U.S. routed by Costa Rica

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Ron­ald Blum

SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA » The United States put it­self in a deep hole in World Cup qual­i­fy­ing with one of its worst per­for­mances in decades.

Tak­ing ad­van­tage of de­fen­sive mis­takes, Costa Rica routed the U.S. 4-0 Tues­day night to drop the Amer­i­cans to 0-2 for the first time in the fi­nal round of the North and Cen­tral Amer­i­can and Caribbean re­gion.

Jo­han Vene­gas scored in the 43rd minute, Cris­tian Bolanos dou­bled the lead in the 69th and sec­ond­half sub­sti­tute Joel Camp­bell beat be­leagured goal­keeper Brad Guzan in the 74th and 77th min­utes in the worst mar­gin of de­feat for the U.S. in a qual­i­fier since a 5-1 de­feat at Mex­ico in Novem­ber 1980.

It was the big­gest los­ing shutout mar­gin in a qual­i­fier since the U.S. fell 6-0 at Mex­ico in 1957.

Com­bined with Fri­day’s 2-1 loss to Mex­ico at Colum­bus, Ohio, the U.S. finds it­self in a quick deficit in the hexag­o­nal, which re­sumes in March.

Ti­cos fans sounded air horns at the end of a match that reignated ques­tion­ing of coach Jur­gen Klins­mann’s tac­tics. The U.S. dropped to 0-9-1 in qual­i­fiers at Costa Rica.

The Amer­i­cans, who had had not lost a home qual­i­fier in 15 years be­fore last week, fig­ure they will win their four re­main­ing home games and pick up points on the road.

The top three teams qual­ify for the 2018 tour­na­ment in Rus­sia, and the No. 4 fin­isher ad­vances to a play­off against Asia’s fifth­place na­tion.

Cen­tral de­fend­ers John Brooks and Omar Gon­za­lez, and right back Timmy Chan­dler had par­tic­u­larly poor games. Brooks and Omar Gon­za­lez started in the cen­ter of the back line. Ge­off Cameron, who usu­ally starts along­side Brooks, missed both qual­i­fiers this month af­ter hy­per­ex­tend­ing a knee dur­ing Stoke’s Premier League match against Hull on Oct. 22.

Costa Rica, which won its opener 2-0 at Trinidad and Tobago, went ahead af­ter a Brooks give­away. Ran­dall Azofeifa took a short pass from Jose Sal­vatierra in the cen­ter cir­cle and played a long ball into the cor­ner, where Cris­tian Bolanos ran it down on its third bounce. Gon­za­lez was slow to close on Bolanos, who crossed for Vene­gas just out­side the 6-yard box. Bolanos beat Brooks to the ball and sent a header across Guzan for his sev­enth goal in 30 in­ter­na­tional ap­pear­ances.

Bolanos scored af­ter a turnover by 18-year-old mid­fielder Chris­tian Pulisic near mid­field. Sal­vatierra sent a pass down the flank to Ve­na­gas, and his cross found Bolanos in front, with Chan­dler a step late.

Ron­ald Matar­rita cre­ated the fi­nal two goals by Camp­bell. On the last goal, Camp­bell took the ball over Brooks’ right foot as the Amer­i­can de­fender stabbed to make a play to no avail. He was a step be­hind all night on the slick, chun­ked-up turf.

There was some whistling dur­ing “The Star-Span­gled Ban­ner” from the ca­pac­ity crowd of about 35,000 in Es­ta­dio Na­cional, where the field is sur­rounded by an ath­let­ics track and crowd noise dis­si­pates — even from a band in the sec­ond deck. The venue ap­pears less in­tim­i­dat­ing to vis­i­tors than old Es­ta­dio Ri­cardo Saprissa, where fans were di­rectly be­hind the benches.

Right back Timmy Chan­dler and mid­fielder Jer­maine Jones are sus­pended for the next qual­i­fier, at home on March 24 against Hon­duras, be­cause of yel­low-card ac­cu­mu­la­tion. Both were cau­tioned by Mex­i­can ref­eree for fouls against Costa Rica cap­tain Bryan Ruiz, Chan­dler in the 11th minute and Jones in the 37th.

MOISES CASTILLO — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

United States goal­keeper Brad Guzan picks the ball out of the net af­ter Joel Camp­bell scored Costa Rica’s fourth goal in Tues­day’s World Cup qual­i­fy­ing match.

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