New England Soccer Today

Early Stumbles Sink U.S.

Photo: Kari Heistad/

Photo: Kari Heistad/

It was sweet revenge for Costa Rica in their nation’s capital.

Five months after losing to the United States amid blizzard-like conditions in Colorado, Costa Rica put the U.S. into an early, two-goal hole it could not climb out and claimed a 3-1 win in Friday’s World Cup Qualifier in Estadio Nacional in San Jose.

Johnny Acosta Zamora opened the account in the third minute, while Celso Borges put Costa Rica in command in the ninth minute. Clint Dempsey slotted converted a 43rd minute penalty, but Joel Campbell put it out of reach in the 75th minute.

The Ticos’ win extended their home dominance (8-0-1) over the Yanks, and put them on top of the CONCACAF Qualifying table, one point clear of the U.S. Meanwhile, the U.S.’s saw their historic, 12-game winning streak snapped.

U.S. stalwart Michael Bradley was a late scratch after suffering a left ankle sprain during warmups, and was replaced by Attleboro’s Geoff Cameron.

Costa Rica kicked off the match on the right foot when Joel Campbell crossed for Zamora, who headed it past Tim Howard to put the Ticos on top inside of three minutes.

Still smarting from the early goal, the ditch the U.S. fell into only became deeper when Christian Bolanos sent inside the area for Borges, who glanced it through to make two-nil in the ninth minute.

Although the U.S. tipped the possession scale heavily in their favor, the fight in the Costa Rica XI was greater, as they pounced on a number of second balls and generally outplayed their guests for much of the first frame.

But all hope wasn’t lost when Johnson broke into the box, and was brought down by Navas to set up the penalty. From there, Dempsey sent it through to cut the deficit in half before the interval.

Dempsey nearly struck for the second time when he grabbed a pass from Landon Donovan and ripped a shot off the post, as the U.S. came within inches of leveling the match just before the hour.

That miss proved to be costly, as Campbell collected a long ball, beat Matt Besler, and sent it through in the 75th minute to keep the U.S. winless in Costa Rica.

The U.S. returns to action on Tuesday when they face arch-rival Mexico at Crew Stadium in Columbus.

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