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List of Americans Abroad

Hejduk, others unavailable as Americans visit Costa Rica for qualifier.

Altidore's three goals lead strong U.S. effort in win over T&T.

U.S. responds to poor effort with late rally to draw El Salvador 2-2.

U.S. continues home domination of Mexico by starting final qualifying with 2-0 victory.

Final round of World Cup qualifying opens with weakened Mexico.

Kljestan shines in dull U.S. victory over Sweden.

CONCACAF draw has Americans facing Mexico to open final round of qualifying.

Cooper, Adu lead U.S. to dominant, if meaningless, decision over Guatemala.

Qualifying loss to ascendant T&T means little to U.S. men.

Cooper says no to invitation to join U.S. team in qualifying.

U.S. bursts into final round of qualifying by demolishing Cuba 6-1.

Improved U.S. attack sinks T&T, nears advancement to final qualifying round.

Americans score first victory in Guatemala in ugly qualifier.

High security follows Americans around Guatemala City.

Qualifying semifinals begin with trip to unfriendly Guatemala.

U.S. methodically closes out Barbados to advance in qualifying.

Against weak foe, U.S. attack finally finds itself in 8-0 qualifying rout of Barbados.

Howard saves U.S. men in 0-0 draw with Argentina in match of tired teams.

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Analysis

Costa Rica humiliates Americans 3-1 in World Cup qualifier.

By Robert Wagman
SoccerTimes

(Thursday, June 4, 2009) -- The United States men embarrassed themselves, losing 3-1 to a good Costa Rican team in a CONCACAF World Cup qualifier before a packed Estadio Stadium in San Jose, Costa Rica last night.

There is not a lot that can be said about the U.S. effort. It was confused on defense, consistently outplayed in the midfield and completely ineffectual in the final third. How bad was the attack? The Americans managed only two shots on goal all night and the only dangerous effort was Landon Donovan's penalty kick in stoppage time -- a gift from Trinidad and Tobago referee Neal Brizan after U.S. defender Oguchi Onyewu was pulled down by defender Junior Diaz following a long throw-in.

U.S. coach Bob Bradley was forced to use something of a makeshift lineup with his top two right-side defenders -- Steve Cherundolo and Frankie Hejduk - injured, as were midfielder Maurice Edu and striker Brian Ching. None of the players who replaced them did well, but then neither did the regulars.

The U.S. has never had much luck at Saprissa. Costa Rica won the last game there between the nations 3-0 in 2006. Tonight, however, it was not the venue, the hostile crowd or the awful old, worn down artificial playing surface. The Americans simply played a dreadful match, surely its worst outing since the 3-0 loss to the Czech Republic in the opening match of the 2006 World Cup.

"As a group tonight, we came up short in every way," Bradley said. "I don't think there was any area at all where we were good enough to win a game against a good team. We were under pressure from the start. We fell short. We recognize that and we have a quick turnaround for the next game."

From the start, the Ticos attacked the flanks of the U.S. defense. In the second minute, DaMarcus Beasley, playing on the left side of defense for the second match in a row, made a poor clearance that hit a teammate and fell to Costa Rica's Andy Herron. He squared it to Alvaro Saborio, who turned and split two U.S. midfielders before hitting a perfect curling shot that went over Tim Howard and into the top left of the net for a 1-0 lead

In the 13th minute, it was the other side. With U.S. right defender Marvell Wynne upfield and out of position, Costa Rico's Junior Diaz made a run down the left wing. Both U.S. central defenders moved to cover when he played the ball to Esteban Serias. Serias passed to an unmarked Celso Borges running up the middle for a one-time volley of the bouncing past Howard for a 2-0 advantage.

In the 69th minute, there was another American defensive breakdown. Beasley was absent when Pablo Herrera received the ball from Walter Centeno on the right side of the penalty area. Before a defender could challenge, he fired a low shot inside the right post from about 10 yards out to make it 3-0.

Both Bradley and his predecessor Bruce Arena preach defending as a team when playing against a good opponent or in a pressure situation. That is exactly what the U.S. didn't do tonight. The Americans lost their defensive shape too often. With the outside defenders flaying around and pulling the central defenders every which way, the midfielders provided little defensive help on any of the three Costa Rican goals.

The best example of the poor U.S. midfield play was that Ticos defensive midfielder Borges was allowed to run free down the middle into the American end without ever really being challenged.

At the other end, with Costa Rica dominating in the midfield, the U.S. was never able to get a coherent offense going. The Americans made a more determined effort in the second half, but were off target with long shots or found they were attacking against greater numbers.

"We need to learn from tonight, but the most important thing is getting over it as quickly as possible, taking what you can from it," U.S. midfielder Landon Donovan told reporters. "We have three days physically and mentally to turn it around against a very good team (Honduras, Saturday's qualifying opponent in Chicago) who has been resting and preparing for us all week"

The Honduras match at Soldiers Field, likely be played in front of an almost sold out pro-Honduran crowd, has now become extremely important. With the next U.S. match slated for Mexico City's Azteca Stadium in August, less than a victory Saturday will spell real trouble for the American World Cup effort.


U.S. player ratings

Starters

Goalkeeper Tim Howard - 5: He was not at all at fault on the first two Costa Rican goals, but then he also did not make the kind of saves he is capable of either.

Defender Marvell Wynne - 3.5: Often out of position, he was beaten a number of times in a not-ready-for-prime-time appearance.

Defender DaMarcus Beasley - 3.5: Showed he is not a defender. He can push forward with some effectiveness, but when called upon to defend under any kind of pressure, he is simply not up to the task.

Defender Oguchi Onyewu - 4.5: Having to cover the outside too often and getting no help from the midfield, he was pulled out of position and spent a lot of time running around to no real effect.

Defender - Carlos Bocanegra - 4.5: He was nor more effective than Onyewu, chasing around much of the time without reason.

Midfielder Pablo Mastroeni - 3.5: As the defensive midfielder, he was completely ineffectual in offering defensive help or making stops himself. At time, he looked confused. This is not what you need from a veteran.

Midfielder Michael Bradley - 3.5: If his main role was to link defense with offense, he was completely outplayed. Now he will miss Saturday's match with Honduras with a yellow-cards suspension.

Midfielder Landon Donovan - 4.5: At times, he tried hard, but received little help. But then, as is too often his pattern, he allowed the defense to push him wide and would not let him into the middle, causing him to disappear for long stretches.

Midfielder Josť Francisco Torres - 5: Oddly, he was the first player replaced as he was perhaps the best American player in the first half. His defensive effort was lacking, but he was the only U.S. midfielder who seemed at all comfortable on the ball.

Forward Clint Dempsey - 4: Had almost no impact on the match.

Forward Jozy Altidore - 5: Certainly worked hard, but with no service to speak of coming out of the midfield, he was forced into a role of digging for himself for which he is little suited.

Reserves

Midfielder Sacha Kljestan (46th minute for Torres) - 4.5: Had something of a positive effect trying to push the match into the Costan Rican end, but overall not a strong half.

Midfielder Freddy Adu (63rd minute for Beasley) - 4.5: He certainly added something to the U.S. attack, but it was too little, too late after the third Ticos goal sealed the match in the 69th minute.

Forward Charlie Davies (80th minute for Dempsey) - 5: Over the last 10 minutes, he gave the U.S. some spark, enough to wonder how he would have done over 90 minutes.

SoccerTimes U.S. Player of the Match: Josť Francisco Torres.


Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.

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