The United States clearly know how to be entertaining. The United States dominated possession but fell behind after getting stretched by the quick passing of Costa Rica. In the 21st minute, Bryan Ruiz was able to turn on Onyewu got into the box and was able to slip the ball past Tim Howard. Three minutes later quick interplay released Ruiz again who got a fres shot on Howard and beat him with a laser shot. The United States continued to create chances but due to poor finishing they were unable to score before halftime.
In the second half, Costa Rica tightened up and made it hard for the United States to score. Robbie Rogers came on for a struggling Stuart Holden and immediately his service caused problems. In the 72nd minute, his cross found Landon Donovan whose shot was stopped but Michael Bradley put in the rebound. The United States continued to press despite losing Onyewu to an injury after using all 3 subs and playing with 10 men. There were five minutes of injury time mainly due to Costa Rica’s coach arguing with the fourth referee about a substitution. Costa Rica could not hold out as Jonathan Bornstein scored on a free header off of a corner kick tying the game. Here are the some of my other observations.
- United States has shown the ability to fight back, but they are in that position far too often. I do not want to read into the performance too much given the heavy weight of the Davies’ tragedy but this game did show a somewhat disturbing trend. The United States has fallen behind in 3 of its last 4 games and they were quite fortunate not to fall behind Trinidad & Tobago in the other game. It seems this team almost needs to be woken up most games and is perhaps a sign of the team’s youth but it is a big problem that needs to be addressed as they will not be as lucky at the world cup.
- Jose Francisco Torres should get more looks. Benny Feilhaber had a poor performance but Torres was very very impressive. He orchestrated the offense and actually showed good defensive energy which had been his criticism. In the last 15 minutes of the game Torres and Bradley absolutely dominated the game and Torres’ ability allowed Bradley to push up into the attack.
- Spector is clearly the first choice right back. Steve Cherundolo got a start and although did settle later, he did not offer the same defensive ability that Jonathan Spector did. I thought that Cherundolo was a good match-up against speedy players but I think that Spector has a slightly better positional sense and seems to be better at limiting the threats from the wing.
- The strikers need to finish. Although Jonathan Bornstein saved their blushes of losing, the strikers both Casey and Altidore struggled to finish the easy chances they were provided. Even Landon Donovan was guilty of poor finishing. Without Davies, it will become imperative that someone else come on and become a more solid finisher with Jozy Altidore the leading candidate.
- The United States need a winger to step up by next June. The insertion of Robbie Rogers paid immediate dividends. Stuart Holden insertion for Dempsey seems to give the team better shape and that is why the rise of a winger is key. Stuart Holden is not a true winger but he does have better winger instincts than Dempsey. Robbie Rogers seems to have the most potential to develop but I think that Demarcus Beasley has a very good chance of making his way back onto the team. Another darkhorse for that position is Jeremiah White who plays in Denmark for AGF Aarhus.