CARSON, CA - SEPTEMBER 02: Landon Donovan #10 of the United States takes a shot on goal against Costa Rica during the friendly soccer match at The Home Depot Center on September 2, 2011 in Carson, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

USA Vs. Costa Rica, 2011 International Friendly: Ticos Win 1-0 As USMNT Perform Poorly

When the U.S. faces Costa Rica on Friday, Jurgen Klinsmann will have the opportunity to show that his American team can at least easily handle weaker opponents, something the Americans were struggling with just a few months ago

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USA Vs. Costa Rica, 2011 International Friendly: Full Time, Ticos Win 1-0, USMNT Struggles

The United States' friendly match against Costa Rica on Friday night was a tale of two extremely different halves. In the first half, the USMNT was the demonstrably better side and though they struggled to create clear-cut goal scoring opportunities, controlled the match. In the second half, they performed very poorly and let Costa Rica back into the game, as Rodney Wallace scored on his debut to give the Ticos a 1-0 win. There were some positives for the USA to take out of the match, but based on their extremely disappointing second half, it's probably easier to pick out negatives.

The goal was created by Alvaro Saborio, who did well to beat the offside trap and get behind Michael Orozco Fiscal and Carlos Bocanegra. Once he got onto the ball, he put a cross into the box for Michael Barrientes, who forced Tim Howard into a fantastic save. However, there was nothing Howard could do about the rebound and the second chance, and Wallace scored easily to give Costa Rica a 65th minute winner.

Jose Fransisco Torres was almost certainly the man of the match for the USMNT, while Brek Shea, Maurice Edu, and Timothy Chandler all put in good performances. Landon Donovan had a bit of an odd match, as he played well in the first half and looked poor in the second. Robbie Rodgers and Edgar Castillo were almost certainly the players who had the toughest time for the USA, proving that they're probably not worthy of starting for the national team at this point in their careers.

The United States will now travel to Europe to take on Belgium, where Jurgen Klinsmann will probably utilize a slightly different starting XI.


USA Vs. Costa Rica, 2011 International Friendly: Halftime, Score Tied 0-0

It's been an encouraging first 45 minutes for the United States, but they've failed to turn their solid play into clear-cut goal scoring opportunities. They're tied 0-0 with Costa Rica after 45 minutes of play in their international friendly match, and that's not because Costa Rica are playing fantastic defensively. The Ticos have been surprisingly lackluster and have not put any pressure on the United States, and it's a bit surprising that they've been unable to create a high volume of chances.

The USMNT are playing a very fluid five-man midfield that has Maurice Edu as a deep-sitting defensive midfielder. The other four players have played various roles, with Landon Donovan and Jose Fransisco Torres both covering deep while also getting forward, while wingers Brek Shea and Robbie Rogers have switched sides.

Costa Rica's strategy, if it's intentional has been a very odd one. They are not putting pressure on the ball, allowing the United States' back line, Edu and Torres to have lots of time on the ball. At the same time, when they do make challenges, they're making sloppy fouls. Honestly, it's been a sloppy game in general with both teams committing silly fouls, getting caught offsides frequently and struggling to complete passes in the final third.

The fluid nature of the team and the amount of possession has been encouraging for the United States, as has the fluid nature of the midfield. However, Costa Rica is allowing them to play this way with a lack of pressure, and they look like they're going to have to make some changes if they want to find a goal.


USA Vs. Costa Rica, 2011 International Friendly: USMNT Starting Well, Donovan Misses Early Chance

The United States' lineup looks much more like a fluid 4-2-3-1 formation early on in their match against Costa Rica, despite what John Harkes wants you to think. Not that I like obsessing over number notation - I actually think it's quite pointless - but the color commentator on the ESPN broadcast is clearly misinforming people when he says it's a 4-1-4-1. Anyway, actual football!

Jurgen Klinsmann's side is passing the ball well, with the five midfield players and Jozy Altidore appearing to have a solid understanding. In particular, the US is looking great down the left with Jose Fransisco Torres playing as a regista, Donovan playing behind Altidore, and Brek Shea playing down the left.

The USA's best chance so far came in the 6th minute, though some great combination play between those three players. Shea played a great ball into space for Donovan just outside of the 18 yard box, but Donovan missed an open shot from just inside the area just wide. It was a poor finish that Donovan should have done better with, but it was a very encouraging move for the United States.


USA Vs. Costa Rica, 2011 International Friendly: Lineup Analysis

The Jurgen Klinsmann era is well underway, and it's sure to set off the church of 4-4-2. The United States appears to be starting in something that resembles a 4-2-3-1 tonight, but don't get too caught up on what exactly it should be called. Whatever it is, it will feature Landon Donovan as something that is definitely not a winger. Attacking midfielder, trequarista, second striker...something along those lines. He'll be operating in that position, behind Jozy Altidore and in front of two central midfielders. Here's the complete lineup.

One of Robbie Rogers or Brek Shea will be cutting in from the wing onto their strong foot, as both are left footed. So, one of them won't be getting to the endline and swinging in crosses. And there won't be two strikers. Every time Taylor Twellman says 4-4-2 during the broadcast, finish your drink!

The midfield of Maurice Edu and Jose Fransisco Torres is much different than the United States has played in the past, and they should make up the classic creator-destroyer combination that most 4-2-3-1 systems utilize. Torres can also tackle and Edu can also pass, so this could be an interesting (and frequently used) midfield pairing for the future.

Timothy Chandler will be starting at right back, and it would be surprising if he didn't lock that spot down with a great performance in this game. He's been fantastic for Nürnburg and Steve Cherundolo, while awesome, is unlikely to be a legitimate option as a starter at the 2014 World Cup. On the other side, Edgar Castillo has some work to do. He's had some flashes of brilliance for both the United States and Club America when he's played recently, and it'll take some great performances to hold off the giant pack of (admittedly flawed) options behind him.

In the center of defense, is it possible that Michael Orozco Fiscal has taken over the reigns for Klinsmann? He was average at best at right back for the Philadelphia Union last season, but he's back in the center of defense for San Luis. He's started three of their five games and they're in great position to qualify for Liguilla in Mexico at the moment.

Is this anywhere near to a first choice team for Klinsmann? Obviously, Clint Dempsey is likely to figure in somewhere in competitive matches, but this could possibly be close to the real thing. It will be very interesting to see who performs tonight, and possibly even more interesting to see who starts and performs well against Belgium next week.

Kickoff of the game is at 11:20 pm ET from the Home Depot Center in Carson, California. Follow along with us at SB Nation throughout the game in this StoryStream.


USA Vs. Costa Rica, 2011 International Friendly: Lineups

We're on match two of the Jurgen Klinsmann Era for US Soccer. Klinsmann will be without regular starters Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones, Micheal Bradley and Steve Cherundolo, but USA fans do get the return of Timmy Chandler. Jozy Altidore also returns to the side since injuring his hamstring in the Gold Cup Quarterfinal against Jamaica.

The Ticos are without Bryan Ruiz and Joel Campbell, but they'll be behind forward Alvaro Sabario who has been on fire as of late for Real Salt Lake in MLS. This is the final match under interim manager Ronald Gonzales as Jorge Luis Pinto was appointed on Thursday and will take over following this match.

United States:

Lineup: Tim Howard; Timmy Chandler, Michael Orozco Fiscal, Carlos Bocanegra (c), Edgar Castillo; Landon Donovan, Maurice Edu, Jose Francisco Torres; Robbie Rogers, Jozy Altidore, Brek Shea

Subs: Bill Hamid, Clarence Goodson, Jonathan Spector, Jeff Larentowicz, Sacha Kljestan, Tim Ream, Juan Agudelo

Costa Rica:

Lineup: Navas; Johnson, Umaña, Acosta, Miller; Barrantes, Azofeifa, Sanchez, Martinez, Saborio, Brenes

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