The shutout for the U.S. came behind yet another strong performance in goal from Kasey Keller who now has an astonishing 12 shutouts in 18 all-time Gold Cup appearances.
While the draw extended the USA’s all-time unbeaten mark across 19 opening round Gold Cup matches it did mark the first time the team has failed to win an opening round match in the tournament’s 15-year history. The USA is now 18-0-1 all-time in first round play in the Gold Cup dating back to the inaugural event in 1991 won by the United States.
"I thought it was a good game said U.S. manager Bruce Arena. "I thought both teams played well. There weren’t a whole lot of chances but the pace was very good. It is a pretty good effort considering that both teams could have sat back and relaxed tonight. Overall we are satisfied because our objective is to be in a game on Saturday (in the Gold Cup quarterfinals)."
With the Group B title safely tucked away the U.S. will remain in Foxboro for their Gold Cup quarterfinal match on Saturday July 16 at 4 p.m. ET. The U.S. opponent will be either Jamaica South Africa or Mexico who complete Group C play on Wednesday July 13 in Houston Texas.
All three teams are still in the running for the top three places in the group and the U.S. will play the third-place finisher. The U.S. quarterfinal will be televised live on Telefutura (with English closed captioning) and can be followed live via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker presented by Philips Electronics.
The match against Costa Rica started off at a hectic pace with the U.S. displaying its usual commitment to pressing the ball and pushing the attack and enjoying the majority of possession. The team nearly got off to a dream start in the second minute with Pat Noonan pushing through wide on the right and playing a low cross to John O’Brien but Noonan was whistled offside on the initial crafty backheel from Clint Dempsey.
Momentum began to swing for the Costa Ricans after 10 minutes though starting with a defensive error that nearly proved costly. A mix-up in the back sprung forward Oscar Rojas through on goal and he barreled towards the right the side of the box before shooting back to the far post from the top of the area. Keller had the attempt well covered as the ball skidded wide.
The game maintained its quick pace for the first half-hour with the Costa Ricans still holding the advantage in possession and chances. The U.S. seemed a bit out of sync at both ends the backline often disconnected in its positioning while the group failed to connect on several passes. Costa Rican ‘keeper Jose Porras had an outstanding half maintaining firm control of his area while collecting several U.S. crossing attempts.
The Costa Ricans had another great chance in the 27th minute after a failed offside trap from the U.S. back four. Steven Bryce was the recipient of the mistake as he was able to steak into the area on alone on the right flank. A moment of hesitation before trying to hit a cross to a wide open Randall Brenes at the far post though proved fatal for Bryce as Keller was able to easily snare the eventual attempt just six yards from his goal mouth.
"We’ve given up one goal in three games and that is fantastic said Keller who earned his 83rd all-time cap in goal to move past Brad Friedel into second all-time for the U.S. in that category.
"You are going to win a lot of games if you keep it that tight in the back. We’ve got a good foundation to build on. Jimmy Conrad has stepped in and done a great job and the veterans like Tony Sanneh and Eddie Pope have been solid as well."
The U.S. began to get its footing late in the half snatching back more of the possession and creating a few opportunities. Their best chance of the half came in the 35th minute and began with the enterprise of Dempsey. He picked off a pass near the top of the center circle and was off to the races charging in on Porras one v. one. With a defender closing Porras was able to hold his line and Dempsey’s left-footed effort went straight into the keeper’s hands.
It was John O’Brien’s turn to have a great look at goal in the 40th minute collecting a ball deep in the box off a pass from Dempsey. With a seemingly solid shooting angle he opted for a cutback move but the defender wasn’t fooled and the chance slipped away.
The second-half pace was a bit more settled with the U.S. defensive effort in the final 45 minutes being much stronger than the first 45. With ussoccer.com Man of the Match Steve Cherundolo marshaling a backline of Conrad Frankie Hejduk and Sanneh the Costa Ricans were seemingly content to sit back in the second half and seek to counter.
The U.S. intensified their search for the go-ahead goal in the second half by inserting DaMarcus Beasley in the 58th minute and Landon Donovan eight minutes later. The hunt for a goal though would eventually end fruitless despite a great attempt from the final second-half sub Josh Wolff in the 90th minute.
On that attempt the speedy Wolff got around Costa Rican defender Victor Cordero and free on the left side of the area after a brilliant 50-yard pass from Beasley down the left flank. With a slight angle and only Porras to beat Wolff took aim at the far post but could not get it past the strong Tico goalkeeper.
"I thought our team had a very good second half said Arena. "We were very good defensively and really cut down on any attacks that Costa Rica tried to develop. Our fault for the game was that we weren’t sharp in the final third of the field. I felt we had enough chances to get a goal tonight and we failed there."
Late in the match Hejduk was called for a dive as he attacked Costa Rica on the edge of the penalty area and was handed his second yellow card of the tournament meaning he will have to sit out Saturday’s quarterfinal.
"Winning the group was the key and we did that said Keller who now has an amazing 41 career shutouts for the U.S. extending his U.S. record. "We need to be more decisive in front of the goal. We don’t have a big presence up top right now like (Brian) McBride or (Eddie) Johnson and we are waiting for that type of person to step up. Fingers crossed will get it in the quarterfinals."
The shutout against Costa Rica marked the USA’s 21st shutout in 34 all-time Gold Cup matches.
-- U.S. Men’s National Team Game Report --
Match-up: USA vs. Costa Rica
Date: July 12 2005
Competition: CONCACAF Gold Cup
Venue: Gillette Stadium – Foxboro Mass.
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Weather: 74 degrees clear skies
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 0 0
Costa Rica 0 0 0
USA: 18-Kasey Keller (capt.); 6-Steve Cherundolo 22-Tony Sanneh 12-Jimmy Conrad 2-Frankie Hejduk; 14-Chris Armas 15-Ben Olsen 5-John O’Brien (7-DaMarcus Beasley 58) 19-Steve Ralston; 13-Pat Noonan (10-Landon Donovan 66) 8-Clint Dempsey (16-Josh Wolff 78)
Subs not used: 1-Marcus Hahnemann; 3-Greg Vanney 9-Santino Quaranta 21-Brad Davis
Head Coach: Bruce Arena
CRC: 18-Jose Porras 15-Harold Wallace 13-Victor Cordero 4-Michael Umana 3-Roy Miller; 17-Steven Bryce 6-Daniel Fonseca 8-Jose Luis Lopez (20-Douglas Sequiera 67) 10-Jafet Soto (9-Bryan Ruiz 76); 21-Randall Brenes (11-Cristian Bolanos 62) 7-Oscar Rojas
Subs not used: 1-Alvaro Messen 5-Gabriel Badilla 12-Junior Diaz 19-Mauricio Wright
Head Coach: Alexandre Guimaeres
CRC – Oscar Rojas (caution) 25th minute
CRC – Cristian Bolanas (caution) 78.
USA – Frankie Hejduk (caution) 87.
Referee: Benito Archundia (MEX)
1st Asst.: Pedro Rebollar (MEX)
2nd Asst.: Arturo Velasquez (MEX)
Fourth Official: Jose Pineda(HON)
ussoccer.com Man of the Match: Steve Cherundolo