The Soccer Desk

Shea Shines Late for the Yanks, Win Group C

Soccer: Gold Cup-USA vs Costa Rica

East Hartford, CT – It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t fluid, but the US managed a win against Costa Rica.  While it was sure to be the biggest test for the states, Costa Rica seemed to give them more than they bargained for.  Luckily, great defense and some outstanding keeping from Sean Johnson kept the Yanks in the game, as did Brek Shea, who not only scored the match winning goal, but helped seal a Group C win for the USMNT.

“The team really deserves a huge compliment because, we could have taken it easy and said, you know what, we are first anyway in the group and a tie is fine,” head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said post match about his team, “but a ties is not fine with us, and so the team pushed and they grinded until the last minute, they deserved another goal.  You can see that there is a chemistry developing that is fun to watch.”

First Half:

The Ticos challenged the US early on in the first half, but the back line was up to the challenge.  Players like Michael Orozco were solid, not coming to far up their lines, leaving Costa Rica with little room to maneuver the ball.  But for the first 15 minutes of the contest, Costa Rica had the better offense.

Near the 20 minute mark though, the US upped their attack.  Alejandro Bedoya probably had the best chance of the half, with a headed attempt that went just wide past Costa Rican keeper, Patrick Pemberton.  Before the half came to end, it was clearly evident that the US was frustrated at their lack of chances on goal, waving their hands in the air after some questionable calls from head referee Courtney Campbell.  With both teams trying to outsmart each other, the first half whistle blew with a 0-0 draw.

Second Half:

Klinsmann’s eleven came out a lot stronger in the second half, but much like the first, the Ticos had an answer to everything the US threw at them.  Even with their five man back line, they were still able to make plays, but couldn’t capitalize when it came to making that final touch on the ball.

There was a great example of this in the 54th minute when Bedoya put in a beautiful ball to Chris Wondolowski.  Instead of taking a touch on the ball first, the San Jose Earthquakes striker would one time it, skying the ball over the crossbar.

The goal would finally come though.  After making a brilliant save to keep the score at 0-0, US keeper Sean Johnson would make a quick throw to Joe Corona.  Corona saw Landon Donovan making a run up the right, sending  him a perfectly placed pass, which he then quickly crossed to a wide open Brek Shea.  Shea, who started the match on the bench and came in as a sub in the 77th, took a couple of touches before shooting it past Pemberton and into the net.

The final whistle would blow shortly after, giving the USMNT the Group win with all nine points.

Match Notes:

Despite being the backup keeper, Sean Johnson had an excellent night in net for the Yanks, coming up big on some saves that, if not properly handled, could have led to a couple of Costa Rican goals.  While he certainly looked nervous to start out, the Chicago Fire man quickly became calm and composed, and had a huge place in creating the winning goal. He may not start come this Sunday, but at least on the national level, he’s come a long way.

Chris Wondolowski had an off day, but still had a couple of decent chances.  Klinsmann made the right move no matter what to start him.  Five goals in two matches give a player that right to try and prove themselves.

Next Match:

The US have five days of rest until Sunday, when they take on El Salvador in the 2013 Gold Cup quarterfinals from MT Bank Stadium in Baltimore at 4:00 p.m. ET.  On the line is the US’ eight match unbeaten streak, which sets a new Federation record.  The Soccer Desk will be live on hand on game day, bringing you in depth pre and post match coverage along with up to the minute live tweets via @soccerdesk.  Look for a more in depth analysis later this week from Richard McGovern.

(photo courtesy of USA Today)