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Photo/story courtesy of US Soccer

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (Nov. 15, 2016) – The U.S. Men’s National Team battled through a physical and feisty match but ultimately succumbed to a 4-0 defeat to Costa Rica in its first away qualifier of the Final Round of 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying.

An even first half saw both teams carve out chances, but it was Costa Rica forward Johan Venegas whose header broke the deadlock in the 44th minute. The USA came out in the second frame looking for the equalizer, but as they pushed forward, Costa Rica was able to take advantage on multiple occasions. Bolaños finished in the 68th minute before substitute Joel Campbell grabbed a brace in the 74th and 78th to cement victory for the home side before a sold-out crowd of 35,400 at Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica.

The defeat brings a tough end to 2016 for the USA (12-6-1), which finished fourth at Copa American Centenario and finished atop its Semifinal Round World Cup Qualifying group to advance to the Hex.

Goal Scoring Rundown:
CRC – Johan Venegas (Christian Bolaños), 44th minute: After an even first half, Costa Rica broke through just before the break. Randall Azofeifa played a looping ball over the top that Bolaños chased down in the left corner. With space to work, he held up before sending a pinpoint cross for Johan Venegas. The Montreal Impact attacker met the ball at the near post, where he directed a header down past Brad Guzan into the center of the goal. CRC 1, USA 0 [WATCH]

CRC – Christian Bolaños (Bryan Ruiz), 68th minute: Costa Rica gained their second goal when Bryan Ruiz slipped down the right before centering an outside of the foot cross for Venegas, whose powerful header was partially saved by Guzan before sneaking over the goal line. CRC 2, USA 0

CRC – Joel Campbell, 74th minute: A looping ball over the top saw John Brooks misplay the bounce straight into the path of substitute Joel Campbell. The attacker slid past Brooks to go in alone on goal, where he slotted the ball inside the left post. CRC 3, USA 0

CRC – Joel Campbell (Ronald Matarrita), 78th minute: Ronald Matarrita lobbed a ball forward out of midfield which saw Campbell time his run to beat the offside trap. In alone, he once again finished low inside the left post. CRC 4, USA 0 FINAL

Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
USA – Brad Guzan, 7th minute: After a boisterous opening few minutes, Costa Rica grabbed the first chance of the match when Johan Venegas slipped into the box on the left and tapped the ball through the legs of John Brooks before hitting a quick strike that Brad Guzan came well off his line to turn away with a kick save.

USA – Brad Guzan, 14th minute: Costa Rica threatened again seven minutes later when Christian Bolaños’ ball over the top picked out Bryan Ruiz in stride. With his back to the goal, the veteran attacker chested the ball down before letting lose a half-bicycle kick that struck Guzan in the face as he hovered off his line.

CRC – Keylor Navas, 28 minute: After the USA won the ball at midfield, Jozy Altidore began a run up the left that saw the veteran forward combined with Christian Pulisic at the top of the area. The Borussia Dortmund youngster played along the top of the box before sliding a pass for Fabian Johnson who hit a slightly deflected, low blast that Ticos goalkeeper Keylor Navas did well to get down to for the save.

USA – Brad Guzan, 57th minute: A quick drop kick from Navas saw Venegas get into a foot race with Timmy Chandler. As they chased down the ball in the USA penalty area, Venegas came away with the ball and let off a quick shot that Guzan charged off his line to turn away with a kick save.

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