Johnny Acosta and Celso Borges scored as Costa Rica burst ahead in the first 9 minutes, Joel Campbell added a goal on a late counterattack, and the Ticos beat the visiting United States, 3-1, in a World Cup qualifier Friday night at San Jose.
The Seattle Sounders’ Clint Dempsey, making his 100th international appearance, converted a penalty kick in the 43rd minute for the U.S. and nearly tied it with a 20-yard shot off a post in the 60th minute.
Avenging a March loss to the U.S. in a Colorado snow storm, Costa Rica ended the Americans’ team-record 12-game winning streak — three short of the world mark set by Spain.
“We were a little careless early in the game,” Landon Donovan said after his first World Cup qualifier in 15 months. “We’ve got to do better, clearly.”
The Ticos (4-1-2) moved into first place in the final round of qualifying in North and Central America and the Caribbean with 14 points, one ahead of the U.S. (4-2-1) with three games remaining. Honduras (3-3-1) is third with 10 points after a shocking 2-1 win at Mexico (1-2-5), which is fourth with eight points. Panama (1-1-4) is another point back after behind held to a 0-0 tie at home by last-place Jamaica (0-4-3).
The top three nations qualify for next year’s 32-team field in Brazil, and the fourth-place finisher goes to a playoff against New Zealand for another berth.
Despite dropping to 0-8-2 in Costa Rica, the Americans could clinch their seventh straight World Cup berth when they host Mexico on Tuesday night in Columbus, Ohio. Jozy Altidore, Geoff Cameron, Matt Besler will miss the match after getting their second yellow cards in qualifying — Altidore for a shove of Michael Umana in front of Mexican referee Marco Rodriguez during second-half injury time.
“It was absolutely not necessary,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “But it is what it is.”
Midfielder Michael Bradley also figures to miss the Mexico match. Originally in the starting lineup, Bradley limped off the field during warm-ups after spraining his left ankle and was on crutches at the bench during the game.
Dempsey became the 14th U.S. player to make 100 international appearances.