Christian Bolanos

AP Photo/Moises Castillo

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

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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.

[ WATCH LIVE: USMNT-Costa Rica (Spanish) ]

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.

[ MORE: Messi, Argentina team to boycott media ]

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.

MLS Snapshot: Vancouver Whitecaps 1-1 Sporting KC (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): The good news for Sporting Kansas City: their three-game losing streak is no more after Wednesday night’s 1-1 draw away to the Vancouver Whitecaps. The bad news: they’re still won only one of 12 points possible over the last three weeks. More good news: Wednesday’s result came courtesy of a largely-changed starting lineup that saw six regulars either rested from the start or miss the game altogether through injury. More bad news: they had a man advantage for 90 percent of the second half and we forced to settle for only a point. Even more good news: with that point, the Whitecaps didn’t leapfrog Sporting for the sixth and final playoff place in the Western Conference (yes, it’s still early). Even more bad news: actually, there’s probably no more bad news. Opinion: they’ll be back to their very best once Soni Mustivar returns from injury.

[ MORE: Monday’s MLS Rewind column  ]

Three moments that mattered

14′ — Bolaños finishes from a corner kick for 1-0 — Clever and impressive finish from Christian Bolaños, to be sure, but where are the Sporting defenders?

27′ — Rubio poaches his first MLS goal for 1-1 — Lawrence Olum is a pure, natural no. 10 playing through balls like this, isn’t he?

51′ — Waston goes through Rubio, sees a second yellow — A more obvious yellow card, the world has never seen.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Nuno Andre Coelho

Goalscorers: Bolaños (14′), Rubio (27′)

New York’s Zubar, Vancouver’s Bolanos suspended by MLS

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NEW YORK (AP) New York Red Bulls defender Ronald Zubar and Vancouver Whitecaps defender Christian Bolanos have been suspended for one game each and fined undisclosed amounts for rough play.

The MLS Disciplinary Committee announced the sanctions Thursday.

[ HIDDINK: Chelsea entering “transitional period” after UCL exit ]

Zubar was penalized for a serious foul play that endangered the safety of an opponent in the 47th minute of the Red Bulls’ 2-0 season-opening loss to Toronto FC on Sunday. Bolanos also was sanctioned for a serious foul play in the 62nd minute of the Whitecaps’ 3-2 loss to Montreal on Sunday.

Also, New York City FC defender Frederic Brillant was fined an undisclosed amount for violating the league’s policy of hands to the face, head or neck of an opponent in the 52nd minute Sunday in a 4-3 victory over Chicago. The league rescinded Houston Dynamo coach Owen Coyle’s dismissal late in a 3-3 tie against New England on Sunday, making him eligible to coach against FC Dallas on Saturday.

Vancouver continues to bolster attack with World Cup veteran Bolanos

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Major League Soccer’s stingiest defensive team is adding more and power potency to its attack.

Vancouver has already added Japanese star Masato Kudo, while making a loan move for Honduran attacker Deybi Flores permanent through the transfer market.

[ MORE: Feilhaber speaks out on USMNT omission ]

This after scooping up prolific Division II attacker Chris Hellman, Washington midfielder James Moberg, and big Princeton striker Thomas Sanner in the MLS SuperDraft.

And now they’ve signed two-time World Cup veteran Christian Bolanos, 31, who shares the same heritage as Costa Rican ‘Caps call-ups Kendall Waston and Jordan Smith.

From WhitecapsFC.com:

“Christian is a proven winner,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson. “He’s a player we’ve coveted for a while and we’re delighted to add his wealth of experience to our club. Christian is a natural winger and we expect him to complement our young attacking players very well.”

Depth in attack will be as important as ever for the ‘Caps, who are looking to improve on a second-place finish in the West and a group stage ouster in the CONCACAF Champions League.

Has Bolanos lost his fastball since leaving Copenhagen in 2014? It’s possible, but Bolanos has done fine in Saprissa and continues to receive Los Ticos call-ups. He could be another shrewd Vancouver signing.

Game on: Lineups and talking points as Costa Rica takes aim at Italy

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Italy and Costa Rica are set to clash for Group D supremacy at Noon ET, but how much of a chance the CONCACAF nation stands of upsetting one of the world’s all-time powers is being discussed around the world.

Jose Mourinho says another Costa Rican upset is not on the cards, much to the consternation of admiring CRC coach Jorge Luis Pinto.

[ MORE: Italy tops England | Costa Rica surprises Uruguay]
[ MORE Soccerly: Preview | Follow Live]

LINEUPS:

Italy — Buffon; Abate, Barzagli, Chiellini, Darmian; De Rossi; Candreva, Pirlo, Thiago Motta, Marchisio; Balotelli

Costa Rica — Navas, Gonzalez, Omana, Burgas, Duarte, Bolanos, Ruiz Diaz, Gamboa, Tejada, Campbell

Talking points

1. How will the weather affect Italy? Head coach Cesar Prandelli called the Manaus conditions “ridiculous” in Italia’s 2-1 win over England, but says it won’t be an excuse. Costa Rican midfielder Christian Bolanos:

“We have a lot of respect for them (Italy)… but we’ll hope to benefit from the heavy climate. We are used to playing in those kinds of temperatures.”

2. Can Costa Rica spring upset No. 2? The most simple of talking points seems to be the No. 1 thing daunting Los Ticos. Can Costa Rica really knock off Uruguay and Italy in consecutive matches? Stranger things have happened.

Expectation: Prolonged feeling-out periods.

One blogger’s prediction: Italy scores early, then stacks the gondolas en route to a 1-0 win.