Holy sweet shit, we won a road game. Minnesota went on the road and beat a team that, while they have been struggling lately, have been much better than us for most of the season. And I missed the entire thing. Lucky for me, the simulation machine projected a one goal win and the tickets for my flight to the little town of Arviat were refundable. Although Tdikistan is still the backup plan in case things really do go to hell.
Anyway… The international break is on and the Loons chose not to play? Is that how MLS works? I have no idea. But they’re not playing so I’m here with the World Cup qualifier between the United States and Costa Rica. It seems like the USMNT is always playing themselves into must-win games and this is apparently another one despite sitting in a qualifying spot with four games to play. The defense will be questionable, as is custom, after John Brooks’ untimely death in Germany, but the attacking should be fine. Worst case scenario, Francisco Calvo scores a goal to sink the Yanks and we have to deal with mixed feelings for a while.
Costa Rica came to play and looked like a team three points ahead of their opponents in the standings. Los Ticos forced Tim Howard into two saves within the first 25 minutes and looked to be the better team. The tide shifted around the half hour mark with a series of near misses from Christian Pulisic and Jordan Morris. Their confidence renewed, the United States (yet another United…such an unoriginal name) started sending men forward as if there were communists looking for oil in the back of the net. Pulisic was played through the Costa Rica back line on the verge of halftime. Alone on goal, he lifted a shot over the leg of Patrick Pemberton, pretty much the “John Smith” of Costa Rican names, and gave the Outlaws a reason to cheer. The United States took a 1-0 lead into the halftime locker room.
This is where a picture would go if I wasn’t an idiot.
The new half began like the first had: Costa Rica was determined to make this a game and kept pressure on the United States for the first 15 minutes of the half. Unfortunately for the visitors, a quick counterattack from the Stars and Stripes would double the lead in the 64th minute. Chris Wondolowski crossed the ball to Morris on the near post. Morris got a lucky toe on the ball which was just enough to send it past the keeper.
Another picture would have been good. Use your imagination.
Ten minutes after the goal, the US opened the door to a Costa Rica comeback. Matt Besler was shown straight red for what was clearly just a good old fashioned American tackle. Down a man, the Yanks didn’t adapt quickly enough. Two Costa Ricans made it through the defense and after gathering a pass across the box, Marcos Urena smashed the ball into the half of the net Howard couldn’t cover.
It didn’t look that cool so a picture would have just taken up space.
It was too little, too late. With ten minutes left, the Americans bunkered down and never came close to conceding again. The AOs cued up the Springsteen and rode off into the New Jersey night, happy with a fairly solid win.