THE DAY REPLAYED – Jurgen Klinsmann’s USA continue to suffer in CONCACAF’s final round of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia. A 4-0 loss to Costa Rica sees the States lose their first two games in the Hexagonal for the first time in 30 years. On the other side of the spectrum, Panama are basking in the sunshine. Their goalless draw against super-powers Mexico puts them on four points and riding high. Honduras, for their part, rebounded from a terrible opening day with an impressive win against Trinidad & Tobago, who are adrift with no points to show.
FIFA.com looks back at all the action from a thrilling Tuesday night in CONCACAF.
Match of the day
Costa Rica 4-0 USA
Johan Venegas (CRC) 43, Christian Bolanos (CRC) 69. Joel Campbell (74 & 77)
USA’s wretched start to the Hexagonal continued with another in a long line of losses on Costa Rican soil. Aside from bringing in Brad Guzan for injured No1 Tim Howard, Klinsmann made no changes to the starting XI that failed to impress in last week’s home loss to Mexico. Costa Rica, pragmatic and technically astute, took full advantage. The busy Johan Venegas, one of the best players on the pitch, flicked home a header on the stroke of half-time against an American side that failed to create much of consequence in the first-half. And the US didn’t rally in the second, either. Christian Bolanos scored with another header in the 69th minute to send the home fans into hysterics before Joel Campbell, in off the bench, added two more to put the Ticos alone at the top of the six-team group.
Honduras bounced back from a horrid start to their Hexagonal with a convincing 3-1 win over Trinidad & Tobago in their second straight home game. It's the second loss for the Soca Warriors, who had to replace starting keeper Jan-Michael Williams early after a sickening collision. The Hondurans weren’t in the mood to show any sympathy. Romell Quioto scored the opening goal after some incredible approach work by Oscar Boniek Garcia, the move showing just how much the Catrachos have improved since losing their opener to Panama five days ago. Emilio Izaquirre and Eddie Hernandez rounded off the scoring with Carlyle Mitchell pulling one back for the islanders, who now sit at the foot of the six-team group alongside USA with no points.
Panama’s historic start to the Hex continued as they capped off their win in Honduras last week with a 0-0 draw at home against high-flying Mexico, a side oozing with attacking panache. Juan Carlos Osorio’s El Tri have only been kept off the scoresheet one time previously in this qualifying campaign, underscoring just how tight Hernan Dario Gomez’s rearguard is at the moment.
9 – The number of times USA have lost in Costa Rica in World Cup qualifying. The Americans nabbed their only ever point in San Jose in a 1-1 draw all the way back in 1985, when 51-year-old current Costa Rica boss Oscar El Macho Ramirez got himself on the scoresheet.
Player of the day
Oscar Boniek Garcia (HON)
Sometimes it only takes one player to change a whole team. Oscar Boniek Garcia, left out of the Honduras starting line-up last week, brought dynamism and spark to the Catrachos in their win over Trinidad & Tobago. The USA-based midfielder, most comfortable out wide, was in sizzling form and had a hand in all of Honduras’ three goals. His most impressive set-up work came when he carved out the opener with a spinning no-look pass to make space before sending a killer ball to scorer Romell Quioto. The Estadio Olimpico in San Pedro Sula was rocking once again on Tuesday, and much of that was down to the orchestrations of Garcia, who’s unlikely to be left on the bench again.
Did you know?
Their second loss on the trot leaves the Americans on zero points from their first two games, having conceded six goals and scoring only one. It’s their worst start to the final round of qualifying since the preliminaries for Mexico 1986, which is – alarmingly – the last time they failed to qualify for the World Cup. Their lack of fight in the last 20 minutes in San Jose will have all US soccer fans wondering about their team’s future.
What they said
“This is a very, very bitter moment for us. We didn’t imagine we’d have two losses right at the beginning of the Hex. We knew it would be hard, with two tough games at the beginning, but we expected to have some points. Now we need to reflect about what happened over the last ten days,” USA coach Klinsmann on his team’s big loss in Costa Rica.
Results (Round 5, Matchday 2)
15 November 2016
Costa Rica 4-0 USA
Panama 0-0 Mexico
Honduras 3-1 Trinidad & Tobago
Up next (Round 5, Matchday 3)
24 March 2017
Trinidad & Tobago-Panama