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U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM

October 14, 2009
FANTASTIC FINISH
Shorthanded U.S. comes back for 2-2 tie

By Charles Cuttone
Executive Editor

Jonathan Bornstein heads home Robbie Rogers' stoppage time corner kick to lift the USA into a 2-2 draw with Costa Rica.
Jonathan Bornstein heads home Robbie Rogers' stoppage time corner kick to lift the USA into a 2-2 draw with Costa Rica.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
WASHINGTON, DC---The United States overcame sloppy weather, sloppy play, a couple of quick goals by Costa Rica’s Bryan Ruiz and a late injury to defender Oguchi Onyewu to pull out a stunning 2-2 draw with Costa Rica in the last game of World Cup Qualifying at R.F.K. Stadium Wednesday night.

On the strength of a late goal by Michael Bradley and a stoppage time tally by Jonathan Bornstein, the Americans made a dazzling comeback against the Ticos.

After dominating most of the way, the constant pressure by the U.S. finally paid off when a shot from about eight yards by Landon Donovan was stopped by Keilor Navas, but the Ticos’ goalkeeper could not hold onto the ball, and Michael Bradley poked it into the net in the 72nd minute.

When Onyewu went out with an injury in the 83rd minute after the U.S. had used its three substitutions, the Americans’ hopes seemed slim, but the Costa Ricans sat back on their lead, and eventually a corner kick by Robbie Rogers was headed in by Bornstein to tie the game and send RFK stadium rattling.

The rain-soaked, mostly American crowd of 26,243 stayed in good voice most of the game, and during -the ninth minute, paid a moving tribute to U.S. forward Charlie Davies who was seriously injured in a car accident early Tuesday morning. For the entire ninth minute, many of the fans not already standing, stood, held up placards with Davies # 9 on it and chanted his name. The Bara Brava section of D.C. United fans was enveloped in plumes of red, white and blue smoke.

With the draw, the U.S. finishes at the top of the CONCACAF qualifying standings with 20 points, followed by Mexico, who tied Trinidad & Tobago 2-2 on Wednesday, and Honduras, 1-0 winners over El Salvador. Costa Rica’s World Cup fate now lies in the hands of a playoff with the fifth place finisher from South America.

The U.S. had the better of the chances in the first half, but it was Costa Rica that capitalized on a defense that was a sloppy as the weather.

Ruiz got a ball from Michael Barrantes and beat Onyewu in the left side of the penalty area in the 21st minute. The Costa Rican forward cut in and beat goalkeeper Tim Howard with a shot to the far side. The play started with a long ball from the back on a quick counterattack after one of the USA’s many failed chances.

Three minutes later, a pass from Walter Centeno found Ruiz on the right side. He fired a shot to the center of the net from the top of the penalty area to make it 2-0.

The U.S. dominated possession and opportunities the rest of the first half. In the 37th minute, Donovan ran onto a nicely-placed header from Jozy Altidore, but sent his shot high. Five minutes later, Altidore got tangled up with Cristian Montero at the edge of the penalty area. Stuart Holden sent a short free kick to Bradley, whose shot was blocked.

Navas came up with a pair of big saves in the final two minutes of the half, first stopping a shot from inside the area by Donovan then making the block on a nearly point-blank shot by Altidore.

Conor Casey, the hero of Saturday’s win against Honduras, had a couple of early chances, sending a hot wide after being found completely open by an Altidore pass in the tenth minute. Ten minutes later, Casey was the beneficiary of a pass from Donovan. The Colorado Rapids forward turned and got off a shot, but without much behind it. The ensuing counterattack resulted in the Ticos’ first goal.

For the first 15 minutes of the second half, the Ticos seemed content to sit on their lead, while chants of Ole came from the Costa Rican fans in the stands.

The U.S. kept trying to center its attack around Altidore and Casey who were playing up front. Casey seemed slow to react to many of the balls played to him, and Altidore could not seem to control the ball in the wet conditions.

When the US finally broke through, it was the play of the midfielders that made the difference. Moments after Bradley and Donovan combined on the U.S. goal, Robbie Rogers got free on a breakaway, but sent his shot wide.

Altidore got free on a breakaway in the 80th minute, but sent yet another shot sailing high over the net.

In the 88th minute, when Dennis Marshall went down with an injury, the Costa Rican trainer spilled the contents of a cooler on the field, delaying the game while he cleaned up its contents. The Ticos wanted to make a substitution, but referee Benito Archundia would not allow it. Costa Rican head coach Rene Simoes and another member of the coaching staff were both red carded.
   
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