Which player scored the most impressive goal over the weekend?
Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen)
Haji Wright (SonderjyskE)
Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund)
Tyler Boyd (Besiktas)
Julian Green (Greuther Furth)
Nicholas Gioacchini (Caen)
EDGAR ZUNIGA - Saturday, September 3, 2011
United States vs Costa Rica
Friendly - Friday September 2, 2011
Home Depot Center
The US national team suffered its first loss under head coach Jurgen Klinsmann after a disappointing effort against Costa Rica on Friday night at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.

Despite clearly dominating the flow of play throughout most of the game, the US was unable to generate a shot on goal until midway through the second half. Costa Rica did just enough to escape with the 1-0 victory, in spite of numerous great opportunities and build-ups by the US that yielded nothing but exasperated gasps from the crowd and clenched teeth from US players.

"Obviously, bad result, you never like to lose a game, but a very good performance," said Jurgen Klinsmann with an uneasy smile. "The first 30 minutes was top, then we had a down period 10 minutes before half time. The players are beginning to learn that if you want to maintain a very high tempo through 90 minutes, it's difficult."

With the pressure of his US coaching debut against archrival Mexico in the books, Klinsmann sent out a similar squad against an always tough Costa Rican squad. The US came out attacking, displaying marked cohesiveness, and it showed in the way they connected, dominating Costa Rica thoroughly in the first half hour.

The best opportunity came in the 6th minute, when Landon Donovan blasted a shot just right of the goal as he blazed into the box after a great series of passes between Brek Shea, Jozy Altidore, and Donovan.

Donovan missed another opportunity to put the US up in the 22nd when his free kick from just beyond the top of the box whizzed past the top left corner of Keylor Navas' goal.

Shea looked sharp early on while trying to hook up with Altidore. Although he was able to create some space for himself with a few nifty moves, Shea was shadowed on almost every play and never really got going like he would have wanted to.

"I think I did some things good and some things bad," Shea said. "I think it's more about still getting used to playing with the guys. [Klinsmann] wants us to play with confidence and have fun-play soccer, move the ball, not just kick the ball and run around. When I'm in the attacking third, I feel I have complete freedom."

Although the US continued to pile on pressure, as halftime drew nearer, the team began to show signs of weariness and Costa Rica began to go on forays into the US half.

In the 45th minute, Altidore sent a through-ball to Donovan, who sprinted from midfield toward the Costa Rican net. However, instead of pushing toward the goal, Donovan opted to pass back to Altidore, who was covered.

Nevertheless, it was Costa Rica who registered the first two shots on goal, in injury time. With the US attack slowing to a sputter, Costa Rica begun to get more involved on the counterattack and found themselves in their attacking third, almost scoring on two dangerous shots on goal.

It took a full outstretched Tim Howard to knock Alvaro Sanchez' blistering shot over the top of the crossbar right before the end of the half.

While the final 10 minutes of the half were difficult for the US, Klinsmann saw this as a learning experience for his players.

"I want them to go through those down periods," he said. "We saw players getting tired-they were struggling. But, they need to learn to go through those minutes. They need to fight their way through it. If you keep that tempo up, sooner or later, you will put away those chances.

"We worked hard at that during the week. Throughout the games, they will have these moments where they can't keep it anymore. They don't have that in their systems yet. That will be a process we will have to go through, long term," he added.

As has been customary of recent US matches, the second half was an altogether different story. While the US still maintained some hegemony at midfield, Costa Rica begun to go on deeper runs and spent more time with the ball.

With the mostly pro-American crowd of 15,798 pushing them on, the US tried to get things going up top again, but it was Costa Rica who threatened, letting loose with another shot on Howard's goal in the 59th.

Still recovering from a hamstring injury, Klinsmann limited Altidore to 63 minutes, subbing in Juan Agudelo.

Despite the injection of energy to the front line, the inevitable happened in the 65th minute and Costa Rica finally scored, catching the US defense flat-footed on a counterattack.

Alvaro Saborio rushed toward Howard's goal from the right side and sent a through-ball to Michael Barrantes, who fired a shot toward the net. Howard made an outstanding save, falling back in the process. The loose ball found a wide-open Rodney Wallace, who headed the shot toward the goal, where it was deflected but still found the ceiling of the net.

From that moment on, the US turned up the pressure, working hard to crack the Costa Rican bunker that materialized at the other end of the field.

"It's difficult when a team like Costa Rica goes one goal up because they lock it down and put 9 men around the box," Klinsmann admitted.

There was a visible sense of urgency from the US, but, it wasn't until the 71st minute that the US finally got a clear shot on goal, albeit a long-range shot by Jose Torres that was stopped by a diving Navas.

As the game neared the end, tempers flared. Despite both teams having made a pledge to honor FIFA's Fair Play initiative, there were fouls aplenty, with the Ticos racking up 27 fouls to the USA's 12. Referee Jose Molina handed out a total of six yellow cards, three to each team, in what was at times a scrappy affair.

In the end, the Ticos were able to stymie the US attack and exited the field with their heads held high, leaving behind a bemused US squad and coach. The Ticos, being the more aggressive of the two, did whatever they could to disrupt the USA's flow of play and it worked.

Klinsmann felt this is something the US needs to work on, especially in close games.

"You gotta be more determined, greedy for that goal. Maybe it'll take more nastiness," said Klinsmann laughing. "Costa Rica did that very well; on the one-on-one battles, they were nasty. They tried to interrupt our rhythm. We need to be more hungry in those moments and finish off our chances."

The players, echoed Klinsmann's feelings about the game, bemoaning the loss, but pointing out the positives.

"I think we did well," Edu said. "The first half we played well. The final ball was off just a bit. If we play against Belgium the same way we played in the first half, we'll have them on their toes."

Meanwhile, Agudelo took a moment to peer into the not so distant future regarding the direction of the team under the new coach.

"I think that once we get used to [Klinsmann's] style, we'll be a really good team," he said. "He brings a style that looks to accommodate the players."

Although a smiling Klinsmann reminded the press corps that this is all still a work in progress, it wasn't enough to mask his disappointment in the result. While on the surface, the team is responding well to his coaching style, it is quite apparent that success won't come easy.

However, if all goes according to Klinsmann's plans, the US will emerge from this period of uncertainty stronger than ever, or at the very least be able to field a team of long-distance runners.
Monday September 5, 2011 9:55 pm
Looked like a Bob Bradley team in the second half. Given the possession, they really should have scored three or four goals. I suppose efficiency will have to take a back seat to style for awhile, but I couldn't help wondering whether we'll see the most entertaining USMNT sitting in a bar in NY watching the next World Cup.

I like watching Torres, but if given a choice between winning, or losing with style, I'll take Michael Bradley and winning every time. I better see something better against Belgium, or I might just begin to believe that we turned our entire soccer program over to a crazy German Buddhist.
Sunday September 4, 2011 12:59 pm
It was a hybrid 4-3-3, not a true 4-3-3. It was a 4-1-3-1-1. Donaovan needed to support Jozy more as a number 10. He was dropping too far back causing Jozy to fill the space an play with his back to goal (which he did very well). Also Donovan needs to get into the box, there were at least 2 occasions were Jozy made near post runs drawing both center backs leaving the far post wide open, neither Rodgers or Donovan filled that space and they should of made them selves available for Shea on the far post/
G. Smith
Sunday September 4, 2011 7:16 am
It was good to see the attacking style that Klinsmann is implementing, but chemistry and fluidness leaves a lot to be desired. There was marked improvement compared to the Mexico game. I hope to see a few more up and comers get a shot in these friendliest, like Mikel Diskerud, Bobby Wood, Josh Gatt, and Alejandro Bedoya. I do not envy JK's player dilemma there is a lot of young talent that can take on defenders with confidence the question is are they able to take it to the international level and force some of our veterans to battle. There would be a huge backlash by impatient US fans if he rested Donavon and called in a player like Josh Gatt and there was a negative result to the game. I can not wait to see which players get called into the Olympic team.
ed c.
Sunday September 4, 2011 5:54 am
early days. if we're going to lose, lose now when it doesn't matter. i would like to see a win in brussels though but belgium is a pretty strong team - vermaelen, felliani, chadli, defour, simmons, etc.
Sunday September 4, 2011 2:52 am
Very nice start, but the team ran out of gas 10 min before the half time whistle.

The back 4 looked exposed. I think because the midfielders where so busy putting high pressure in the opponents defensive third that they could not get back in time to get decent numbers behind the ball.

Some how that didnt look like a 4-3-3. It looked more like a 4-5-1 at times.
Saturday September 3, 2011 10:45 pm
The 4-3-3 was good, give the players a chance to settle into their roles and get comfortable, please believe there will be much more shifting of players occurring before it's all said and done. Chandler is good but he hasn't played with these guys in months.. We'll be ok with this core group of guys. We'll pull up the top performers from the Olympic team and get them some reps as well so we might as well not pass judgment until many months from now when we have an idea of the complete picture.
Saturday September 3, 2011 4:07 pm
Couple of positives that can be taken from this match. First, the USMNT needed to take a look at Castillo at left back. He had his chance, and I think JK knows he needs to look elsewhere. Second, Brek Shea is a nice option down the wing. Hopefully he'll learn to start taking on defenders like he does for Dallas.

Not a great scoreline but hopefully Klinsmann and co are learning and making adjustments as they go.
J.D. Krug
Saturday September 3, 2011 3:41 pm
Edu getting a chance to impress
Torres as our "maestro"

Chandler - easily the worst U.S. player on the field
Too many newcomers introduced by Klinsmann at once
Losing to one of our biggest competitors for a 2014 W.C. place on home soil
No Bedoya, Adu, Lichaj or Cherundolo
(understand the absence of Dempsey and Bradley)

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