Marcos Urena's brace led Costa Rica to a 2-0 win over the US Men's National Team Friday night in New Jersey.
The U.S. attack has to be better in order for the team to have a shot at picking up three sorely needed points in Honduras, but the onus is on the Americans as a whole to perform better than it did against Costa Rica.
The Americans (2-3-2) stand third with eight points and a plus-one goal differential (the first tiebreaker). Panama has seven points, and Trinidad and Tobago three.
The razor-thin margins between the three teams means that the US face Honduras knowing that defeat would mean that automatic qualification is no longer in their own hands.
► Be in danger of finishing fifth and missing the playoff vs.an Asian team.
'We lost to a team that played better than us. we have to put this past us real quick and regroup for Tuesday.
In their most recent meeting in San Jose in March, Arena's side ran riot to score a 6-0 victory.
Both goals were products of giveaways in bad spots, but the Costa Ricans also controlled midfield for the majority of the match and bottled up the Americans when they got within sight of goal.
The USMNT will feel good about their current position in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying table, especially given their rough start to Hexagonal play past year.
"It puts more pressure on us, but we're still right in the thick of it, and our plan is still to qualify for the World Cup", Tim Howard added. "This is where we are at the moment". The Italians will likely go through the playoff round in November.
"That can't scare us".
The win provisionally lifted the Costa Ricans to the top of the Hexagonal table, while the Americans remained in the third place.
All of a sudden, the World Cup qualifying chances Arena had helped revive are back in jeopardy heading into Tuesday's trip to Honduras, which moved into a tie with the Americans in the CONCACAF qualifying standings after beating Trinidad & Tobago, 2-1, on Friday. "We're going to be aggressive and make sure we are ready to win everything". A draw might see them get just one point, but it would also deprive Honduras from getting another two. A poor clearing kick from goalkeeper Tim Howard was headed back towards the USA territory and with Ream and Geoff Cameron out of position, Urena burst through the middle.
Christian Pulisic, 18, had a rough game against Costa Rica's defense. This is how you deal in competition and sports. Or, for that matter, having to win far, far from home in Port of Spain - a game that would rekindle memories of the last 1989 qualifier in which the Americans broke T&T hearts with a 1-0 triumph. "You hate to look at one game and not look at the whole". "We didn't play well (against Costa Rica)".
There are just three games left for the USA, two of which are on the road.