by G.D. Morrill
Facing elimination from the host’s own tournament, the USA was up to the severity of the occasion and emerged triumphant today against little Costa Rica. Since 1975 our record v Costa Rica is 14-14-with 5 draws. In other words, they have always played us tough. They almost always beat us on CR territory. So, in order to not be eliminated, the USA HAD to beat CR today. And they did!
Yes, CR is a little country. Like Uruguay, Paraguay, Haiti, Jamaica, and Bolivia, but CR dominated the first seven or eight minutes against the largest country in the tournament, and it was looking bleak for the home team, however a push by a defender while the US was in the CR penalty area against USA forward, Bobby Wood produced a penalty kick, taken by Clint Dempsey to put us ahead 1-0 quickly.
We began to dominate and in the 37 minute, Jermaine Jones made a fabulous kick to the goalie’s right, shooting the ball outside the left goal post and curving it just inside the post. Impossible for the goalie to stop. In the 43rd minute, Bobby Wood received the ball at the top of the penalty area, turned on a dime and put the ball to the goalie’s right with a wonderful goal.
CR was defeated, but they apparently didn’t get the memo and continued to press forward, while the USA was content to play defense. At the 65 minute, Jurgen Klinsmann, coach of the US team, inserted Graham Zusi in mid field, and in 84th minute he received a pass from Clint Dempsey, our most prolific scorer and scored.
Dodging that bullet, the US now must face Paraguay, which plays Colombia in tonight’s later game in the Rose Bowl. Assuming that Paraguay loses, the USA can clinch a spot in the quarter finals with a win or tie against them, once more avoiding the ignominy of being eliminated as hosts of the tournament. That would have been an embarrassment from which we may have never recovered!
It appears that Klinsmann may have finally settled upon a fairly set lineup with the same subs in the second half. He seems to replace Woods and Dempsey at forward with Graham Zusi, and today with Wondolowski, a forward, and Kyle Beckerman a mid fielder. Brad Guzan seems to have beaten out World Cup goalie, Tim Howard as a starter. He doesn’t change the back line, which has been a consistent problem until now. Brooks, Yedlin, Cameron, and Fabian Johnson, make up the back line. It appears that they are finally jelling.
Next up Paraguay, and advancement. Let’s hope we don’t let down, and continue to improve. In a sense the tournament doesn’t mean all that much as does figuring out what combinations of players will play important roles for the upcoming World Cup eliminations later this summer and fall. Winning or getting to the final game would be excellent and would elevate our worldwide status, so I’m certainly not diminishing the importance of the tournament. It’s important, but the ultimate goal is the World Cup in Russia, in 2018 and which will be the players who stand out. Watch and see what you think.