starting in his 12th consecutive qualifier -- put the U.S. in the lead early when he scored his fifth goal of the Red, White and Blue's qualifying run after just six minutes. He started the play by finding McBride open on the right wing and the former Columbus Crew striker played a low cross into the box that was poked away by a defender. The 23-year-old Donovan punished the visitors for their poor clearance with a thunderous strike that was well out of the reach of the goalkeeper and high in the top corner of the net.
Defender Carlos Bocanegra nearly doubled the advantage on a play very similar to the one that led to Clint Dempsey's goal vs. England last week. A lofted ball over the top found the former Chicago Fire man drifting behind the defense. He tried to get his foot on the pass with a sliding effort, but it was just out of reach and Costa Rican goalkeeper Álvaro Mesén made the save. Bocanegra had a second chance to find the net later in the half, but his header from close range went over the bar.
Kansas City Wizards forward Josh Wolff nearly scored for the U.S. in the 35th minute. He was sent in alone on goal after a giveaway by the Costa Rican defense, but Mesén smothered his low shot.
Douglas Sequiera, who plays his club soccer with Chivas USA, almost tied the match three minutes later, but his powerful volley sailed wide of Keller's left post. Two minutes thereafter Costa Rica thought they had tied the game. Alonso Solis put the ball past Keller after a free kick, but the referee's assistant correctly ruled that Solis was in an offside position and the half ended with the U.S. on top.
The second half started with a flurry of activity, both sides narrowly missing on several goal-scoring opportunities. First Keller kept the U.S. in front with a great diving safe, denying Jafet Soto. Donovan burst down the right wing seconds later on a counterattack, but his cross was just out of the reach of New England Revolution winger Steve Ralston, who fired into the side netting. Oscar Rojas and Solis also had chances, but again Keller was on hand to prevent catastrophe.
Donovan's second goal of the day finally gave the U.S. some breathing room in the 62nd minute. Wolff whipped in a dangerous cross from the right wing that McBride bravely dived to meet. His redirection was deflected away by Mesén but Donovan was at the back door to finish easily into the open net. Keller made yet another point blank save on Sequiera seven minutes later, getting down quickly to again deny the Costa Ricans.
McBride put the game out of reach three minutes before the final whistle when he scored on yet another rebound. Donovan cut towards Costa Rica's box from the left wing and dumped a pass off to substitute Dempsey. The New England Revolution attacker was unable to score his second goal in as many games, but his shot resulted in a deflection that McBride coolly volleyed into the net.
Bruce Arena's squad will take to the road to face Panama in a crucial away qualifier Wednesday, with kickoff scheduled for 9:30 p.m. CT. That match can be seen tape delayed on Telemundo at 11:30 p.m. ET/PT or at 1 a.m. ET on ESPN2. Panama lost on the road to Trinidad & Tobago by a 2-0 score on Saturday.
Jonathan Nierman is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.