USMNT clear early deficit and beat Costa Rica in World Cup qualifier
Posted On October 14, 2021
COLUMBUS, Ohio – It doesn’t matter early in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup, how the United States Men’s National Team reached the field of 32 in Qatar. It could be by the thinnest margins and all that would be remembered would be how the United States exorcised its demons four years earlier.
The lower of the margins is what it took Wednesday night against Costa Rica, with a double bounce off the post and one of the best goalkeepers in the world having to leave the game at half-time with an injury.
Going into the game 1-0 after just 60 seconds of play, the Americans came back for a critical 2-1 win over Costa Rica at Lower.com Field, on goals from right-back Sergino Dest in the 25th minute and a shot on target. of forward Tim Weah who was credited as an own goal.
After a turnaround from Costa Rica just outside the penalty area in the 66th minute, Dest passed the flank to Weah who unleashed a shot at goalkeeper Leonel Moreira. The shot hit the post first, then Moreira’s left side and bounced off the post again before slipping through the goal and over the line.
USMNT’s chances of winning the game were undoubtedly increased when Costa Rican goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who starts for one of the best clubs in the world at Paris Saint-Germain, was substituted to start the second. half time after an adductor injury.
But the Americans played just as well as in the previous six qualifying games and earned all three points against a much older, more experienced but less dynamic Costa Rican team that never had control of the game.
“I felt we dominated the first half, dominated the second half and we got the reward,” said Weah.
With the win, the United States rose to 10 points in six games and took second place in Concacaf qualifying ahead of the next series of international games in November, which includes the best home game on the qualifying calendar of 14. matches – against Mexico.
After a loss in Panama three days earlier, the last thing the USMNT wanted was to play from behind in the first minute in a game they needed to make that October international window a success.
At the first opportunity, Costa Rica let left-back Ronald Matarrita beat Dest on the left flank and send a cross that landed at the feet of Keysher Fuller.
The defender didn’t hit the ball well, but goalkeeper Zack Steffen froze, anticipating a deflection from Costa Rican striker Jonathan Moya directly in front of him as the ball flew past him and into the net for a superb first goal that made American fans fear the worst.
On September 1, 2017, it was a 2-0 home loss to Costa Rica at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey that appeared to be the kiss of death for USMNT’s 2018 World Cup hopes in Russia. Part of the reason Columbus received the home qualifying game against Costa Rica was because of the Americans’ impressive 7-1-2 record at Columbus in qualifying.
Despite allowing the first goal, the USMNT was in the game and Costa Rica quickly defended deeply in their own camp for long stretches. Coming out of their own camp in the 25th minute, the Americans got the boost they needed.
Weah sent a cross from the far left of the field to midfielder Yunus Musah, who was excellent in midfield for the United States. Musah gave the ball to Dest who managed two dribbles down midfield and torched the top left corner of the net for one of the best goals the United States has scored under coach Gregg Berhalter.
“It was a great help,” Berhalter said. “I said to them (at half-time), ‘Look, if we keep it up like this, we win the game. Keep it up.'”
US center-backs Chris Richards and Miles Robinson each landed goal-saving tackles to keep the game tied. Robinson gave a reckless gift in the 56th minute to Bryan Ruiz of Costa Rica, but regained some 25 yards on a dead sprint to tackle Ruiz to deny a scoring opportunity.
After Weah’s shot led to the go-ahead goal, Costa Rica’s defense opened up at the back, but the United States couldn’t find the third goal that would have put the game away. difference.
Still, the USMNT remained dangerous until the final whistle, negating any potential chance the Costa Ricans had the other way around.
Follow Jacob Myers of The Columbus Dispatch on Twitter @_jcmyers.