Ninety-four minutes of ugly play concluded with a beautiful header and eccentric celebrations Wednesday night when the USA scored late to tie Costa Rica at RFK Stadium in Washington DC. Jonathan Borenstein headed home the equalizer from a corner in the 95th minute. The tie clinched the USA 1st place in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying for South Africa 2010.
The game was by no means the Americans’ best, but the night was satisfying, knowing that the red, white, and blue confirmed themselves to be the top team in the CONCACAF region.
Here are the player ratings…
Jozy Altidore: 7.5… In lieu of his partner and off-field friend’s tragic accident earlier this week, Altidore came out Wednesday with a newfound vengeance. He sported a relentless work-rate, winning everything that came his way and fearlessly taking on defenders—but only for the first half hour. Altidore’s performance the first thirty was quite impressive, but he clearly needs to improve his fitness because his performance grew less significant as the night went on.
Conor Casey: 4… After a stellar performance Saturday, Casey suffered a bit of a career-night hangover against Costa Rica. Casey was lethargic and off-par throughout the night. He had the chance to open up scoring in the 11th minute when he met Keylan Nevers one-on-one. But the Colorado Rapids striker put his effort high and wide, setting the tone for a night themed by spurned American chances.
Landon Donovan: 7… Donovan fell under his teammates’ curse Wednesday night, also struggling to convert his own opportunities on goal. His shot on goal in the 71st minute, though, provoked the rebound that Michael Bradley subsequently finished for the Americans’ first goal.
Stuart Holden: 5… Relatively ineffective throughout the night. At times it seemed Holdon’s partnering outside back, Steve Cherundolo, made more forward runs than Holden, himself.
Michael Bradley: 7… Unlike Saturday, Bradley was able to expand the midfield and spread to either flank. His advances forward granted him the opportunity to send home the USA’s first goal.
Benny Feilhaber: 4.5… Couldn’t establish any rhythm in the midfield and was ineffective all night.
Steve Cherundolo: 5.5… Provided a decent spark coming forward. And defensively, he was not bad, primarily because the Costa Ricans never gave him much to deal with.
Oguchi Onyewu: 4… His lazy defending allowed Bryan Ruiz to open up the scoring from close range in the 20th minute. Onyewu tore his patella late in the game and is out for 3-4 months.
Carlos Bocanegra: 6.5… For the second night in a row, Bocanegra was solid in the center back role. The Americans kept most of the possession, however, and despite Bryan Ruiz’s two goals, neither of which were Bocanegra’s fault, he and his back line had a relatively easy outing.
Jonathan Borenstein: 7.5… A perfect goal and textbook header in stoppage time to tie the game. Off a corner, Borenstein located the ball, carefully weaved his way through the Costa Rican defense, and headed the service downward where no one could prevent it from going into the goal. Borenstein’s defensive work still needs some cleaning up, though.
Jose Torres: 7.5… Finally, Torres found a well-deserved chunk of playing time with the national squad. Unfortunately, though, the Mexican-American was put into an unfamiliar, less-attack-minded, central midfield role. Despite the position, Torres took advantage of the opportunity, demonstrating quick, efficient, mistake-free play.
Robbie Rogers: 7.5… Good effort from the Columbus Crew boy Wednesday night. His service from the right flank in the 71st minute led to Michael Bradley’s goal, and his work rate up and down the field was terrific.
Kenny Cooper: 5… Cooper was uninvolved with play and really failed to make an impact after coming on in the 78th minute.