Thursday, October 15, 2009

ATH: US v Costa Rica

WCQ: Costa Rica 2 - USA 2

The United States stunned Costa Rica on Wednesday night at RFK Stadium, coming back from two goals down to draw 2-2 in stoppage time. The result means the United States finishes first in the Hexagonal while Costa Rica will need to get past Uruguay in a two-game playoff.

"On behalf of US Soccer and our team, we want to thank the fans and all the support," US captian Calros Bocanegra said. "It's been 18 months... a long long long process for us.... Thank you for your support, you make us proud."

With Costa Rica forward Bryan Ruiz seeing too much space around the box, the United States gave up two goals in three minutes. Ruiz hit in the 21st and again in the 24th, beating Tim Howard with a strong shot that hit the upper ninety. It would take a sustained attack from the United States on both sides of the half to get those goals back.

For much of the game, the United States simply wasn't doing enough with their chances. The entry passes were there, but the forwards were either caught wrong-footed or couldn't get enough on the shot. A barrage of opportunities late in the first-half became more about the inability of the US to put the ball in the back of the net than it did Costa Rica's defense.

Starting as close to first choice as was available, US coach Bob Bradley did as promised and treated the final day of Qualifying as important as any other. The United States National Team needed yet another look on the last day of Qualifying. Adjusting to the absence of Clint Dempsey and Charlie Davies, the US regrouped around Benny Feilhaber and Stuart Holden with Jozy Altidore getting the start alongside Conor Casey.

For the most part, the passes and attacking moves were there. At times unlucky, the US ended up with multiple shots off target, over the bar, or directly at the keeper. Trailing 2-0 at the half, the US led 9-4 in shots taken and 4-2 on corners.

US coach Bob Bradley adjusted his midfield after the hour mark, bringing on Jose Francisco Torres for Feilhaber in the 63rd and Robbie Rogers for Holden in the 69th.

The United States finally got on the board in the 72nd-minute, when Michael Bradley cleaned up a Landon Donovan shot that rebounded to him right in front of the Costa Rica goal. Moments later, Rogers almost had the equalizer.

With Bradley subbing in Kenny Cooper for Conor Casey, the US continued to press and Costa Rica continued to defend in numbers. With no substitutes left, the US went a man down when an obviously injured Oguchi Onyewu was unable to continue. Onyewu landed awkwardly on his right knee and had to be stretchered off.

As Costa Rica attempted to waste the five minutes of stoppage time, the ten-man USA continued to press. Landon Donovan lined up a corner and found Jonathan Bornstein, who headed in the stoppage time equalizer. It would be Donovan carrying a flag with Charlie Davies's name and number as the United States took a lap of honor after a successful World Cup Qualifying campaign.

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