HARRISON, N.J. — The U.S. national team walked off the Red Bull Arena field stunned, bewildered and frustrated Friday night.
And for good reason as the Americans suffered a numbing and rare home World Cup qualifying defeat to Costa Rica, 2-0.
For only the fourth time in 32 years, the United States lost a home qualifier, and as it turned out, the first World Cup game ever in the metropolitan area. The red, white and blue also dropped a 1-0 decision to the Ticos in 1985, a 3-2 loss to Honduras in 2001 and a 2-1 setback to Mexico last year.
“We obviously didn’t play well tonight,” U.S. coach Bruce Arena said. “We didn’t make any plays that mattered. We were outplayed in most positions on the field and made critical errors. We didn’t have a good night. Give Costa Rica credit. I thought they outplayed us.”
Marco Urena supplied the scoring for Costa Rica (4-1-2, 14 points), connecting twice. Goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who stars for Real Madrid, kept the United States (2-3-2, 8) off the scoreboard with a stellar performance, including a spectacular kick save on teen phenom Christian Pulisic in the 68th minute.
The United States has three games remaining in qualifying, including a Tuesday encounter in Honduras.
“We’ll respond in a big way, like we always try to do,” captain Michael Bradley said. “We have three games to go, nine points on the table, everything still to play for.
“It’s disappointing to lose at home. We always talk about how important it is to take full points and we weren’t able to do that tonight. We’re ready to go down to the wire to get ourselves into the World Cup.”
Pulisic, who scored seven goals in his first 17 international matches, was not much of a factor as the American attack struggled.
“He had a tough game today and obviously they played a lot of attention to him,” Arena said. “I think he got a little frustrated.”
The Ticos drew first blood in the 30th minute. Captain Bryan Ruiz launched a pass to an onrushing Urena, who got a step on center back Tim Ream. Urena shot from the left side past goalkeeper Tim Howard into the net.
Costa Rica took advantage of another error in the 82nd minute as center back Geoff Cameron had his pass intercepted by David Guzman as he fed Urena, who connected from 15 yards.