U.S. fails to bounce back from Mexico loss, lays egg in defeat to Costa Rica
HARRISON, N.J. -- Three quick thoughts after the U.S. lost 1-0 to Costa Rica in a friendly at Red Bull Arena on Tuesday night.
1. Not the response the U.S. was looking for
On Monday, U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann said he wanted to see his team show its character and react positively to Saturday's crushing 3-2 CONCACAF Cup loss to archrival Mexico. "We want to see them come in here [with their] heads up and give a response, the guys that played already on Saturday night and also the guys that were on the bench."
But for the second time in less than three months, the U.S. has responded to a bitter defeat by laying an egg. As in the squad's penalty-kick loss to Panama in the third-place game of the Gold Cup, the U.S. looked disjointed and flat.
The team created next to nothing going forward; their best chance of the game came on a first-half header by defender Tim Ream off a Break Shea free kick. The Americans would have been down at halftime had Brad Evans not cleared a sure goal off the line just before the break, and only some poor finishing by Costa Rica kept the match level until the 70th minute, when Joel Campbell finally put the visitors in front.
The result is the national team's first three-game home losing streak since 1997 (the Yanks lost to Brazil in Foxborough, Massachusetts, last month). It's safe to say this is not the response the coach was looking for.
2. Pressure is mounting on Klinsmann ...
And not only because of this latest loss. Earlier in the day on Tuesday, German Bundesliga club Borussia Monchengladbach announced that U.S. defender Fabian Johnson, whom Klinsmann sent home on Monday for pulling himself out in extra time of last week's CONCACAF Cup loss to Mexico despite not being injured, was being treated for a hamstring injury.
Klinsmann said Monday that Johnson told the U.S. bench that while his hamstring was tight, he wasn't actually hurt and just wanted to come off as a precaution. A team spokesman said Johnson was checked by the team's medical staff, who determined the aliment wasn't serious. We haven't heard Johnson's side of the story yet; ESPN FC colleague Jeff Carlisle's attempts to reach the German-American have been unsuccessful so far.
But on the heels of the worst loss of his four-year tenure, this is a controversy Klinsmann doesn't need, and because there was no need to go public with the story -- Klinsmann volunteered the information during his pregame news conference -- it's one entirely of his own making.
3. Missed opportunity for some bubble players
With nine regulars sent back to their clubs after the Mexico match, Tuesday's encounter was a chance for several of the national team's fringe members to make an impression on the coach. Klinsmann started Evans, Ream, Shea, Danny Williams and Michael Orozco; and brought Ventura Alvarado, Mix Diskerud, Lee Nguyen, Jonathan Spector, Andrew Wooten and Bobby Wood on in the second half.
While Williams was the only player who really struggled, none of the others save Evans and Ream really helped themselves. Even senior team mainstays DeAndre Yedlin and Gyasi Zardes, two of the program's most promising youngsters, failed to assert themselves in this match against this regional foe. With World Cup qualifying slated to begin next month, the U.S. team's apparent lack of depth has to be considered a worrying sign.
Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @DougMacESPN.