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Costa Rica drops US to 0-2 in qualifying

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — The United States put itself in a deep hole in World Cup qualifying with one of its worst performances in decades.

Taking advantage of defensive mistakes, Costa Rica routed the U.S. 4-0 Tuesday night to drop the Americans to 0-2 for the first time in the final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region.

"A very, very bitter moment for us. There's no doubt about it," U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. "We didn't imagine going into the hexagonal with two defeats right at the beginning."

Johan Venegas scored in the 43rd minute, Cristian Bolanos doubled the lead in the 69th and second-half substitute Joel Campbell beat beleagured goalkeeper Brad Guzan in the 74th and 77th minutes in the worst margin of defeat for the U.S. in a qualifier since a 5-1 loss at Mexico in November 1980.

It was the biggest losing shutout margin in a qualifier since the U.S. fell 6-0 at Mexico in 1957.

Combined with Friday's 2-1 loss to Mexico at Columbus, Ohio, the U.S. finds itself in a quick deficit in the hexagonal, which resumes in March.

Ticos fans sounded air horns at the end of a match that reignited questioning of Klinsmann's tactics. The U.S. dropped to 0-9-1 in qualifiers at Costa Rica.

Klinsmann is still confident he's the right person to lead the team, but understands the scrutiny.

"When you lose two games and obviously two World Cup qualifiers right after each other, there will be a lot of comments," he said.

The Americans, who had had not lost a home qualifier in 15 years before last week, figure they will win their four remaining home games and pick up points on the road.

The top three teams qualify for the 2018 tournament in Russia, and the No. 4 finisher advances to a playoff against Asia's fifth-place nation.

"I said to the team that it won't be the last 4-nil defeat in their career," Klinsmann said. "We'll get here some lessons but definitely it's a bitter moment because we wanted to do far, far better than what we did."

Central defenders John Brooks and Omar Gonzalez, and right back Timmy Chandler had particularly poor games. Brooks and Omar Gonzalez started in the center of the back line. Geoff Cameron, who usually starts alongside Brooks, missed both qualifiers this month after hyperextending a knee during Stoke's Premier League match against Hull on Oct. 22.

Costa Rica won its opener 2-0 at Trinidad and Tobago.