In a must-win game, the U.S. Men’s National Team delivered in a big way in Soldier Field.
A loss to Costa Rica would have made the Americans the first team eliminated from the Copa America Centenario. Instead they hammered the Ticos with three first half goals in a 4-0 win in front of a crowd of 39,642 in Chicago.
Clint Dempsey got the party started with a penalty kick in the ninth minute. Jermaine Jones and and Bobby Wood added goals late in the first half and the rout was on.
“We think they deserve a huge, huge compliment for tonight’s performance,” U.S manager Jurgen Klinsmann said. “I think it was overall a very, very pleasant performance and it confirms the spirit of the group. The spirit is excellent.”
Dempsey also assisted on Jones’ and Wood’s goals to have a goal and two assists by halftime. It was a must-win for the U.S., but Dempsey said playing well under pressure is nothing new for the team.
“Any World Cup cycle you’re going to have periods where things are not going well and you have to respond," he said. "For us to have a chance at staying in this tournament and getting out of our group we needed to win tonight. But the work’s not done.”
The final group game for the U.S. is Saturday against Paraguay in Philadelphia. A draw would be good enough for the U.S. to advance from Group A as the second place team behind Colombia, which beat the U.S. 2-0 in the tournament opener.
From the local standpoint, Brad Guzan was able to get the shutout in Chicago. Guzan is a Providence Catholic graduate and this was his first match for the national team in Soldier Field.
“It’s always important to keep a clean sheet,” Klinsmann said. “It’s important for your back line, it’s important for your goalkeeper. He had a home game tonight, Brad Guzan, in Chicago so he’s super pleased obviously.”
Guzan directed the talk away from himself, but was pleased with the team’s performance.
“We knew from day one that the second game was going to be huge for us and the guys, all the credit to them, they turned out a great performance,” Guzan said.
Soldier Field was more than 20,000 seats short of a full-house, but it was a pro-American crowd, which the team did not enjoy at Levi’s Stadium against Colombia.
“Today was perfect. We played good and the support was good,” Jones said.