The United States entered their match against Costa Rica on Tuesday with very high stakes. A loss would mean an incredibly disappointing exit from the 2016 Copa America—as well as the end of the Jurgen Klinsmann Era—a draw would necessitate help from the rest of the group in order to stay alive, and a win would put them in pole position to advance, depending on the result of the Colombia-Paraguay match.
Basically, it was a must-win. It appeared that they knew that.
The US dominated their Central American rivals to the tune of 4-0, with Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones, Bobby Wood and Graham Zusi putting goals on the board and Klinsmann keeping his managerial job safe for the time being.
Costa Rica started out hot, pouring early pressure on the Americans and forcing a couple crucial turnovers, but when Wood drew a pretty obvious penalty kick and Dempsey finished it in the eighth-minute, Los Ticos seemed to have the wind taken out of their sails. Immediately, the US got out on the front foot and began to look like the better team. In the 37th-minute, they made it 2-0 courtesy of Jones, whose curler off a pass from Dempsey beat goalkeeper Patrick Pemberton to the far post.
Just five minutes later, Wood put the game out of reach for the Costa Ricans, who were without starting center back Kendall Waston after a red card on Saturday. The newly-signed Hamburg man slotted home a shot from the top of the box and set the red, white and blue crowd into a frenzy, sending the US into the locker room happy.
They didn't look quite as good in the second half, but Los Ticos failed to make much of an effort on Brad Guzan's goal, so they were able to see it out fairly easily. Zusi, who came on as a substitute for Wood, picked up an insurance goal in the 87th-minute to secure an important US result.
You can read my takes on the game at some point tomorrow. In the meantime, the US sit top of Group A (still pending the result of the Colombia-Paraguay match) and they look likely to go through.