Before his debut match in charge of the US Men's National Soccer Team against Mexico, Jurgen Klinsmann had the names removed from the backs of the team's jerseys. The move was likely a reminder to all the players -- both the well-known stars like Landon Donovan and the neophytes like Brek Shea -- that they need to sublimate their egos and aspirations for the betterment of the team.
By any name (or none at all), though, some of the hallmark deficiencies of the side under Klinsmann's predecessor shined through. The US fell behind to Mexico as they have to so many opponents in the last few years. Of course, with just a handful of practices with their new coach, it is no wonder the team seemed unsure of itself in the early going.
After trailing, 1-0, at the intermission, the US showed far greater urgency and insight in attack in the second half. Donovan, in particular, came alive. Shea exploded from the bench and created the scoring chance that was finished by fellow substitute Robbie Rogers late in the game. With the score level, the US pushed for a winner. Considering their dim start, and the recent loss to Mexico in the Gold Cup Final, the draw was certainly a welcomed result among the USMNT and its fans at the Linc in Philadelphia.
Tonight, they'll be facing Costa Rica out on the on the left coast in the second game under Klinsmann. Stay right here for live updates throughout the match. To join in please send messages to @HuffPostSports on Twitter.
09/03/2011 3:35 AM EDT
RECAP: US 0 - Costa Rica 1
In the early stages of this international friendly between familiar CONCACAF foes, the United States was dominant early. Through 30 minutes they played with a forward-thrusting verve that had everyone who had advocated for Jurgen Klinsmann's hiring preparing their "I told ya so" speeches.
Shea and Altidore were marauding up and down the left sideline while Torres was making insightful and incisive passes from the center of the park. Possession seemed an end in and of itself and not just a means to something else. It looked to a paradigm-shifting performance. But Landon Donovan pushed the best chance to emerge from this prolonged spell of dominance just wide right of the net.
In the last 10 minutes of the half, Costa Rica settled down. They accomplished their settling down by slowing the game down and by knocking US players down. Perhaps they were being cynical but they were also being effective. In the final moments of the half, Costa Rica created a pair of scoring chances better than anything that the US had conjured since Donovan's miss.
When the teams returned for the second half, Costa Rica had a belief built from the ashes of all those smoldering US attacks. They were content to defend en masse and counterattack when they could. It was on the counter that Saborio found himself sprung from his defenders onto a ball that was carrying him toward the endline to the right of Howard's goal. Totally composed in the moment, Saborio let the defenders come toward him before slotting a slow but sure rolling ball back toward the penalty spot. The first of his teammates streaming into the box in support struck a wicked shot that Howard managed to block. The rebound dropped to Rodney Wallace who put it right back on net. Howard nearly pushed it over the crossbar but he couldn't get enough on the ball and it stretched the roof of the net from the inside.
Juan Agudelo spurred the US offense into a few equalizing chances late in the game but all came for naught. Once they held the lead, Costa Rica played with veteran savvy that belied the number of substitutions they were making. With close to 10 field players behind the ball in many US forays near the goal, they drained the clock and held on for the win.
Given the fact that this was a friendly, it's possible (but not easy) to focus on the positives for the US. That was certainly the tact that Klinsmann was taking after game. He tried to sound upbeat, consistently lauding the performance while expressing regret about the result.
For Costa Rica, the result surely builds confidence. On a night when they never really took control of the match, they were able to maintain belief and take advantage of one of the few chances that presented itself. Although the coaching situation has been in flux, beating the US in Los Angeles is no mean feat, especially considering how skillfully the Americans opened the match. While Klinsmann preaches his "great performance but poor result" philosophy, the Costa Ricans can talk about a "poor performance but great result."
Which side would you rather be on?
09/03/2011 1:23 AM EDT
Blame Castillo, Best In Show
|@ SoccerByIves : If the USMNT were playing at the Apollo Theatre, the Sandman would be snatching up Edgar Castillo right about now. #Next #LeftBackWanted|
09/03/2011 1:21 AM EDT
What is the RDA of Agudelo?
|@ ballinisahabit : We all need more Juan Aguedelo in our lives.|
09/03/2011 1:21 AM EDT
|@ afootballreport : Jose Torres is surely man of the match for the #USMNT tonight. Tireless out there. Edu, Brek Shea, Altidore, and Agudelo also bright spots.|
09/03/2011 1:20 AM EDT
What's his green card status?
|@ FisolaNYDN : One goal in two matches with the new boss. Forget about coaching, the U.S. could use Klinsmann as a striker|
09/03/2011 1:19 AM EDT
Nothing To Show For It
|@ ussoccer : #USMNT 0, CRC 1 - Final. USA had most of the ball in the last 30 minutes but nothing to show for it in the end. USA in action v. BEL on 9/6.|
09/03/2011 1:18 AM EDT
Full Time: Costa Rica WINS
Considering the first 35 minutes of the game, this was a shocking result for the US.
09/03/2011 1:17 AM EDT
It worked once
|@ GrantWahl : Kljestan was hoping the wall would jump over the ball like he did in the Olympics vs the Dutch, apparently.|
09/03/2011 1:16 AM EDT
Frantic Push At End
Torres and Agudelo trying to get a score but time is against them. Not to mention the 10 guys in white shirts defending all out.
09/03/2011 1:15 AM EDT
Straight Into The Wall
Kljestan puts it directly into the feet of the wall.
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