New England Soccer Today

Regional Upset

CARSON, Calif. – Portland Timbers defender Rodney Wallace scored the lone goal of the match for Costa Rica in the 65th minute, shortly after entering the game for his debut, and it would be all the visitors would need to leave the U.S. with a 1-0 win.

The U.S. Men’s National Team started strong on Friday night, but failed to find the back of the net, and Costa Rica made them pay with an improved second half effort and the eventual goal from Wallace.  The U.S. piled the pressure on Costa Rica late in the match looking for an equalizer, but couldn’t break down the Ticos’ defense and fell to 0-1-1 after two friendlies under new coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

Wallace’s goal came after Real Salt Lake’s Alvaro Saborio beat the U.S. offside trap and sent a pass back to Michael Barrantes in the box about 10 yards from goal. Barrantes blasted a shot on frame that goalkeeper Tim Howard spectacularly saved, but Wallace powered in the rebound, beating Howard despite a valiant effort to get a touch on it.

The goal was the result of a breakdown from the inexperienced U.S. defense. Howard and Captain center back Carlos Bocanegra marshaled the backline, but the pair was joined by young defenders Tyson Chandler, Edgar Castillo and Michael Orozco

But while the defense was the story on Costa Rica’s goal, it was the U.S. offense that looked strong in the opening half. Maurice Edu played the anchor behind Landon Donovan and Jose Torres in midfield, while striker Jozy Altidore was supported by Brek Shea and Robbie Rogers on the wings.

The combination looked dangerous early when Donovan had the first chance for the U.S. in the 6th minute after Brek Shea and Jozy Altidore combined down the left flank. Shea found Donovan in space at the top of the box, but the U.S. all-time leading scorer’s low shot rolled just wide of the near post.

A minute later it was Shea and Altidore combining again. This time Shea found Altidore with a ball over the top and the young striker ran into the box. With two defenders on his back, Altidore scuffed a shot that was easily saved by goalkeeper Keylor Navas.

Costa Rica first tested Howard in first half stoppage time. First Randall Azofeifa threated with a shot from outside of the box that forced Howard into a diving save. Seconds later the Ticos caught the U.S. on a counter attack and found Alvaro Sanchez in space outside the box. Sanchez dribbled forward and blasted a shot on frame, but Howard managed to tip it over.

The visitors had another opportunity around the hour mark when a cross from found Randall Brenes about 12 yards from goal. Brenes’ first header was blocked, but he got the rebound in space, only to weakly hit a shot at Howard.

Five minutes later Wallace would take advantage of Costa Rica’s strong opening to the second half with his first international goal.

Torres would come close to equalizing in the 71st minute, getting the ball outside the box and hammering a long range shot towards the lower corner. Navas just managed to keep the shot out with a diving save.

Substitute Juan Agudelo threatened in the 84th minute after Chandler found him just outside the box on the right flank. Agudelo dribbled through two defenders and in on goal, but couldn’t beat an onrushing Navas.

That would be the last good chance of the match for the U.S. as they struggled to break down Costa Rica’s defense the rest of the way.

The U.S. now travels to Brussels to face Belgium on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. ET.

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