Prior to the game, the USA’s midfield maestro, Michael Bradley, rolled his ankle. Due to this, he was sidelined for the entire match in Costa Rica – and to be absolutely frank, he truly was the missing piece.
Without Bradley’s guidance, vision, control, intelligence and overall presence in front of that back line, the team completely fell apart. They allowed three goals, and were unorganized at the beginning against a team that was simply relentless for the first half hour or so.
Clint Dempsey (penalty goal), Landon Donovan and the others in the attacking third were overwhelmed by the pressure of the players and the non-stop jeering of the fans. This is always hard to overcome, but for a team that was on a 12-game winning streak, more was expected out of them.
Playing in a WC qualifier on Costa Rican soil is never easy by any means whatsoever, but when you risk losing leadership in the group, you fight as hard as you can for that victory and do not make mistakes on the defensive end. Now, the U.S. has a big test ahead of them on Tuesday at home to a Mexican side who just fired their head coach and will look to bounce right up from fourth place.
Mexico last played in the U.S. in an August victory over the Ivory Coast courtesy of the 4-1 score line. If they are confident enough for a repeat performance, the U.S. will be in trouble, especially since they will be without Jozy Altidore, Matt Besler and possibly Bradley.
Therefore, the U.S. will have their work cut out for them.