Mexico beat Panama to qualify for 2018 World Cup

US hopes of reaching eighth straight World Cup berth in peril after loss to Costa Rica

The U.S. national team walked off the Red Bull Arena field stunned, bewildered and frustrated Friday night. One could argue that it was a game of moments - Marco Urena's goals; Keylor Navas' saves; the non-penalty call when Jozy Altidore appeared to be fouled by Kendall Waston - as opposed to tactics.

Worst-case scenario: Honduras and Panama win Tuesday, leaving the United States fifth and in need of help in the final set of matches. The last time the Costa Ricans defeated the Americans on their homeland came during a 1985 World Cup qualifier, with this win snapping a string of 17 straight defeats. They trail leaders Mexico by three points.

Seemingly back in stride after last winter's coaching change, the Americans were poor in the defensive end and inefficient in the attack in falling into a third-place tie with Honduras in CONCACAF's six-nation final round.

"[Pulisic] had a tough game today and obviously they paid a lot of attention to him", said Arena. The top three teams will qualify automatically, and the fourth-place team will go to a playoff against the fifth-place team in Asia-possibly Syria or Saudi Arabia at this point-for a spot in Russian Federation 2018.

Urena - in space between two defenders - received the ball and while he was shown the line by Ream and forced away from goal, he managed to beat Howard with a low shot across goal and into the far corner.

It was also a frustrating night for US midfielder Christian Pulisic, who missed several opportunities, and had a second half chance brilliantly saved by Navas.

Costa Rica are three points ahead of the Americans in second place. Altidore picked up a yellow card in the 80th minutes, his second of the tournament, and will miss Tuesday's game in Honduras as a result. At home, the Americans lost to Mexico 1: 2, after which they won two victories over Honduras 6: 0 and Trinidad and Tobago 2: 0. "If you don't do that, it's not likely that you can qualify for a World Cup". With Ream and Cameron split wide, Costa Rica captain Bryan Ruiz played a through ball to Urena - the United States claimed Ruiz handled the ball before passing.

"I was anxious about him slotting it to the near post", Howard said. The two looked precariously out of sync, especially in the run-up to Urena's first goal, as Cameron was way too far from Ream, allowing Ruiz to pick out Urena's run easily.

Going forward, the United States looked to counter quickly through Pulisic, but the teenager rarely had support.

"We've got to put this past us real quick", he said. The U.S. needed numbers to break down the Ticos' defense, and it almost worked on a number of occasions, but it also ultimately cost the Americans more than it helped them, with the lack of midfield support leaving Ream and Cameron overexposed time after time in crucial moments.

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