(Reuters) - The United States’ 12-game winning run came to a crushing end with a 3-1 defeat at Costa Rica on Friday in their CONCACAF region World Cup qualifier.
United States coach Juergen Klinsmann suffered a blow shortly before the game when key midfielder Michael Bradley limped off the field with an ankle injury during the warm-up and Geoff Cameron had to be thrust into the starting lineup.
Then Costa Rica grabbed the lead in the third minute when Johnny Acosta headed in a corner at the near post past DaMarcus Beasley on the line.
Seven minutes later it was 2-0 - Cristian Bolanos floated a ball towards the back post and Celso Borges rose superbly above Beasley to head home.
The game should have been put beyond the Americans in the 24th minute when Brian Ruiz put in Bolanos but the midfielder hesitated and his shot was deflected wide.
Costa Rica keeper Keilor Navas was brought into action in the 29th minute when he pulled off a great save to keep out a fierce drive from Fabian Johnson.
At the other end, U.S. keeper Tim Howard was out quickly at the feet of the livewire Joel Campbell but the Americans got a lifeline two minutes before the interval.
Johnson was brought down inside the area by Navas, who had charged off his line and Clint Dempsey, earning his 100th cap for his country, blasted home the spot kick.
Klinsmann’s team started the second half well, Landon Donovan finding Dempsey, who wriggled on to his left foot and fired a left-foot shot against the post.
But Campbell made sure of three vital points for Costa Rica, racing on to a long ball, outpacing Matt Besler and slipping the ball between Howard’s legs.
A bad night for the Americans was made worse by yellow cards for Cameron, Besler and substitute Jozy Altidore - all of whom will now miss Tuesday’s clash with Mexico in Columbus.
Reporting By Simon Evans; Editing by Ian Ransom