East Hartford, CT — The U.S. Men's National Team clinched first place in Group C of the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup with a 1-0 victory against Costa Rica at Rentschler Field. Midfielder Brek Shea, a late substitute who came on in the 77th minute, scored his first international goal off a breakaway with eight minutes left in regulation time.
The victory gave the USA eight wins in a row, setting an all-time record for consecutive wins for the U.S. Men's National Team.
The United States upped its record to 13-12-6 all-time against Costa Rica while ending the Ticos' shutout streak at 785 minutes. The last time Costa Rica allowed a goal was Clint Dempsey's strike on March 22, 2013, during the FIFA World Cup Qualifying match in a snowy Commerce City, Colorado.
The U.S. will now face El Salvador, the third-place finisher in Group B, in the quarterfinal on Sunday, July 21. Kickoff from M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore is 4 p.m. ET and the match will be broadcast live on FOX and Univision. Fans can also follow on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker and Twitter @ussoccer.
The game appeared headed for a 0-0 stalemate as legitimate chances were in short supply for both sides, but in the 82nd minute Costa Rica earned a corner kick on the left side of the field that would trigger a wild sequence and lead to the U.S. goal. Celso Borges sent his service to the far post where Carlos Johnson powered a header towards the upper right corner. U.S. goalkeeper Sean Johnson, who was making his first start and seeing his first minutes of the tournament, made a spectacular leaping save, just getting a piece of the ball to push it off the crossbar.
The USA scrambled to clear their penalty area, and the ball eventually got to the feet of Joe Corona on the right side. He then sent a perfect long service to the streaking Landon Donovan down the wing. With the scrambling Costa Rica defense pulled out of shape, the USA's all-time leading scorer Donovan used a marvelously efficient first-time touch into the middle of the field to spring Shea behind the last defender with a perfectly weighted pass.
Shea ran onto the ball, settled with one touch and struck a low shot with his preferred left foot to the left of Costa Rican goalkeeper Patrick Pemberton, who was coming off his line to cut down the angle. Pemberton got a piece of the ball but could not keep it out of the net as it tucked nicely into the lower left corner.
Costa Rica pushed hard for an equalizer, firing two shots on goal in the last two minutes of stoppage time, but Johnson was up to the task with two solid grabs and earned the clean sheet.