United States beat Costa Rica 4-0 tonight, leaving the nightmares of their home opener in the past and continue to dream with the quarterfinals approaching.
What appeared to be a completely different team, the U.S came out firing in Chicago last night and took advantage of an early penalty taken by Clint Dempsey just nine minutes into the game.
Dempsey had a memorable night, adding two assists to his goal, which helped make it 3-0 in just the first half. Substitute Graham Zusi put the final nail in the coffin with a goal in the 89th minute to end Costa Rica’s misery.
Costa Rica had initially come out ready to defend and rely on the counter attacks by coming out with a 5-4-1 formation, but an early injury to Marcos Ureña and Dempsey’s premature goal forced them to change their tactical plans to a more offensive game plan. This would eventually leave openings in the back. Openings that the U.S team would easily exploit. Both Jermaine Jones’ and Bobby Wood’s goals originated from counter attacks from Costa Rica’s right side. Also, in both goals, it was Dempsey who led the attack and took the role of provider and set both Jones (perhaps on accident) and Wood for their goals.
Aside from the home opener, the United States may, just in fact, get their rhythm started. A blowout win serves many purposes, and in the U.S case, it helped relive the tension in the locker room, jump-started their star player’s momentum, helped their young forward get a goal and most importantly, gets them back on track for a position in quarterfinals.
The host’s final match of the group stage will most likely define their future in the competition. They play Paraguay Saturday night in Philadelphia, knowing that even a tie could be enough to see them go through.
At the moment, only Colombia has their future set. As for the rest of the teams, each one could either advance to the next round or be eliminated. The United States however, does have the advantage over Paraguay and Costa Rica in points (4), goal differential (+2) and goals for (4).
Klinsmann admittedly dreams of the U.S in semifinals. However, to get there, they have to show up to play on Saturday.