Team USA's dimming World Cup hopes explained

US Pulisic Presence Soccer

The United States' chances of qualifying for Russian Federation 2018 took a hit on Friday after Marco Urena's brace gave Costa Rica a 2-0 victory in NY. The US had been 9-0-5 since Arena's return, winning home qualifiers against Honduras and Trinidad and gaining draws at Panama and Mexico.

For only the fourth time in 32 years, the United States lost a home qualifier, and as it turned out, the first World Cup game ever in the metropolitan area. The US visit Honduras on Tuesday, while Costa Rica host Mexico.

"We made some critical errors, and we didn't have a good night". But the call didn't go the US' way, which set the tone for the rest of the night.

Christian Pulisic, 18, had a rough game against Costa Rica's defense. Navas then made a sliding stop on Jozy Altidore just before Urena's second goal. You don't win every game.

In the 81st minute, Geoff Cameron lofted a ball over the top to Altidore, but Navas again came up big to stone the striker.

Ream, taking over from injured John Brooks, was paired with Cameron in central defense for the first time. We should have been a little bit better.

"There's no time to feel sorry for ourselves, and we're not", United States captain Michael Bradley said. The US next plays Tuesday in Honduras in a match that now takes on great significance. He made his first-team debut in January 2016 at age 17, and two months later was called up to the USA national team.

Urena - in space between two defenders - received the ball and while he was shown the line by Ream and forced away from goal, he managed to beat Howard with a low shot across goal and into the far corner.

"He had a tough game today and obviously they paid a lot of attention to him", Arena said of Pulisic.

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The Real Madrid goalkeeper would prove to be a life saver throughout the course of the game as he made further saves to prevent the USA from tying the game.

The top three finishers will advance automatically to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russian Federation next summer, while the fourth-place finisher will face an Asian team in a two-legged World Cup playoff in November.

The Americans could fall to fifth depending on later results involving Panama and Honduras, who played Trinidad and Tobago. In July, Arena brought in some younger players and relied on the veterans as well to bring home the Gold Cup trophy when they defeated Jamaica 3-1 in the final game.

With a quick turnaround, long travel and suffocating heat, Arena is expected to replace many of Friday's starters. "Of course, the past year's been a roller coaster", Pulisic said.

Costa Rica forward Marco Urena would get his first with a goal in the 30th minute.

"It's going to be a battle amongst the remaining four teams", Arena said. "We'll bounce back, forget about it and move forward". "We still have three games left in the competition". "We lost to a team that played better than us tonight".

Panama is probably going to win its next match, Tuesday at home against T&T, which would get the Panamanians to 10 points.

"It puts more pressure on us, but we're still right in the thick of it", Howard said. We're not able to get this game back.

Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the US national team for ESPN FC.



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