The U.S. began the World Cup qualifying Hexagonal with two losses for the first time ever. Tuesday’s match was the first time the U.S. gave up four goals in a World Cup qualifier since a 4-2 loss to Canada in 1968.
After getting blitzed with a 3-5-2 formation against Mexico, the U.S. returned to a more traditional 4-4-2 setup against the Ticos. It wasn’t much better Tuesday as the Americans came out flat and let the Ticos run all over them.
Brad Guzan, starting in net in place of the injured Tim Howard, was no match for the Costa Rican strikers. Costa Rica sub Joel Campbell scored twice in four minutes in the second half.
Guzan’s save on Brian Ruiz’s bicycle kick in the 14th minute kept the match scoreless. The shot nearly went off the face of Guzan, who was starting in place of the injured Tim Howard.
Costa Rica broke the scoreless tie late in the first half with a Johan Venegas header off a cross from Christian Bolaños. Venegas left in the 66th minute with an injury, but coming out of the break, the Ticos added to their lead as Bolaños sped past Timmy Chandler to boot a chopper that got by Guzan.
Things got testy in the 71st minute after Jozy Altidore picked up a yellow card by running into Celso Borges. That set off a brief shoving match between the clubs before order was restored.
Minutes later Campbell, who was the replacement for Venegas, made it a 3-0 Costa Rica advantage by beating John Brooks one-on-one for a deep ball into the U.S. zone. Campbell easily then poked it past Guzan in the 74th minute. Campbell made it a 4-0 game with a similar shot four minutes later.
Starting 0-2 in their group puts the Americans behind the 8-ball in their attempt to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The USMNT has plenty of time to recover with its next match not until March against Honduras.