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Americans take long way to San Jose to play Costa Rica.

Players need to impress Arena in Costa Rica qualifier.

Arena selects roster for qualifier in Costa Rica.

New U.S. lineup produces lackluster 0-0 draw with Guatemala.

With dominant effort, U.S. dumps Mexico and qualifies for World Cup.

Wasted chances don't stop U.S. from defeating T&T, nearing World Cup berth.

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  • Arena saw little to please him in Costa Rica loss.

    U.S. men

    Costa Rica earns World Cup berth, blanking Americans 3-0.

    SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (Saturday, October 8, 2005) -- The math was simple. With a victory, Costa Rica would join the United States and Mexico as part of the 2006 World Cup Field.

    Costa Rica (5-3-1, 16 points) accomplished its World Cup entrance in emphatic form, using a first-half goal by striker Paulo Wanchope and a pair of tallies after intermission by reserve forward Carlos Hernandez to drop the U.S. 3-0 in a CONCACAF qualifier before a sold-out crowd of 30,000 at Estadio Ricardo Saprissa tonight..

    The Americans (6-2-1, 19) were handed their first three-goal defeat in World Cup qualifying since a 5-1 loss to Mexico in November 1980. The last time the U.S. lost by three goals in any competition was a 4-1 setback to Denmark January 22, 1997, in the Gold Cup.

    Wanchope's goal ended a U.S. qualifying shutout streak that dated back to a 2-1 defeat to Mexico March 27 in Mexico City.

    "Costa Rica deserved to qualify for the World Cup," said U.S. manager Bruce Arena who suffered his first three-goal defeat in 115 games at the helm. "I thought for large segments of the game, play was even. In the first half, we had the better of the chances."

    Also tonight, Mexico (7-1-1, 22) took over first place in the CONCACAF final round robin with a 5-2 rout of visiting Guatemala (2-5-2, 8). Trinidad & Tobago (3-5-1, 10) edged Panama (0-7-2, 2) by a 1-0 score.

    While CONCACAF'S three automatic berths have been decided, the fourth-place team will enter a two-match playoff with Asia's fifth-place finisher (Uzbekistan or Bahrain) for another Cup berth. With a two-point lead, Trinidad can advance to the playoff if it wins Wednesday at home against Mexico or if Guatemala loses to visiting Costa Rica. Guatemala would advance if it wins and Trinidad ties or loses.

    With World Cup participation secured, Arena employed a patchwork lineup, combining regulars with players trying to prove they belong on the roster that will go to Germany 2006. Most noticeable absent were goalkeeper Kasey Keller, midfielder Claudio Reyna, midfielder-striker Landon Donovan and forward Brian McBride.

    "Some mistakes were made that more experienced players would not have made but, overall, I accomplished the objective of watching certain combinations of players play together," Arena said.

    The U.S. is 31-8-11 (.730) since completing its run to the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup with the Americans posting 28 shutout in those 50 matches. The U.S. is 11-10-4 all-time against the Ticos, but 0-6-1 in qualifiers in Costa Rica.

    The Ticos thrilled their home crowd, which braved torrential rain, in the 34th minute when a great through ball found striker Alvaro Saborio streaking into the right side of the penalty area, bringing his marker with him. Saborio lunged and triggered a shot that goalkeeper Tim Howard stopped with a touch save as he dove to his right. Wanchope slid in with his foot to beat Howard to the rebound which rolled into the net for a 1-0 lead.

    Wanchope became the all-time Costa Rican leading goal-scorer with his 43rd in 66 international appearances.

    The U.S. appeared to level the score at 1-1 in the 39th minute after midfielder Bobby Convey drew a foul at the top left corner of the box. Midfielder Eddie Lewis sent the free kick to the back post where defender Eddie Pope headed the ball across the-six yard box. There, the ball hit the chest of Ticos midfielder Walter Centeno and fell right to the foot of U.S. striker Taylor Twellman who tapped the ball into the net at the left post, but he was flagged for being offside.

    Hernandez came on as a sub in the 59th minute and immediately put his stamp on the match with a 20-yard strike a minute later. Midfielder Ronald Gomez fed the ball to Hernandez five yards above the penalty area where he turned past American midfielder DaMarcus Beasley who was late in his effort to intercept the pass. With no one between him and goal, Hernandez took a pair of touches before drilling the ball off the inside of the left post and into the goal to make it 2-0.

    In the 79th minute, Twellman again nearly struck for his first U.S. goal. Convey played an in-swinging corner kick that found the striker unmarked at the top of the six-yard box. Twellman headed the ball down on goal, but Ticos defender Jervis Drummond was in the right place to clear the ball off the goal-line.

    Hernandez made it 3-0 in the 88th minute when he nailed a volley into the top left corner of the net after being first to U.S. defender Oguchi Onyewu's headed clearance of defender Gilberto Martinez's free kick.

    U.S. defender Carlos Bocanegra and midfielder Eddie Lewis picked up yellow cards in the second half and will serve suspensions Wednesday when the U.S. completes the final round of qualifying by facing Panama at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., an 8 p.m. (ET) match that will be televised by ESPN2.

    Onyewu was also booked for the U.S.

    Howard returned for the U.S. after a 13-month hiatus and started for the U.S. in his second World Cup qualifying appearance. Pope moved up into a tie with Renya for second place on the U.S. list of all-time Cup qualifying appearances with 31, one behind Keller.


    Costa Rica 3, United States 0

    Lineups: Costa Rica - Jose Porras, Luis Marin (captain), Gilberto Martinez, Jervis Drummond, Leonardo Gonzalez, Mauricio Solis (Douglas Sequiera 59), Walter Centeno, Ronald Gomez, Harold Wallace, Alvaro Saborio (Carlos Hernandez 59), Paulo Wanchope (Winston Parks 76). United States - Tim Howard, Oguchi Onyewu, Eddie Pope, Carlos Bocanegra (Kyle Martino 75), Chris Albright (Santino Quaranta 63), Pablo Mastroeni, Eddie Lewis (captain), DaMarcus Beasley, Bobby Convey, Taylor Twellman, Brian Ching.

    Scoring:
    Costa Rica - Wanchope (Saborio) 34.
    Costa Rica - Hernandez (Gomez) 60.
    Costa Rica - Hernandez (unassisted) 88.

    Shots: Costa Rica 10, United States 10. Saves: Costa Rica 1, United States 2. Corner kicks: Costa Rica 5, United States 8. Fouls: Costa Rica 18, United Statew 20. Offside: Costa Rica 3, United States 3. Yellow card cautions: Costa Rica - Solis 35, Porras 68, Wanchope 74. United States - Bocanegra 51, Onyewu 54, Lewis 71.

    Referee: Benito Archundia (Mexico). Assistant referees: Jose Ramirez (Mexico), Leon Rebollar (Mexico). Attendance: 30,000 (sellout) at Estadio Ricardo Saprissa in San Jose, Costa Rica. Weather: 67 degrees, torrential rain.

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