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U.S. loses in Costa Rica

The US suffered its sixth-straight loss in Costa Rica 3-1 on Wednesday night in a game that was not as close as the score indicated!

With goals 82 seconds into the match and then in the 13th minute, this was a relatively easy World Cup qualifying victory for Costa Rica. It was the worst qualifying result for the USA since their 3-0 defeat at Costa Rica on Oct. 8. 2005. With the loss the U.S. (2-1-1, seven points) dropped into second place in the CONCACAF hexagonal behind the Ticos (3-1-1, 10). The USA will face what is now close to a must-win situation against Honduras in Chicago on Saturday.

“We consider us probably the fastest, strongest team in the region, but today we got out-passed, outplayed and out-competed in every sense,” American goalkeeper Tim Howard said. “We were below average across the board.”

The Ticos shredded the U.s. defense on the artificial turf of Saprissa Stadium.

“It’s disappointing to play that way,” Donovan said. “We were never in control because of the way we started the game, and that makes it difficult.”

It was a tough start to a difficult three-match stretch of qualifying for the No. 14 Americans, who dropped to 0-7-1 in qualifying at Costa Rica, including 0-7 at San Jose, where they’ve been outscored 16-5. Donovan’s goal was the first for the Americans in Costa Rica since Earnie Stewart’s in 2000.

“We were under pressure from the start and we didn’t control the game. They took advantage,” U.S. coach Bob Bradley said. “I just don’t think we were good enough.”

The Americans now come home to Chicago, where on Saturday they’ll host Honduras, the last team to beat them in a qualifier on U.S. soil. The United States is 15-0-1 at home since the 3-2 defeat at Washington’s RFK Stadium in September 2001. Then, on Aug. 12, the Americans play at Mexico, where they are 0-22-1.

“We need to learn from tonight, but the most important thing is getting over it as quickly as possible, and taking what you can from it,” Donovan said. “We have three days physically and mentally for Honduras, who is a very good team that has been rested and preparing for this game.”

The U.S. will be missing midfielder Michael Bradley on Saturday after he picked up a yellow card in the 54th minute, earning a one-game suspension.

Still, the United States remains in good position to qualify for its sixth straight World Cup as long as it wins its remaining home matches, which include games against El Salvador (Sept. 5 at Sandy, Utah) and Costa Rica (Oct. 14 at Washington).

I said in my preview that I expected the U.S. to lose last night, what I did not expect was the poor performance. Most of the Costa Rica attack came down the U.S. left side where DaMarcus Beasley was out of his depth. There is no way that Bob Bradley can convince me that Beasley is the best American left-back. He needs to be replaced for Saturday’s must-win game against Honduras. Three points on Saturday and the disappointment of Wednesday night will be forgotten. Lose on Saturday and some alarm bells will be going off.