Sun, Sep 04, 2011 - Page 18 News List

Costa Rica topple US in friendly

AFP, LOS ANGELES

The US’ Brek Shea, left, battles for the ball against Costa Rica’s Carlos Johnson during their international friendly in Carson, California, on Friday.

Photo: Reuters

A Rodney Wallace header in the 65th minute gave Costa Rica a shock 1-0 victory over the US in a friendly on Friday, handing new US coach Jurgen Klinsmann his first defeat.

Klinsmann, the former German international striker and coach who took over the US side on July 29, is still seeking his first victory with the US, after drawing 1-1 last month with Mexico in Philadelphia in his debut match.

“For sure you’re not happy with the result, but I am happy with the performance,” Klinsmann said. “The players did what I wanted to do. We had our chances in the first half. Overall a very good performance. Unfortunately there wasn’t a goal.”

Klinsmann will hope his third try is charmed when he again tries for his first triumph as US coach when the US play against Belgium in Brussels on Tuesday.

US troubles with Costa Rica did not begin with Klinsmann. The US are winless in their past five meetings with the Ticos and fell behind 12-11 with six drawn in their all-time rivalry with the latest defeat.

Wallace, a 23-year-old midfielder for the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer, scored less than five minutes after coming on as a substitute for his international debut.

Real Salt Lake forward Alvaro Saborio took the ball deep down the right side for Costa Rica, then crossed for Michael Barrantes, whose left-foot shot deflected off the left arm of US goalkeeper Tim Howard.

The rebound came to Wallace, who opened his international account with a diving header from 6m out.

The US pressed in vain for the equalizer, with play becoming more and more physical, starting forward Brek Shea and substitute Sacha Kljestan being issued yellow cards in the 78th and 79th minutes, respectively.

The victory was a strong sendoff for Costa Rica interim coach Ronald Gonzalez before Colombian Jorge Luis Pinto takes over the team next month.

Klinsmann, 47, wanted to see how well such talents as Jozy Altidore and Landon Donovan combined and press home his desire for an aggressive style.

Donovan nearly delivered it in the seventh minute, his shot going just wide of the near post after a charge to the right from inside the penalty area, the misfire leaving the Los Angeles Galaxy striker with his head in his hands.

The Ticos only managed their first shots in first-half stoppage time, but forced two saves from Howard before the end of a scoreless first half.

Altidore was offside just inside the area in the 55th minute to thwart a US attack, while Costa Rica’s Randall Brenes was denied by Howard from inside the area in the 59th, two minutes before he was yanked for eventual hero Wallace.

Klinsmann made a subtle, but meaningful change, by having the US play in jerseys numbered 1 to 11 with no player names on the back, the basic-looking red attire a departure from recent tradition.

Spain 3, Chile 2

AFP, ST GALLEN, Switzerland

Second-half substitute Cesc Fabregas scored twice as reigning European and world champions Spain fought back from two goals down to beat Chile 3-2 in a friendly in St Gallen on Friday.

Vicente Del Bosque’s side were punished for a slow start as Chile raced into a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Mauricio Isla and Eduardo Vargas, but the introduction of Andres Iniesta at halftime reinvigorated the Spain midfield.

Within nine minutes the Barcelona man had pulled a goal back and it was his pass that allowed fellow substitute Fabregas to level the scores with 20 minutes remaining.

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