Thanks to three goals in the first half, the United States earned a crucial three points over Costa Rica to put them in a position to potentially advance out of the group stage.
USA take over the game in the first half
After giving up an early goal to Colombia, the United States nearly gave up another goal inside 10 minutes to start a match. DeAndre Yedlin, who had a tough outing against Colombia, made a horrible clearance near his own penalty area. The ball fell directly to Joel Campbell, whose volley went just wide of Brad Guzan's right post. It was a nervy start for the United States but received a gift early on. Bobby Wood was shoved in the back by Christian Gamboa on an incoming cross from Yedlin.
The referee thought about it and then pointed to the spot, must to the dismay of the Costa Ricans. It was a controversial call, to say the least. Then Clint Dempsey calmly stepped up and slotted the penalty home in the 9th minute to give the US the lead. The goal seemed to give the US some confidence going forward as the half wore on. If not for some mistakes on some passes or final touches, the USA were close to some breakaways in the opening 20 minutes.
The game began to settle down for Costa Rica as they continued to push for an equalizer.
"We played well, but we need to do better in the counterattack." said Costa Rica captain Bryan Ruiz when asked about the positives to take away from the game.
Yet, they still had to be wary of the USA counterattack which came close to generating chances. But once again, poor decisions in the final third proved to be the downfall of those chances. Gyasi Zardes, who was looking to rebound from a disappointing opening game, had a chance in the 24th minute when he found himself one on one with the goalkeeper. But his effort hit the side netting. He missed another golden chance in the 33rd minute when he skied an effort from inside the penalty area. It was really good buildup from the United States and they seemed to have cut the Costa Rican defense open. It was all good except for the finish.
But a goal was coming, everyone in the stadium could feel it and it came in the 37th minute. Dempsey, who was giving Costa Rica problems all night, found Jermaine Jones on the edge of the box. Jones slid right and curled a shot past keeper Patrick Pemberton, making up for his miss just a minute earlier. It was 2-0 United States and they looked to be in control as the half drew to a close. But the United States were not done just yet.
Wood, who had a rough game for much of the first half, controlled the ball and smashed a shot home to make it 3-0 and essentially seal the game for the USA. It was a pure strength move by the Hamburg striker and Pemberton shouldn't be happy about giving up a goal at his near post like that. But nonetheless, it was a goal and the United States will take anything given to them. It was a fantastic first half showing by the USA as they led 3-0 at halftime.
Easy second half for the United States
Costa Rica seemed to have raised the white flag in defeat when Campbell was brought off. Yet, it was once again Los Ticos who generated the first chance of the second half. Celso Borges, the defender from Deportivo La Coruna, saw his one-time effort fly just over the bar in the 54th minute. It seemed to be Costa Rica's only good chance of the half until Ruiz hit the post on a header off a corner. The ball beat Guzan but not the post. It was the perfect chance for Costa Rica to get back into the game but they were denied by the woodwork.
The United States seemed to be content with giving up possession when the second half started but began to gain back control as the half wore on. They nearly added a fourth when Alejandro Bedoya's cross had to be pushed away by Francisco Calvo near the goal line. Once again it was the play of Jones who made it all work as he made the initial pass to Bedoya. Costa Rica had one big chance in the final 10 minutes on a free kick. Christian Bolanos played a beautiful ball to Oscar Duarate who slid a ball over that was cleared away for a corner. It was nearly identical to the set piece that gave Costa Rica a 2-1 lead against Uruguay in the World Cup back in 2014.
It was Graham Zusi who put the icing on the cake with a 4th goal for the United States in the 88th minute. He slid through the Costa Rican defense and slotted it home with his left foot. Geoff Cameron nearly added a 5th off a corner as he forced Pemberton to make a pure reaction save, coming across the face of goal.
When the referee blew the final whistle, it was a key three points for the USA.
"I think they deserve a huge compliment for tonight's performance," said Jurgen Klinsmann when asked about his team's performance in the win