Action from the World Cup qualifier between the visiting USA and host Costa Rica (red jersey) on November 15, 2016, in San Jose. (Photo: John Dorton/isiphotos.com)
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica -- Costa Rica (2W-0D-0L, 6 points) improved to 9W-1D-0L in home World Cup qualifiers against the United States (0-0-2, 0), recording a 4-0 victory at the Estadio Nacional on Tuesday night.
Second-half substitute Joel Campbell (75’, 78’) struck two goals, while Johan Venegas and Christian Bolaños added one each for the Ticos.
The Central American champion moved into sole possession of first place in the final CONCACAF round, sitting two points ahead Mexico (1-1-0, 4) and Panama (1-1-0, 4), which played to a scoreless draw. The U.S. fell into last place, trailing fifth-place Trinidad & Tobago (0-0-2, 0) – a 2-0 loser at Honduras (1-0-1, 3) -- on goal difference (-4 to -5).
Venegas gave the host a 1-0 in the 43rd minute with second goal of the 2018 cycle. Midfielder Randall Azofeifa started the sequence by switching fields with a long pass to Bolaños in the left corner. U.S. defender Omar Gonzalez gave the Vancouver Whitecaps standout space, allowing him to loft a cross into the box that Venegas headed home from six yards at the near post past goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
It was all Costa Rica in the second half, striking three times within a eight-minute span.
In the 69th minute, Costa Rica capitalized on a turnover as midfielder Bryan Ruiz raced down the right flank to find Bolaños, who headed the ball home from six-yards out for his second goal in as many WCQs.
Campbell replaced Venegas in the 66th minute and took center stage eight minutes later, drilling in a 10-yard shot to make it 3-0.
The final score was punctuated in the 77th minute, when defender Ronald Matarrita sent a ball over the U.S. defense for Campbell to slot past Guzan.
Costa Rica next visits Mexico on March 24, while the U.S. hosts Honduras.
NOTES: It was the most goals surrendered by the U.S. in a WCQ since a 4-2 loss to Canada on October 13, 1968 … After accruing their second yellow cards, U.S. defender Timothy Chandler and midfielder Jermaine Jones must sit out the next qualifier at home against Honduras on March 24.