The U.S. men's national team lost to Costa Rica on Tuesday in World Cup qualifying. It was not only a very, very bad loss, but it was a historically bad loss. It also marked the worst start to the final round of World Cup qualifying that the USMNT has ever had. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann has to answer for it.
He opted to use the exact same line-up that lost to Mexico on Friday. That is a move that deserve some scrutiny, because, well the team didn't play all that well against Mexico. He had the USMNT come out in a familiar 4-4-2 in Costa Rica, but it was after the team had apparently been training in a 3-5-2, which turned out to be a disaster. The USMNT looked shaken in Costa Rica, and there are legitimate questions about how their previous struggles against Mexico may have contributed.
Klinsmann shuffled a back line that seemed to been working just fine in Copa America by moving DeAndre Yedlin and Fabian Johnson out of the fullback spots. Should Matt Besler, a center back, really be used as a left back? And should Sacha Kljestan have started on the bench when Jermaine Jones didn't look 100 percent fit?
Worst of all, the players didn't seem particularly motivated. Anyone watching that performance may have to wonder if Klinsmann has lost the locker room. Tuesday may have not been the tactical misfire that Friday was, but it's hard ultimately to separate out.
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Jozy Altidore: 5.5
He worked hard on both sides of the ball, at one point saving the USMNT from conceding a goal on a set piece with a desperate effort to get a toe on the ball. He just barely got any service so he was limited in how he could help the attack.
Bobby Wood: 5.5
He's in pretty much the same boat as Altidore. Wood worked hard and tried to make things happen, but didn't get enough of the ball to do it. At one point, he did a wonderful job of beating a defender and getting a cross to Pulisic, who was running in too late, but it could've been a great tap-in goal.
Christian Pulisic: 6
He looked like perhaps the best player on the pitch for the Americans, but he didn't get enough of the ball (are you sensing a theme here?). He was dynamic in the few touches he did get, and he did well to pass in tight spaces and dribble through defenders to set up chances (that ultimately weren't finished).
Michael Bradley: 4.5
He struggled to help control the midfield and his passing was especially sloppy. At one point, he sent a corner kick over everyone and out of bounds. He looked off all night.
Jermaine Jones: 4
Like Bradley, Jones struggled to control the midfield. He also looked tired as the match stretched on, which is somewhat understandable – he's coming off an injury and we made the same observation on Friday. But if Jones wasn't fit enough, Klinsmann should've put a player like Sacha Kljestan in instead.
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Fabian Johnson: 5
He did his part to be threatening and had a couple close chances. He shot a free kick just over the bar, and he took a shot after a nice Pulisic lay off but didn't get enough power on it. But otherwise didn't do much.
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Timmy Chandler: 2
He struggled. More than once he gave the ball away for no reason. More than once he was slow to track back and help defend after he pushed forward. Chandler's lack of pace and energy will have fans wondering why Klinsmann wasn't willing to get DeAndre Yedlin in the game.
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John Brooks: 1.5
This may be his worst performance in a USA uniform. He lost his marks and got beat constantly. His passing was poor and at one point he gave up a goal by taking a horrible first touch that gifted the ball to Joel Campbell, and then Campbell torched past him. In fact, he played a role in all four conceded goals. Klinsmann openly blamed Brooks for allowing Mexico's game-winner on Friday, but Tuesday's performance made Brooks look like a different player altogether. In fairness, Brooks came off a months-long injury only recently, and maybe he wasn't back to match sharpness – but it's on Klinsmann to have recognized that. Brooks has typically been one of the USMNT's very best, but he was woefully inadequate in Costa Rica.
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Omar Gonzalez: 2
He was a non-factor throughout. He lacked urgency, pressure or pace. He didn't close down the Ticos, and the USMNT paid dearly.
Of the back four, Besler was probably the least bad, especially considering he was asked to be a left back, but it was still a very rough day at the office for him.
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Brad Guzan: 3
His defense let him down again and again. He still made a couple big saves though that delayed the inevitable for the USMNT. He came off his line for a big kick save in the seventh minute and he finished with five saves. But his distribution was very poor and led to the USMNT turning the ball over more than once. Oh, and he conceded four goals.