WCQ Recap: Costa Rica 2-0 USA

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The United States men’s national team booked their passage to the World Cup, but it was not the way they wanted to finish CONCACAF qualifying as they fell to Costa Rica on Wednesday night in San Jose.

Costa Rica 2-0 USA

The United States played well in the first half, but let themselves down in the second as a pair of goals saw Costa Rica come away with the win, but it was not enough for them to overtake the Americans to take the third and automatic qualification spot for the World Cup.

After securing four points in the past two games and guaranteeing themselves a top-four finish in the standings, the goal was to prevent the Ticos from scoring six, which would have put them in a test intercontinental playoff game against New Zealand.

However, the Americans were not intent on sitting back as they wanted to make history by winning the team’s first game at the National Stadium.

Head coach Gregg Berhalter went with a full-strength side, while Costa Rica elected to go with a younger squad, with some earning their first caps on the night.

The visitors were on the attack from the start and tested goalkeeper Keylor Navas seven minutes in when Kellyn Acosta unleashed a powerful shot inside the 12-yard box from a corner kick. The ball went through Navas’ hands but he did enough to stop its momentum.

Another U.S. chance came five minutes later when Tim Weah played the ball to Ricardo Pepi on the right side of the box. The FC Augsburg man put a shot on target, but Navas was there once again to eliminate the threat.

Just like with the Mexico game, the team played well but were lacking that punch in the final third. That played into the hands of Costa Rica as both sides headed into the second half.

Navas was called in to make another save for his team just minutes into the restart when Miles Robinson put a header on target. Weah followed up afterward with a shot that was blocked at the goal line.

It was going to be one of those frustrating nights again as the U.S. had most of the possession along with six shots on target and twelve corner kicks.

The hosts then came along and broke the scoreless deadlock with a goal in the 51st minute. Juan Pablo Vargas would break away from Acosta to get his head on the ball from a corner kick.

A defensive lapse by the Americans allowed Costa Rica to double their lead eight minutes later. Zack Steffen came off his line to intercept the ball from a free-kick. However, he could not get a good grab on it, leading to a scramble. Jewison Bennette would then fire a shot that took a deflection off a teammate, but the ball fell into the path of Anthony Contreas to tap in from close range.

As the game carried on, the Ticos knew they had done the job to get them to the playoff game. On the side, the U.S. continued to press for at least a consolation goal, but it just would not come.

A disappointing result, but the players and staff should be relieved that the United States is headed back to World Cup, as they exorcised that dreadful night four years ago in Trinidad and Tobago.

The U.S. finished CONCACAF’s Octagonal in third place with 25 points.

Up next is the all-important World Cup Draw on Friday, where they will see who they face in group play in Qatar.


Yanks Abroad

Since 2004, Yanks Abroad has been providing coverage of the U.S. national team program and American players plying their trade around the world. We are committed to bringing you breaking news, interviews, and features that keep you in the loop with what's going with the United States in the soccer world.

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  1. avatar
    thatpageguy says:

    I think it is a pretty sad state of affairs when a lot of people are happy that we finished 3rd on goal differential and managed to get into the WC by losing only 2-0 to a team filled with nobodies. Talk about lowered expectations. How will we become good if this is acceptable?

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