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U.S. men's national team has little margin for error after loss to Costa Rica

HARRISON, N.J. — The United States’ punishment for losing to Costa Rica on Friday night wasn’t to see its World Cup qualifying dream die, not by a long shot. The penalty for the team’s disappointing 2-0 setback at Red Bull Arena, the first of head coach Bruce Arena’s second stint in charge, was to embark on a brand-new season.

Silly season.

World Cup qualifying campaigns are often a tortuous slog that builds to a frenetic crescendo, an intense rush that leading teams seek to avoid the stress of by having their spot already wrapped up by then.

That luxury is not an option for the U.S. this time around, not having lost twice at home in qualifying for the first time since its modern streak of getting to seven straight World Cups began in 1990.

Silly season is where silly stuff happens, stuff that tests the bounds of statistical reason but bear up to detailed analysis. It is where margins for error shrink exponentially, bringing new and exacting mental tests for players, coaches and fans.

The U.S. will try to rebound from Friday’s…

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