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Dempsey leads USA to must-win victory over Costa Rica

USMNT forward Bobby Wood drives through the Costa Rican defense as the USA side defeated Costa Rica 4-0 in Copa America Centenario Group A. Wood scored a goal in the 42nd minute to put the game out of reach. (Photo by Carmen Salerno)

The USMNT needed a win and got a good one with 4-0 shutout victory over Costa Rica in the Copa America Centenario Group A on Tuesday in Soldier Field. Lead by the inspired play of Clint Dempsey, who figured in on the first three USA goals, Jermaine Jones and Bobby Wood, the USA team moves on to play Paraguay in Philadelphia on Friday with a good chance to earn a spot in the knockout round of the Copa America.

Coming off a bad shutout loss to Columbia in the first game of group play, the USA team bounced back with a solid game.

“It’s important that the team knows where they stand,” said USA Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “They felt they were even with Columbia. Today certain things didn’t go perfectly, but we manage to get the goals. I think we are in the driver’s seat to get through this most difficult group … It’s encouraging to see that this group has this extreme hunger now to make things happen against the best teams in the world.”

Costa Rica’s Christian Gamboa made bad judgment pushing down Wood in the penalty area. Referee R. Zambrano Olmedo awarded the USA side a penalty kick. Dempsey put the ball in the back of the net past goalkeeper Patrick Pemberton to give the USA a 1-0 lead after nine minutes of play.

“It didn’t change the game for us,” said Costa Rica midfielder Bryan Ruiz. “We kept playing the game. There was a moment when I thought we were going to score to make it one-one but the ball didn’t go our way. We made another mistake and they made it two-zero and five minutes later another mistake and it was three-zero. Then it was game over.”

Dempsey worked a give-and-go with Jones, who scored in the 37th minute and five minutes later Dempsey again dazzled the Costa Rican defense to set up Wood coming in on the left to make it 3-0.

“We know how good (Dempsey) is when he returns in a counterattack,” said Ruiz. “He did good today. We just didn’t mark him well.”

Graham Zusi finished off the scoring with a goal in the 87th minute.

“We got an early goal and got off to a good start,” said Dempsey. “Then did a good job of attacking and creating good chances with good looks in front of the goal and finished our chances. We got a clean sheet so it was a good night.”

When asked what was different in this game from the loss to Columbia, goalkeeper Brad Guzan had a simple analysis.

“Goals change games,” he said.

BOX SCORE

Lineups

United States: Brad Guzan (GK), DeAndre Yedlin, Michael Bradley (Capt.), John Brooks, Bobby Wood (Graham Zusi 70′), Clint Dempsey (Chris Wondolowski 78′), Gyasi Zardes, Alejandro Bedoya (Kyle Beckerman 83′), Jermaine Jones, Geoff Cameron, Fabian Johnson.

Costa Rica: Patrick Pemberton (GK), Johnny Acosta, Francisco Calvo, Celso Borges, Oscar Duarte, Christian Bolanos, Bryan Ruiz (Capt.), Joel Campbell (Randall Azofeita 46′), Christian Gamboa (Jose Salvatierra 46′), Marcos Urena (Alvaro Saborio 18′), Ronald Matarrita.

Scoring Summary

USA: Dempsey (penalty kick) 9′
USA: Jones (Dempsey)37′
USA: Wood (Dempsey) 42′
USA: Zusi 87′

Attendance: 39,642

SCOREBOARD

Mon., June 6
Group D
Panama 2-1 Bolivia, Panama goals by Blas Perez ( 11′ and 87′), and Bolivia goal by Juan Arce (54′)
Argentina 2-1 Chile, Argentina goals by Angel DiMaria (51′), Ever Banega (59′), and Chile goals by Jose Fuenzalida (90+3′)

Tues., June 7
Group A
USA 4-0 Costa Rica, USA goals by Clint Dempsey (9′), Jermaine Jones (37′), Bobby Wood (42′), Graham Zusi (87′)
Columbia 2-1 Paraguay, Columbia goals by Carlos Baca (12′), James Rodriguez (30′), and Paraguay goal by Victor Ayala (71′)

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