2014 World Cup: US and Costa Rica clinch World Cup spots in qualifiers


Thu, Sep 12, 2013 - Page 20

The US and Costa Rica punched their tickets to the World Cup with a victory and a draw in CONCACAF regional qualifying on Tuesday.

The US advanced by beating Mexico 2-0, while Costa Rica booked their spot after drawing 1-1 with Jamaica.

The qualifications were confirmed after Panama drew 2-2 with Honduras later on Tuesday.

Goals from Eddie Johnson and Landon Donovan fired the US to victory over their fierce regional rivals.

“It is pretty special,” Donovan said. “I am proud of this team and proud of the hard work. Everyone deserves it so much.”

It is the seventh straight World Cup finals appearance for the US, stretching back to 1990.

The win propelled the US to the top of the qualifying table with 16 points, one ahead of Costa Rica.

Honduras are third with 11 points, while Panama sit fourth ahead of Mexico based on their better goals scored differential. They both have eight points, while Jamaica are sixth with four points.

Johnson broke the deadlock in the 49th minute with a header, before Donovan doubled the lead in the 78th from close range in front of a crowd of 24,584 at Columbus Crew Stadium.

“It was a tense game and a lot was at stake, but everybody was so hungry for this win,” US coach Jurgen Klinsmann said.

US goalkeeper Tim Howard made a pair of key saves in the first half to keep the match scoreless, before Johnson headed home a Donovan corner just four minutes into the second half.

“In the second half, we were fantastic,” Howard said. “We knew we were going to create chances and we did.”

The US were missing four key players, including midfielder Michael Bradley who sat out with an ankle injury. Three others were serving suspensions after picking up cautions in Friday’s defeat to Costa Rica.

Clint Dempsey missed a kick in the dying seconds that could have made it 3-0.

The result stretches the US’ unbeaten streak at home in World Cup qualifiers to 26 games, while Mexico have lost two straight in qualification.

The top three CONCACAF nations qualify for next year’s 32-nation event in Brazil. The fourth-place finisher will end up in a playoff with New Zealand.

The loss puts Mexico in a precarious position as they face a must-win game against Panama on Oct. 11.

Mexico were playing their first game since former Mexican coach Chepo de la Torre was replaced by Luis Fernando Tena following Friday’s 2-1 defeat to Honduras at Azteca Stadium.

In the Costa Rica contest, Randall Brenes opened the scoring in the 75th minute to give Costa Rica a 1-0 lead, before Jermaine Anderson tied it for Jamaica in stoppage time.