Quakes' Urena scores brace to lead Costa Rica past USMNT in critical WC qualifier


Quakes' Urena scores brace to lead Costa Rica past USMNT in critical WC qualifier


HARRISON, N.J.  — The United States put its hopes of an eighth straight World Cup berth in peril, giving up a pair of goals to Marco Urena in a 2-0 defeat to Costa Rica on Friday night that brought the Americans' resurgence under coach Bruce Arena to a crashing thud.

Urena spun around defender Tim Ream, then caught Tim Howard leaning and beat the goalkeeper to the far post in the 31st minute. Urena, the lone forward in a 4-5-1 formation, doubled the lead in the 82nd with a shot from 18 yards after David Guzman intercepted a poor pass by Geoff Cameron.

"Clearly, walking away tonight without any points is disappointing, very disappointing," Arena said. "We obviously didn't play well tonight, didn't make any plays that mattered."

The Americans have lost two home games in a World Cup cycle for the first time since 1957 and likely will need points on the road to reach next year's tournament in Russia.

It was just their third home loss in qualifying since 1985 — and came 16 years to the day the U.S. and Arena lost 3-2 to Honduras at Washington's RFK Stadium.

With three games left in the final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region, the United States was clinging to third place — the last automatic berth — and results later Friday could drop the U.S. down the standings.

The Americans play at Honduras on Tuesday night, then close the hexagonal next month at home against Panama and at Trinidad and Tobago. American forward Jozy Altidore is suspended for Tuesday's game after an 80th minute yellow card for pushing Johan Venegas.

"This group is strong and ready for this challenge," U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley said.

Christian Pulisic, the Americans' emerging 18-year-old star, had the best U.S. scoring chance in the 67th minute but was denied by goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who batted the ball with his right hand off his right foot, and it was cleared to safety. Navas then made a sliding stop on Jozy Altidore just before Urena's second goal.

Many Costa Rican fans were in the crowd of 26,500 at Red Bull Arena for the first World Cup qualifier in the New York area, avoided in the past by the U.S. Soccer Federation as it sought pro-American crowds.

Arena repeatedly hectored Panamanian referee John Pitti, who did not call penalty kicks when Altidore was pushed to the ground in the first half and Clint Dempsey was knocked down in the second.

Desperate for a goal, Arena finished the match with four forwards after inserting Dempsey in the 65th minute and Jordan Morris in the 84th.

Mexico and Costa Rica lead the standings with 14 points each, followed by the U.S. with eighth, Panama with seven, Honduras with five and Trinidad with three.

In later games, Honduras was at Trinidad and Tobago and Mexico hosted Panama.

"Right now Mexico and Costa Rica ... probably qualified," Area said. "It's going to be a battle amongst the remaining four teams."

While the top three teams qualify, the fourth-place finisher advanced to a playoff against Asia's No. 5 team.

The U.S. opened the final round with a 2-1 home loss to Mexico and a 4-0 rout at Costa Rica, causing the USSF to fire coach Jurgen Klinsmann and bring back Arena, the Americans' coach from 1998-2006. The U.S. had been 9-0-5 under Arena, winning home qualifiers against Honduras and Trinidad and gaining draws at Panama and Mexico.

Costa Rica went ahead after Howard cleared the ball to past midfield and the Ticos won possession. With Ream and Cameron split wide, Costa Rica captain Bryan Ruiz played a through pass to Urena.

Urena took several touches to get around Ream and from a wide angle, spotted Howard committing to his left to defend his near post. Urena slotted the ball to the far post, past the goalkeeper's outstretched right arm.

Ream, taking over from injured John Brooks, was paired with Cameron in central defense for the first time. Just before the goal, Arena slapped his arms in disgust when Ream, who played for New York at Red Bull Arena in 2010-11, played the ball back to Howard rather than advance it upfield.

Cameron's gaffe led to Urena's 13th goal in 56 international appearances.

Defensive lapses cost Quakes in first loss of new season


Defensive lapses cost Quakes in first loss of new season


Is Saturday's road effort a sign of things to come or a new team trying to gel?

After a 2017 campaign where the San Jose Earthquakes struggled on the road -- especially defensively -- the 2018 season did not start much better in a 3-2 loss to Sporting Kansas City. 

"Of course, I am disappointed to be leaving here without points," said Quakes head coach Mikael Stahre, "but especially because in the first half and then in the first 15 minutes of the second we played really well."

The teams went into the half tied but Sporting Kansas scored twice in the second half, both times taking advantage of San Jose's gift of enough space for KC to take advantage of.

Chris Wondolowski scored for the Quakes -- putting him 10 goals away from Landon Donovan in the MLS all-time race and all alone in second place on that list. 

"I wish we could have won," Wondolowski said. "but credit to our team and Magnus [Eriksson] for putting that ball in there. To finish it was pretty cool, but hopefully we will get a couple more wins."

After conceeding a penalty halfway through the second half, Valeri Qazaishvili equalized in minute 34, following up his own header attempt and cashing in for his second goal of the seaon. 

But that would be all San Jose could muster for the majority of the second half.

Graham Zusi scored in the 56th minute on a beauty of a shot. 

Felipe Gutierrez will be awarded with the game-winner after a left-footed bullet beat Andrew Tarbell.  

San Jose (1-1-0) is winless in its last four against Sporting.

"We came here with ambition to win the game, or second best to leave with a point," Stahre said. "We fought until the end and it was really important for us to score the second goal, but I felt at halftime that we could have won the game. Then we conceded the second goal and we lost the momentum. They are a good team, but I think we can take some positive things with us."

Earthquakes media services contributed to this report.

Quakes choose young FIU defender with their first pick in 2018 MLS SuperDraft

Quakes choose young FIU defender with their first pick in 2018 MLS SuperDraft

The San Jose Earthquakes are hoping they've caught lighting in a bottle twice. 

Last season, Nick Lima emerged as one of the game's best young defenders. And on Day 1 of the 2018 MLS SuperDraft, San Jose went to the fullback well with the selection of Paul Marie from Florida International University with the 12th pick in the first round. 

"Paul has the profile we were looking for from the very beginning heading into the combine and the draft," said Earthquakes general manager Jesse Fioranelli via press release. "We were looking for a fullback. We see in him an offensive-minded outside back that has technical qualities and the ability to read the game."

Experts pegged Marie, 22, as a late-first, early-second-round selection. But a pair of solid days during the MLS Combine boosted the Frenchman's stock -- especially on San Jose's board. According to Fioranelli, Marie was No. 4 on their draft board -- having him there at No. 12 must have felt like a steal for Fioranelli and staff. 

"We especially liked that he has character and in the interview that we had with him, he convinced us," Fioranelli said. "The entire coaching staff are really excited about having him part of the club."

San Jose not only lucked out that their fourth-best footballer was there at 12, but with American parents, he does not take up an international slot for San Jose -- the team is still three players over their allotment.

In an interview after his selection with Jason Davis of Sirius XM radio, Marie told San Jose fans what they can expect from the defender. 

"They can expect Paul Marie to give it all for San Jose," he said. 

The Quakes were in need of defensive depth going in to Day 1 of the SuperDraft. In Marie, they have a fullback who can stretch the pitch from the right side and be a backup to Lima.