Steffen in goal as USA change 9 of 11 starters against Costa Rica

US coach Gregg Berhalter reshuffled his roster by including goalkeeper Zack Steffen among nine changes from the starting XI for a World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica

COLUMBUS, Ohio – USA coach Gregg Berhalter has reshuffled his roster, including goaltender Zack Steffen among nine changes from the starting 11 for Wednesday night’s World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica.

Chris Richards, a 21-year-old center-back, got his first competitive start as the Americans fielded their youngest roster in a World Cup qualifier, averaging 22 years and 229 days. This shattered the previous mark of 23 years and 85 days set in the September 8 game in Honduras, a 4-1 victory.

Midfielder Yunus Musah and winger Paul Arriola were the only remnants of the squad that started the 1-0 loss to Panama on Sunday.

Berhalter has inserted a new quartet of right-back Sergiño Dest, Chris Richards and Miles Robinson in center defense, and Antonee Robinson in left-back.

Tyler Adams was a defensive midfielder and team captain, and Weston McKennie a forward midfielder with Musah. Brenden Aaronson and Arriola were on the wings, and Ricardo Pepi led the attack.

Steffen replaced New England’s Matt Turner for the goal, who started the first four qualifying games. Steffen, Ederson’s replacement at Manchester City, played for the Columbus side of Major League Soccer at the old Crew Stadium.

Steffen and Richards have increased the number of qualifying starts in the United States to 23 in five matches this cycle, behind just 1998 (29), and 2006 and 2010 (26 each). Richards was only making his fourth international appearance.

Musah and Arriola are the only Americans to start all three October qualifiers.

Goalkeeper Sean Johnson, defender Shaq Moore and midfielder Sebastian Lletget did not dress.

Costa Rica coach Luis Fernando Suárez made two changes, forced by the absence of strikers Joel Campbell (sprained right ankle) and José Guillermo Ortiz (test positive for COVID-19). He inserted Ricardo Blanco as part of a five-man backline with striker Jonathan Moya.

They joined right-back Keysher Fuller, center-backs Óscar Duarte and Francisco Calvo, left-back Rónald Matarrita and midfielders Celso Borges, Yeltsin Tejeda, Bryan Ruiz and Johan Venegas.

The game was played at Lower.com Field, the more than $ 300 million downtown home of the Columbus Crew which opened in July on the banks of the Scioto River.

The United States started the night with eight points, second behind Mexico (11) and ahead of Panama on goal difference. Canada (seven) was fourth, followed by Costa Rica (six), El Salvador (five), Honduras (three) and Jamaica (two).

The top three nations of North America, Central America and the Caribbean qualify after 14 matches at next year’s World Cup in Qatar, and number one. 4 teams qualify for the playoffs.

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