12 Steps Forward, One Step Back For U.S. Soccer
An incredible and record-breaking 12-game winning streak by the U.S. Men’s National Team came to an end Friday night with a loss to Costa Rica in a 2014 World Cup Qualifying match. Although the loss is disappointing for the U.S., it’s merely a small step back after a lot of steps forward over the past year.
Much like the last time the U.S. visited Costa Rica for a World Cup qualifier four years ago, the Americans fell behind early and were never able to recover. After holding midfielder, and arguably their best player, Michael Bradley suffered an injury in warm ups and needed to be replaced in the starting lineup by Geoff Cameron at the last minute, the U.S. came out flat. Costa Rica scored an early goal off a corner kick, as set pieces continue to be the most troubling area for the U.S.
Soon after, the U.S. was caught short handed on a counter attack by Costa Rica, putting the Americans in an early two-goal hole. Although the game settled down after that, the U.S. never looked the part of a team that would be able to get back in the game.
Obviously, the U.S. winning streak was bound to end at some point, and it makes sense that it would happen now. The U.S. has never won a qualifying game away at Costa Rica, and for good reason, because it’s a difficult environment to play in for opposing teams. Moreover, the motivation for the game was always going to favor the Costa Ricans, who remain bitter and angry after losing to the U.S. in March in a game played in a massive snowstorm.
The win by Costa Rica moves them ahead of the U.S. in the Hexagonal standings, but for the Americans, one loss doesn’t necessarily stop all the momentum they’ve built up over the past six months. However, the U.S. does need to bounce back quickly for its home match on Tuesday against Mexico, a team going through great turmoil, as well as a coaching change.
The U.S. took a lot of steps forward during its 12-game winning streak, and the loss to Costa Rica is only a small step back, but now it’s time for them to continue their ascent, as Jurgen Klinsmann continues to lead American soccer to new heights.
Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at RantSports.com. He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball, and International Soccer. Like him on Facebook, follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him on Google.