Result Poor but Maths Still Good for Klinsmann

Costa Rica have plenty to celebrate at the moment

Costa Rica have plenty to celebrate at the moment

Nobody watching an excellent Costa Rica side dismantle the USA last night will be deluding themselves this morning.

The Ticos were excellent from the get-go with superb ball movement, better pace, less errors and a far better tactical nous. They are the best side in the group and that makes the match in San Juan the United States’ toughest fixture of the Hexagonal. It was the one most likely to be lost and we would have all known that when the schedule came out, had we also known just how woefully Mexico were sinking.

It took just 118 seconds for the home side to expose American frailty on at their right back position and 1-0 could have easily been three with better finishing before it became 2-0 nine minutes later.

It ends an unbeaten streak and removes any traces of overconfidence, nay arrogance, that had crept into US Soccer as we congratulated ourselves on no other league wanting Clint Dempsey as much as we wanted to bring him back. Now the peaceful little coastal nation, the nation without a standing army, has brought us back to reality. Perhaps we should even thank them. We will one day. It just doesn’t seem like it now.

The reason one can be so sanguine is that the United States will still be going to Brazil.

They have group minnows Jamaica at home to come. The slate of fixtures still to come also works in their favour, so much so that a draw against a despondent Mexico will guarantee Jurgen Klinsmann’s men at least a play-off against New Zealand.

Country MP W L D GF GA GD Pts.
Costa Rica 7 4 1 2 9 4 +5 14
USA 7 4 2 1 9 6 +3 13
Honduras 7 3 3 1 8 8 0 10
Mexico 7 1 1 5 4 4 0 8
Panama 7 1 2 4 5 7 -2 7
Jamaica 7 0 4 3 2 8 -6 3

That would take the USA to 14 points leaving Mexico on 9. Mexico could still make 15 by winning their last two games but one is with Panama on the 11th of October. Should they win that, Panama’s maximum points total is 13, one less than the USA.

In reality, a jubilant Honduras host Panama on Wednesday in Tegucicalpa and that leaves the Americans just needing one point from anywhere to qualify for the top four with that Jamaica match to come.

One could even make the case that two competitive fixtures with the Kiwis gives the US additional preparation that friendlies against other sides cannot. Probably best not to make it to those itching to start planning the logistics at US Soccer though.

Last night was undoubtedly a bad day at the office. But the Americans have earned that with some decent results. In the end, more good may have come from a healthy does of realism than the long term impact of the result.


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