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Costa Rica stuns US in qualifier

ALVARO Saborio scored 79 seconds in, the second-fastest goal against the United States in a World Cup qualifier, and Costa Rica coasted to a 3-1 victory in San Jose on Wednesday night.

Celso Borges added a goal in the 13th minute, and Pablo Herrera sealed the victory for 41st-ranked Costa Rica when he made it 3-0 in the 69th.

When the lopsided match was nearly over, striker Landon Donovan converted a penalty kick in the second minute of stoppage time, equaling Brian McBride's American career record of 10 goals in qualifying.

"We consider us probably the fastest, strongest team in the region, but today we got out-passed, outplayed and out-competed in every sense," American goalkeeper Tim Howard said. "We were below average across the board."

The Ticos shredded the defense of the region's top-ranked team on the artificial turf of Saprissa Stadium.

"It's disappointing to play that way," Donovan said. "We were never in control because of the way we started the game, and that makes it difficult."

It was a tough start to a difficult three-match stretch of qualifying for the No. 14-ranked Americans, who have never won a qualifying match in Costa Rica.

The Americans head home to Chicago, where on Sunday they'll host Honduras, the last team to beat them in a qualifier on US soil. The US has won 15 and drawn once at home since the 2-3 defeat at Washington's RFK Stadium in September 2001. Then, on August 12, the Americans play in Mexico.

Costa Rica took first place in the six-team regional finals of North and Central America and the Caribbean with nine points, two ahead of the US.

However, the Americans remain in good position to qualify for their sixth straight World Cup as long as they win their remaining home matches, which include games against El Salvador in September and Costa Rica on October 14.

Honduras (1-1-1) has four points, followed by Mexico with three, and El Salvador and Trinidad and Tobago with two points each. The top three nations qualify for next year's World Cup in South Africa, and the No. 4 team meets the fifth-place team from South America in a playoff for another berth.


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