For the second time in 2016, the US men's national team lost 4-0. Except this time it wasn't with a depleted squad against the genius of Lionel Messi and the almost irresistible attack of Argentina. This time, rather, it was against a disciplined yet unspectacular Costa Rica team. This time the Yanks were at close to full strength. This time there was no opposing genius flitting through the US lines, just an opposition XI working together as one.
And this time it wasn't in the semifinals of the Copa America, a game that the US played with house money – they'd already made it as far as could've been expected, right?
No, this time was in the crucible of World Cup qualification. This time it came in the aftermath of the USMNT's first-ever loss in Columbus, and the first home loss to Mexico since 1972. This time it was 4-0 against a Costa Rican side that the US had pounded by that exact same scoreline this summer.
And this time there was nobody playing with house money. For the US, it looked at times like there was nobody playing at all:
I can find nothing in that sentiment to disagree with.
I can also find almost nothing in the game to analyze. Jurgen Klinsmann will no doubt talk about lost challenges, and to be fair Montreal Impact reserve Johan Venegas repeatedly took John Brooks to the cleaners, while Whitecaps midfielder Christian Bolanos did the same to Timothy Chandler any time there was a 1v1 (just let's marinate in that reality a little bit, shall we?).
Ah sure, here's a highlight:
Costa Rica are, as I said, an unspectacular team. But they're well-coached, and they knew what they wanted to do: Bury the ball down in that right corner and isolate against left back Matt Besler (who's not a left back), which would then pull the whole US backline apart, while forcing the midfield deeper.
And so they did it, and it all transpired according to their design, and Klinsmann never adjusted, and the players never rose to the challenge.
And now the US are 0-2-0 to start the Hexagonal, and sit dead last. The next game isn't until March, and there'll be plenty to think about, talk about, and maybe – for once – plan for in the intervening months.
A few more things to ponder...
5. The US under Klinsmann are pathologically averse to building through central midfield:
Jones/Bradley *attempted* 32 passes between them in the first half.— Will Parchman (@WillParchman) November 16, 2016
*puts on Chopin, swishes wine*
This, friends, is how you proactive.
4. I don't, for the life of me, understand taking Christian Pulisic off with the score at 2-0 Costa Rica and 20 minutes left. Pulisic wasn't great but he certainly looked the likeliest of any Yank to create a goal.
3. Jones had perhaps his worst game in Red, White and Blue. It's not surprising given his fitness – he missed four months, then played 84 minutes 10 days ago, played 90 minutes on Friday, and was moving like he had to drag an elephant carcass around with him through his 71 minutes on Tuesday.
Roster management has never been Klinsmann's strong suit, and neither has workload management.
2. At least Lynden Gooch is cap-tied. I'm still not sold on him being an international level player, but we should get the chance to find out.
1. And here's what the hole we're in looks like:
Teams to lose their first two Hex games:— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) November 16, 2016
2006 T&T (qualified!)
Bad company. But it's been done before, and it can be done again.
If not, the butcher's bill will be failure to qualify for Russia 2018 and an entire World Cup cycle punted into the ether.