AT HALF: Costa Rica holds deserved 1-0 lead over USMNT

AP Photo/Moises Castillo
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The home side has a deserved 1-0 lead through Johan Venegas, and Costa Rica has the USMNT on the ropes Tuesday in the second matchday of the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

Christian Bolanos (Vancouver Whitecaps) found Venegas (Montreal Impact) for an all-MLS opener just before halftime.

Costa Rica had a bevy of dangerous chances thanks to a wet pitch, questionable USMNT back play, and a lot of room given by the American center midfielders.

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Johan Venegas and John Brooks gave the game its first life after a spell of mostly American possession, as Venegas plowed into Brooks and stepped on his foot after an early long ball.

After a minute’s worth of chatter with the referees, the Yanks won a corner through Timmy Chandler. Brooks’ header wasn’t on goal, and Costa Rica keeper Keylor Navas claimed the next cross.

Brad Guzan received his first test when Venegas megged Brooks and tried to toe poke a shot past the keeper, but Guzan made the save and Brooks dealt with the ensuing corner.

Johnny Acosta held up Jozy Altidore, and the U.S. had a free kick from the left side, about 8 yards beyond the 18. Kendall Waston took Fabian Johnson’s free kick right in the face, and went down but stayed in the game.

Chandler scooped up a yellow card in the 11th minute, giving each side a caution. He won’t play against Honduras in March.

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Costa Rica was on the doorstep minutes later, as Guzan stopped Ruiz’s close-range bicycle kick with his face.

Waston then dropped Pulisic on the left edge of the 18, and Johnson’s right peg was in a very promising spot. His rip beat the two-man wall but curled over the goal.

Jones and Pulisic did pretty work down the left, and Navas gobbled up Wood’s slight deflection of Pulisic’s pass.

Jones will also miss Honduras after picking up a yellow in the 38th minute.

The Yanks could’ve led against the run of play when Wood torched the Costa Rican back line and sent a ball through the six that was absent receiver.

Then came the goal, as Omar Gonzalez allowed Bolanos to race onto a long pass and cross into the heart of the 18. That’s where Venegas headed past Guzan.