie.

    That said, I’m worried about Onyewu. It’s never a good sign when you see an opposing player signal for medical assistance so quickly.

  4. Congratulations to the United States! It wasn’t pretty, but it still counts. Now comes the eight months of build up and hype to what will hopefully be a World Cup where the US can show the world how well we can play. Still a lot more work to do!

    The Gaffer

  5. Great showings from Torres, Rogers, and Cooper deserved more minutes. Casey was back to being the waste of international space that he is.

  6. One of the worst officials I have seen. The Costa Rican team was robbed. The USA team should consider themselves THIEFS. No real victory here.

    1. HA! Yeah right. What was so bad about the leadup to the second goal? Too much stoppage time? I don’t think so.

      And even if the ref gave the Americans too long, they still had to take it. Blame the lax defending in the box that gave a goal to probably the palyer least likely to get one on the pitch.

    2. Of course it wasn’t a victory, it was a draw.

      There was going to be less stoppage time, then Rene Simoes lost his mind and shoved the fourth official. This meant the referee had to come over, what does that mean? Yes, more stoppage time! I don’t know if you noticed through your anger, Manuel, but Costa Rica was managed by the freaking physio at the end, two coaches got sent off for bothering match officials in that little scrum.

      But, you can hate if you want. Hate and love are obsessions of equal measure.

    3. Oh yeah – that ref from MEXICO really went easy on us. So typical of them!

      Pfft – whatever. Care to offer any specifics, dude? Or are you just going to talk smack?

      Oh, and by the way – the plural is thieves….idiot.

  7. Really sad to see Gooch go down. That did not look good.

    On the bright side, AWESOME GROUP WIN, BOYS! Really glad that the blatant time wasting tactics failed on Costa Rica’s part. Here’s to South Africa, boys!

  8. Well, um Manuel. There wasnt any victory. And Archundia, who’s Mexican, favoured the US? You must be joking. Costa Rica, always dangerous on the break till the end, and yet packed it in WAY too early, always comes back to haunt a side, especially against a determined US side who was unlucky not to have scored earlier.

  9. Still pumped after the wild finish. You thought a easy victory would have been a fitting finish but this seems even better, a legend is born. 2 goals down, down a man late, everyone sad by the absence of Charlie Davies, but we find a way to win the group and be CONCACAF CHAMPS!

    Let’s face it we should have had 3 or 4 scores in the first half even with the team understandably looking a bit slow tonight. Yet, we pull it out late and win the group and send off Costa Rica to a playoff. Sorry for them a bit.

    Say what you will about Bornstein he has always played hard and did so again tonight. Torres showed he wants to make the trip to South Africa and Conor Casey looks like a keeper for the 2010 team. Glad to see Michael Bradley put the first score in.

    What a story the soccer of summer has been, the qualification run, the Confed Cup. The US team has shown it can beat the best if it plays it’s best. We have a lot to appreciate between now and June and I can’t wait until the Denmark friendly. For me as a soccer fan the USMNT and international football has become primary. I love my Chicago Fire and MLS, enjoy the drama and soap opera nature of the EPL with some of the world’s best talent, and the theater of the Champions League. Yet none of it compares with what we saw these last two games and what a heartfelt experience the last week has been.


    1. You really believe the Spain game wasn’t a one off? C’mon, this team got a missed PK to beat Honduras and extra stoppage time thanks to a psycho bench to draw Costa Rica at home. Without Davies this team has little attacking prowess.

      Some of our fans are so deluded it’s crazy.

      1. Eric:

        It is hard not to be deluded as you say. A rational view is that the US has talent and when the talent plays to it’s highest level it can win against anyone. We won the group and best Spain those are facts. Did we win the group in perfect picture of play no, but who does. Kartik wrote a piece today about how bad Mexico looked over most of this last year and got into the final group by trick rather than skill. You can not deny the US earned it’s spot and I would guess most of us here me included believe Mexico to be a top 10 team or close to it. Well if that is the case the record is for years now the USA dominates Mexico when it counts.

        Can we beat Spain or Brazil or Germany more often than not? No. Can we play with those team teams and get a result if things go right? Yes. Can we advance far in the WC? Yes. How far? Who knows. I will tell you Bob Bradley has a lot of work to do and the team needs a lot of time together before next June but this will not be a repeat of 2006. Yes, we will greatly miss Charlie Davies.

        GO USA

  10. USA !!!!! USA!!!! USA!!!….

    Well, if its one thing we have all learned about the team is that we know how to fight and come back for a win or a draw…You can never count us out…I say who cares about Mexico…Costa Rica wasnts robbed…if anybody was doing anything wrong it was Costa Rica with thier time wasting subbing…thier faking of injuries….and thier coach trying to hold up the game.

  11. great finish…Onyewu out and not going to be match fit for the WC and man i still can stop thinking about charlie…just glad he’s still here but man did we ever miss his skill and class on the ball tonight.

  12. All the same, Honduras showed class. I’m happy to see them benefit.

    It was interesting to me to see the players that aren’t really regular starters really bust their asses as subs.

    1. Honduras is the most “un-latin,” latin team in CONCACAF. They tend to rely on pace and athleticism, not diving and creativity, which is why their players have settled better in Northern Europe than many Mexicans and Costa Ricans.

  13. Costa Rica are diving image-seekers and I’m glad that they lost. Their fans are the wannabe Goths of Central America – some of which to be proud – and their coaching staff are amateurish hot-heads. Enjoy the trip to El Centenario. Be sure to bring your Kevlar graphite shinguards. I’m sure that the two-legger with Uruguay will inspire some splendid prose from Galeano.

  14. great win for the team but even better to see costa rica not get the qualification spot. they would hav lost all three group games in the WC no question.

    Honduras is going to be a team that could sneak through the group stage if the draw goes their way.

    PS: onyewu could be out till APRIL!!!!

  15. For me Costa Rica is a paradox. On their good days — and they do have them — they’re as good as the US or Mexico, and have beaten both of them convincingly. But on their bad days they’re REALLY, REALLY bad. They showed this in San Pedro Sula when they were throttled 4-0 by Honduras.

    Sadly for them they can’t hold it together and they’re always either really good, or really bad. More often than not, really bad.

  16. Jamie Trecker: “Jonathan Bornstein does not belong on that field.” Just another gem from the Fox Soccer writer who ain’t afraid to tell the truth.

    PS – The USMNT hasn’t lost since the last time Trecker and his sycophant enablers on this site called for Bob Bradley’s ouster.

    Oh yeah, I thought Mexico was going to win the World Cup! What happened? Top five in the world, remember? Remember the joy and the beautiful game in Saprissa you guys went on and on about, while we could only manage an ugly 1 goal win in T&T? Well your World Cup favorites El Tri just tied in T&T, where we won, but I’m not holding my breath for any rethinking.

      1. Aguirre looks like a genius. So they didn’t win the Hex but didn’t suffer a devastating injury either, like we did to Gooch.

        Overall, I thought the performance was poor and if we can only get a draw at home versus Costa Rica, we have issues. Yes, great comeback, outstanding fighting mentality, but still too many deficiencies.

        Lately, Kartik I have been disappointed in your work. You seem gun shy to actually critique this program the way you used to because of the legion of wave the flag types that gravitate to this site. It is obvious to some of us you are scared to lose readers. Pretty soon, your core audience, those who actually understand that you know what you are talking about and understand tactics and how soccer should look are going to abandon you. Keep that in mind.

        1. I agree, Darren. Kartik has done a lot of pandering since EPLNFL and others demanded an apology for that post T&T pod. I’m truthfully getting sick of someone whose opinion seems to have changed from being spot on, to being an apologist.

          I love how K doesn’t even critique the performance in this post, nor did he critique the Honduras performance in that post. He’s just resorting to the types of platitudes EPLNFL and others want, so they keep coming back.

          I mean truthfully, K, didn’t you say the US dominated against Honduras. What game were you watching? Mexico- El Salvador?

          And tonight, you don’t even bother to mention how bad the US midfield was most of the game. You are right about Altidore and have been right about the lack of talent in this team, but are off the mark again.

          Do you really think that drawing Costa Rica at home is some sort of great victory.

          As for the T&T “win” we played our starters while Mexico today played almost a full second team. They avoided injury and moved on, whereas we had to gut out a 1-0 win.

          People who think things are going well seem to forget how bad CONCACAF is. CONCACAF is so bad that Costa Rica was within a minute of making the World Cup.

          1. Eric:

            I come back here because of the intelligent and insightful commentary and the quality of the people who read and post here.This is not a site that desires to obtain the vast number of people who maybe interested in soccer but who if you do not tell them their team is great simply tell you up yours. It’s deeper than that.

            Read Alex Caufields recent piece. That is some of the best writing you will see anywhere on any subject period. That’s what I come back for. I disagree often with Jamie Trecker and even believe that some of his opinions are lacking in depth, yet I have read his blog and his book and the man is a writer worth reading and having his opinions listened to. Not agreed with always but worth the look and listen.

            I think Kartik’s piece on Mexico too extreme but yet I admire his courage in posting it and it brings up valid points for our consideration even if wrong in my opinion. Ok, I’m from Chicago and love Blanco, I’ll admit it.

            So, if you want good and insightful writings and podcasts on the American game and the world of soccer this is the place to come.

        2. I Darren, admit that the flag wavers are annoying, and often times show their ignorance of football with the postings they leave, BUT ultimately they do not affect me and I simply want what is best for this program long term. Was the win over Honduras perfect? No. But it was more positive than negative.

          Tonight, despite the great finish which benefited Honduras more than anyone else, was more negative than positive. The USMNT is like a roller coaster. People can criticize Trecker, but he has consistently said this side plays one really good game, one really bad game and one so-so game in a three game period. Any snapshot of time generally tells that tale.

          I think Bradley would have liked to have done what Mexico did tonight- play reserves and not risk injury. But given the implications for both Honduras and Costa Rica, he did the sporting thing and lost Gooch.

          I am still very critical of the problems I see. But the problems as I see are with a lack of talent, a lack of discipline and a lack of player development. Given these factors, I believe Bob Bradley is doing the best job possible with this program. Would Guus Hiddink do better? Perhaps, but he could also do much much worse.

  17. Thanks, thanks USA. You showed the staff that champions are made off. What a way to win. I am sure It will be a great World Cup. USA the best of CONCACAF, Brazil the best of South America, and Honduras in the World Cup for the first time since I had to pay to see them in a black and white 13″ tv in 1982. What a beautifull day. Go USA. Go Honduras. Go Brazil. I will request my vacation for next June tomorrow. Ah! I almost forgot. Costa Rica, I will be with you next month when you play Uruguay.

  18. I agree wholeheartedly re: Honduras, they’ll be fun to watch in the WC. Costa Rica? Not so much. That said I’ll be pulling for them against Uruguay, if they can pull that off it would increase the standing of CONCACAF. I wouldn’t say they’d lose all 3 matches–don’t forget, someone gets to play either Bahrain or New Zealand!

  19. Seybold,
    The winner of Costa Rica and Uruguay go to the World Cup. The winner of Bahrain and New Zealand will also go to the World Cup. It is only a two game series and Bahrain/New Zealand already played the first leg (0-0).

  20. Winning the Concacaf hex is far more impressive than any hex win in the European qualifying. For all the talk about the minnows in Concacaf, the truth is winning the Concacaf hex is far more difficult than anything Spain, Italy, England or Germany or any other European team had to do to qualify for South Africa. None of those teams had a road game that compares with going to Azteca, Saprissa or last night’s games at San Pedro Sula. There are no Montenegros, Faroe Islands, Andorras or Liechtensteins in the Concacaf hex. In fact, the worst team in our hex, Trinidad and Tobago, is probably better than the worst 10 teams in the European qualification. Reigning champion Italy has qualified with six wins in its nine games (just like the US), but Italy has had to play Ireland, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Montenegro and Georgia. Did you know that Cyprus had 1,100 people show up for one of their WCQ games? All those Euro football snobs can go stick it. If the US wins the Concacaf, it will be a fantastic achievement.

    1. I’m with you on the quality of the final group in Concacaf and that all the Eruosnobs should get their nose of their playoff round(why do they have this btw) and take a look of the 3 great teams that came out of Concacaf.

  21. Quote from Katrik
    “Did you see the squad Mexico fielded? Besides, does Germany’s draw after qualifying today against Finland, mean they will not win the World Cup. ”

    Katrik can you explain why your beloved Mexico finshed 2nd to the U.S ?

    1. Beloved Mexico? Do you realize how much I hate them? Because I consider a team solid doesn’t mean I like them. I consider Brazil the world’s best but loathe them- my job is not to cheerlead, US Soccer does that with their press releases but to critically analyze.

      Besides, they fielded a “B” team today. Good for T&T and Russell Latapay though. I guess, when it comes down to it, I do kind of like both T&T and Jamaica.

      In reality, Mexico should not have even made the Hex. They made it because of TWO bad calls at Azteca versus Honduras in the first game of the semifinal round.

  22. Hello Kartik,
    Sorry I took this long to respond to your article but I had to send of congratulation email to roughly 25 friends (I think you know who).
    Beloved Mexico? I think not! I am about as big a fan of Mexico as you are.
    One thing missing is what this does for Honduras. If any team in CONCAF has been snake bit it has been them. The bad calls at Azteca. I still remember when 6 or 7 shots hit the post against T&T in a 1-0 loss, when all they needed was a tie. With what has been going on in Honduras it is amazing that they were able to pull together like they have.
    If Manuel thinks Costa Rica was robbed something is wrong with his television or he was on the wrong channel.

  23. Everyone’s a winner on the Costa Rica-Uruguay situation: if CR wins, hurray for Concacaf. If they lose, screw ’em.

  24. Fellas,

    please be honest to yourselves. Excepting Eric, most of your comments are biased and based on spurial circunstances. As simple as this, if the referee woulded granted 4 minutes of extratime instead of the unusual 5, all of you would be blaming the US team for not imposing its localness, and probably praising CR for its consistency (at least against the US). Here I am not discussing the US skills and courage to capitalize that gift.

    Without it (the gift), there was no way you could Tie with CR. You’re minimizing the merits of CR of beating you once inexorably, and we were doing it again in your field, having you look bad for more than 60 minutes until you got your gift, out of time in my opinion. So just pure circunstances…

    In the first game you were completely outplayed by Costa Rica without excuse, and in the US, we had the character to be able to hit first in two occasions and thereby controlling the game. If you looked better in the 2nd half was simply because our coach decided that was time to protect the lead, bad call or lack of guts, whatever, but still you were this close to be beat in your own ground.

    You know we deserve more credit because we simply do not your resources!!!

    I don’t think CR has been robbed, this external circunstances count, but those are different from own merit. As someone was saying that Mexico recovered based on tricks and circunstances more than in self merit.

    The US earned its position because of a long sustained process and I congratulate them, but I am not sure you can say you are the best in the area yet.

  25. Torres must see the pitch more often.

    He was doing everything a holding midfielder should do and most of the best distribution in the match (for the U.S.) came off the feet of Torres.

  26. The U.S. is in but six choice players for the final roster are out injured. A seventh player who would make the initial 35 man roster is out for six months. Kartik please update not just Davies. Other players injured include Sizzo, Gooch, Dempsey,Demerit, Edu, and Jermaine Jones who with a full roster of fit and healthy players could give the U.S. a chance.
    The U.S. had the worst defensive results in this final round allowing 13 goals the previous worst was 9 during the 1998 massive disaster. Thus, I am very worried. First we have to look at how the draw goes. Only a handful of teams do not have to worry about the draw determining their future and obviously the U.S. is not one of them.

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