I think it is safe to say that Costa Rica coach Oscar Ramirez made a poor choice of tactics Tuesday night in Chicago when he sent his side out with the intentions of pressing the US men high up the pitch. It worked for the opening five minutes as the Americans were surprised by the aggressive visitors, but once adapted the US took the match to Costa Rica bossing the rest of the first half.
The tide turned in the 7th minute when a cross headed to the backpost for the waiting Bobby Wood. As the American began to attack the ball he was clearly pushed in the back by Costa Rica's Cristian Gamboa. An easy call for the referee who was only yards away. Penalty kick. Clint Dempsey calmly finished his 50th international goal putting the US on their way.
Things would get worse for Costa Rica from there. They insisted on the high pressure tactics. A plan that would be good if the match were in Costa Rica. Not so much so in Chicago. The Americans began to take advantage of the open space and punish their opponents on attack after attack.
The game was decided in a five minute stretch towards the end of the opening half when the US would score twice. In the 37th Jermaine Jones stole the ball at midfield and passed to Dempsey, who carried it deep into the Costa Rica side. The forward then nudged it back over to Jones, who shot it on the ground past a diving Pemberton. With Costa Rica looking ragged, the US went for the kill. Dempsey passed to Bobby Wood in the middle, where he turned away from defender Oscar Duarte and fired beating Pemberton on the ground for a 3-0 lead in the 42nd minute delighting the crowd of almost 40,000.
Costa Rica came out pushing again after the break, but the result was settled. The US sat in and absorbed the pressure limiting good chances at Brad Guzan. Finally as the end of the match neared the USA would add a 4th goal. Substitute Graham Zusi drove down the middle and fired home making it 4-0 and put the icing on a wonderful evening.
The emphatic win moves the US to 2nd in the group as Colombia defeated Paraguay 2-1 in the nightcap. This leaves the Americans in control of their own destiny needing only a draw in their final group match against Paraguay this weekend.
"We were eager to get on the field, we were eager to get the first three points in this tournament," said Klinsmann during his postgame news conference. "It took a little bit to kind of grind ourselves into the game, in the first 15-20 minutes. But then once the first goal came, we kept pushing for the next one, and we kept pushing for the next one."