USA's Tim Howard (pictured) makes a save against visiting Mexico in a World Cup qualifier on November 11, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo: John Bacon/Straffon Images)
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The United States may have suffered more than just a 2-1 setback to visiting Mexico in a World Cup qualifier on Friday night.
The Americans not only dropped a home qualifier to the Tricolor for the first time in 34 years, they also lost starting goalkeeper Tim Howard, who was forced from the game with a strained groin in the 44th minute.
Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said that Howard, who was scheduled to have an MRI, could be sidelined for Tuesday's match at Costa Rica in San Jose. Middlesbrough’s Brad Guzan would most likely be the first choice to start, but Ethan Horvath (Molde/Norway) and William Yarbrough (Leon/Mexico) are also on the roster.
It was the first time in five matches at MAPFRE Stadium that the USA lost to the Mexicans, the previous four results were 2-0 wins. The Americans hadn’t dropped a home qualifier since a 3-2 defeat to Honduras in 2001, a span of 30 games.
The defeat meant that the U.S. will be looking to bounce back with a win Tuesday at Costa Rica, where it has never won a qualifier (0W-1D-8L).
“We have got to go down there and get a result, which we will do,” said U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “Obviously Mexico is the biggest one we play. It’s not a problem, but obviously, it’s disappointing, no doubt about it.
"It gives us a sense of anger, a sense of urgency."
The Americans demonstrated that sense of urgency in the second half on Friday.
Klinsmann initially deployed a 3-5-2 formation in the opening half, during which Mexico grabbed a 1-0 advantage. Resorting to a 4-4-2 shape after the break, the U.S. pushed forward to net an equalizer, only to lose on an 89th-minute goal by Rafael Marquez.
The experiment worked well in training, not so well under actual game conditions.
"I would not say we were not comfortable with it," midfielder Jermaine Jones said. "Sometimes you have to try something. But then in the second half, I think you saw that we were on their toes and we almost scored the second."