EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — Brek Shea played 45 minutes against Cuba on Saturday, and that was it. He was replaced at the start of the second half.
U.S. Men’s National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann had seen enough.
Shea, who has always had the support and faith of Klinsmann, looked not just off, but out of it. He was losing possessions, making bad passes and on more than a few occasions playing at a slower, choppy pace. It was arguably the younger star’s worst national team appearance.
On Tuesday, it appeared Shea had put it behind him.
With about eight minutes left in the Americans’ final Gold Cup group stage game with Costa Rica, Shea took one touch on a perfectly placed pass from Landon Donovan and struck it into the back of the net. He had come into the game five minutes earlier as a sub.
The goal gave Shea his first international goal and more importantly for the Americans a 1-0 victory over growing rival Costa Rica in front of 25,432 at Rentschler Field.
“I think we saw an entertaining game — a game we pushed to the end in order to win it,” Klinsmann said. “The team really deserves a huge compliment. We could have taken the easier (way) and said we were first anyway in the group and tie is fine. But a tie is not fine with us.”
The Americans, who had already earned the berth in the quarterfinals after beating Cuba on Saturday, play El Salvador in Baltimore on Sunday. The U.S. finished play in Group C with a 3-0 record, nine points and a goal differential of 11-2. It was a thorough effort, capped off by a dramatic finish. It also gave the Americans their longest win streak at eight games.