: Gold Cup third place match: USA vs. Costa Rica
This was a frustrating tournament for me, with the USA giving a Jeckyl and Hyde performance. After their terrible game against Brazil, I was actually rooting for Costa Rica, figuring the U.S. didn’t deserve a win. After all, this was the senior U.S. team who’d lost to an under-23 Brazil team. Granted, Brazil’s youth teams are better than most country’s full national teams, but still: this was the U.S.’ tournament to win. Besides, if we aren’t there to win it, I resent the Earthquakes losing Landon Donovan and Richard Mulrooney to a useless exercise like this. At least get to the final so we can justify MLS losing top players!
Anyway, this game began with more of the same, with the U.S. defense leaving gaps for Costa Rica to pinch in, and shortly Costa Rica scored. But the U.S. came right back with a terrific goal from Donovan and Bocanegra. A long high ball over the back of the Costa Rica defense fell to Donovan on the line, but his quick turn of the ball inward went right to Bocanegra who finished it for his second goal of the tournament. But before the end of the half another defensive miscue (and potential Keller misplay as he gave up a rebound) gave Costa Rica the lead again. In the second half, however, the Americans finally started playing well. Defensively they closed down Costa Rica, and offensively they put on a lot of pressure. The game was tied early when Earnie Stewart scored with an incredible volley (possibly goal of the tournament), followed later by a fantastic run by Landon Donovan. He took the ball deep in the U.S. half and leisurely ran it to the half-way line. Here he was confronted by a Costa Rica defender, but Landon’s sudden deke was so quick and effective, the defender actually tripped himself up and fell down as he tried to follow the American! With acres of space in front of him, Donovan went ahead with a burst of speed, running toward the Costa Rican goal. His teammate Bobby Convey was slightly ahead of him, and that kept the two Costa Rican defenders in two minds: mark Covey or stop Donovan? Then Landon fed a perfect through-ball into the open space in front of Convey, who sped onto it, leaving his markers behind. Convey finished beautifully, scoring at the near post with one touch. Great sequence, great goal. That seemed to break Costa Rica, and the U.S. finished with a deserving win. Though the U.S. gave up far too many goals in those last two games, they finally did start to play well. But they definitely have some work to do before World Cup qualifying begins next year. Final: 3-2 USA.