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Sep 6, 2013

Costa Rica scores twice early, ends U.S. winning streak

The United States conceded two early goals before Costa Rica added a third in the second half for a 3-1 win to end the Americans' 12-game winning streak. While the United States was missing usual starters Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley Friday night, it was the U.S. defense that struggled the most. Here are five takeaways from the Americans' defeat in Costa Rica:

- One of the United States' biggest weaknesses this year has been defending in the air. In 2013, the Americans have now conceded 20 goals, nearly half of them (nine) coming from headers.

Despite the loss, the United States still hold a 99.9 percent chance at advancing to the World Cup, tops in CONCACAF according to ESPN's Soccer Power Index.

Costa Rica moves to the top of the table with 14 points after the win, giving them a 99.6 percent chance to advance to Brazil for this year's World Cup.

- Michael Bradley's absence left a notable hole in the United States' midfield. In Bradley's five starts this summer, the Americans completed 83 percent of their passes, including 71 percent of passes in the attacking third. Bradley led the team in completed passes in all five games, averaging 72.2 per game.

Against Costa Rica, the United States completed 79 percent of its passes, but only 56 percent in the attacking third.

- Without Bradley and Altidore, the United States were unable to create enough chances against Costa Rica. The Americans were held to four created chances and seven touches in the opponent's penalty area. Both were the United States' lowest totals since a scoreless draw in Mexico on March 26.

During the United States' 12-game winning streak, the Americans averaged 12 created chances and 22.9 touches in the penalty area.

- In Clint Dempsey's 100th appearance for the United States, Dempsey tallied his 36th international goal with his penalty strike right before halftime. Dempsey's 43rd-minute goal was his 13th in a World Cup qualifier, breaking the previous tie with Landon Donovan for the most in U.S. history.

- In Landon Donovan's first World Cup qualifier since leading the United States to the Gold Cup title in July, Donovan dropped into a deeper role. Donovan created all four chances for the Americans, but was held without a touch in the penalty area. During the Gold Cup, Donovan averaged 6.8 touches per game in the opponent's box.