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 qualifying round for the CONCACAF region.
Johan Venegas scored in the 43rd minute, Cristian Bolanos doubled the lead in the 69th and second-half substitute Joel Campbell beat 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 defeat at Mexico in November 1980.
It was the biggest losing shutout margin in a qualifier since the U.S. fell 6-0 away to Mexico in 1957.
Combined with Friday's 2-1 loss to Mexico at Columbus, Ohio, the U.S. finds itself with an early deficit in the Hexagonal, which resumes in March.
Ticos fans sounded air horns at the end of a match that reignited questioning of coach Jurgen Klinsmann's tactics. The U.S. dropped to 0-9-1 in qualifiers at Costa Rica.
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.
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, which won its opener 2-0 at Trinidad and Tobago, went ahead after a Brooks giveaway. Randall Azofeifa took a short pass from Jose Salvatierra in the center circle and played a long ball into the corner, where Bolanos ran it down on its third bounce. Gonzalez was slow to close on Bolanos, who crossed for Venegas just outside the 6-yard box. Bolanos beat Brooks to the ball and sent a header across Guzan for his seventh goal in 30 international appearances.
Bolanos scored after a turnover by 18-year-old midfielder Christian Pulisic near midfield. Salvatierra sent a pass down the flank to Venagas, and his cross found Bolanos in front, with Chandler a step late.
Ronald Matarrita created the final two goals by Campbell. On the last goal, Campbell took the ball over Brooks' right foot as the American defender stabbed to make a play to no avail. He was a step behind all night on the slick, chunked-up turf.
There was some whistling during "The Star-Spangled Banner" from the capacity crowd of about 35,000 in Estadio Nacional, where the field is surrounded by an athletics track and crowd noise dissipates -- even from a band in the second deck. The venue appears less intimidating to visitors than old Estadio Ricardo Saprissa, where fans were directly behind the benches.
Chandler and midfielder Jermaine Jones are suspended for the next qualifier, at home on March 24 against Honduras, because of yellow-card accumulation. Both were cautioned by Mexican referee for fouls against Costa Rica captain Bryan Ruiz, Chandler in the 11th minute and Jones in the 37th.
Costa Rica, a 2014 World Cup quarterfinalist, nearly went ahead in the 14th minute when Bolanos centered for Ruiz, who chested the ball and sent an overhead kick directly into Guzan's face. And in the 57th, Venegas beat Chandler to a punt by Navas and had a clear shot on Guzan, who made a leg save.
While Bolanos repeatedly sliced diagonal long balls through the midfield, the U.S. rarely threatened. Pulisic took a pass from Jones in the 20th, dribbled to the end line and crossed, but Bobby Wood couldn't get to the ball before goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
Wood slid the ball behind Navas in the 41st, but the U.S. didn't have anyone in front.