USMNT dominate Costa Rica, keep Copa hopes alive


by Deny Gallagher

What a difference a few days makes.

After a disappointing start to the tournament, the United States annihilated Costa Rica 4-0 at Chicago’s Solider Field.

Clint Dempsey scored the first goal of the night from the penalty spot to join the U.S. Soccer 50 goal club. From there, Jermaine Jones, Bobby Wood, and Graham Zusi put the exclamation mark on the match with a goal each.

Just five minutes in, the Costa Rican pressure nearly found the opening goal courtesy of a Joel Campbell volley. The near disaster started thanks to a DeAndre Yedlin botched clearance that went to the center of the park.

Moments later, Bobby Wood was pushed in the back and fell to ground, earning the U.S. a penalty kick. After all the talk following the last game about how Clint Dempsey should be benched, the Sounders star stepped up to the spot and silenced the doubters, putting the Americans up 1-0 in the 9th minute and renewing faith in the tournament.

As the game progressed, it became clear that the U.S. had developed better chemistry since last Friday’s disaster. This was evident in the difference in the side’s spacing, movement, and link up play in the first half. This chemistry, especially on the flanks, allowed for both Fabian Johnson and DeAndre Yedlin to get forward for the Stars and Stripes.

The good vibes kept on coming as Jermaine Jones scored his first goal in nearly two years in the 37th minute. The midfielder received a ball from Dempsey on the left flank. Jones, who calls the Windy City home, cut toward the top of the box, squared a Dempsey feed and seemingly willed the ball into the far net to make it 2-0.

Six minutes later, Bobby Wood wanted in on the action. With his back to goal, the Hawaiian received the ball at the top of the penalty area, used his strength to turn toward goal, and beat the keeper with a low, hard roller just inside the left post to make it 3-0.

The U.S. went into the half up three goals — their largest advantage since the Cuba match in last year’s Gold Cup.

To start the second half, Jurgen Klinsmann deployed his side in a 4-4-2. While the U.S. looked good, Costa Rica got the better of the game for parts of the second half.

In the 74th minute, the Stars and Stripes had an opportunity to grab a fourth goal when Alejandro Bedoya played a curving ball just ahead of an on-running Gyasi Zardes. However, the Costa Rican defender got to it first, and deflected it out for a corner. The Americans failed to capitalize on the opportunity, and it remained 3-0 with 15 minutes to play.

In the 87th minute, the United States got that fourth goal of the evening to temporarily move them to the top of Group A on goal differential. Second half sub Graham Zusi stripped his marker off of a goal kick, created space and converted his opportunity with ease.

After three minute of stoppage, the result became official and the U.S. moved to the top of the Group A –for the time being. Colombia plays Paraguay in the late match of Group A.

The Americans now look to round out group play on Saturday with a result against Paraguay.