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On Sunday, the U.S. men’s national team were given a humbling 1-0 loss away from home against Panama.
With little to offer in the attack through an altered setup, manager Gregg Berhalter and his men were second-best against the Central Americans who out-shot them.
As for their upcoming World Cup qualifying Octagonal opponents, Costa Rica clinched their first win of the tournament through a narrow 2-1 victory at home against El Salvador.
After kicking off WCQ with three draws and a loss, the weekend’s three points were much-needed for the Costa Ricans in their run towards Qatar 2022.
All that said, the USMNT should have no excuses here.
Following an experimental XI, Berhalter should bring back some of his usual starters in a venue that will be heavily supporting the United States.
Costa Rica, away from their own ground, tend to have issues as well.
On Wednesday, Pick the USMNT for the win. (-176)
It was interesting to see the discourse from U.S. soccer fans on Twitter last Sunday.
Fresh off their convincing 2-0 result over Jamaica, the following 1-0 away loss felt like a reality check for many who suddenly went into a panic.
Exactly four years after the 2-1 loss to Trinidad & Tobago that knocked them out of the running for the 2018 World Cup, Sunday’s defeat felt like a symbolic setback in their hopes for Qatar 2022.
Granted, there is a significant amount of time left before the Octagonal ends, but the loss remains a difficult one for supporters who are wary of the 2W-2D-1L start in the current cycle.
The good news? There will be one more chance for additional WCQ points this week.
At home in Columbus, Ohio, the USMNT will be the favorites in a battle against Costa Rica.
Home-field advantage aside, they’ll also have a few well-rested starters who should be ready for prominent roles in the mid-week encounter.
Against Panama on Sunday, Berhalter made noteworthy alterations through seven changes in his XI.
The lack of cohesion through this experiment were made quite evident.
Players like Kellyn Acosta, Timothy Weah, Shaq Moore and a handful of others were incredibly underwhelming as they failed to truly threaten the Central Americans.
With a packed schedule that includes three games in seven days, Berhalter should be forgiven for rotating, but it’s now painfully obvious he needs to bring some of his best back.
Tyler Adams, Ricardo Pepi and a handful of the starters from the game against Jamaica should be back in the mix this week.
It really is quite telling that Costa Rica weren’t able to secure three points until Sunday.
After kicking things off with three draws and a loss, Costa Rica clinched their first win against a vulnerable El Salvadorian squad that also have just one victory to their name.
They can’t just rely on goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
Going forward, the two-goal win was the first time in their last eight games in all competitions in which they’ve scored more than once.
Their roster is an aging one, and without very many reliable backups, Costa Rica will have complications in compact schedules like these during World Cup qualifying.
Although USMNT fans will want to move past what was arguably their worst performance in the current WCQ cycle, some good positives did emerge from the loss.
Goalkeeper Matt Turner was impressive in the loss against Panama and helped avoid an even more embarrassing result.
In defense, Walker Zimmerman shined for the second time in a row this month for the USMNT.
George Bello had the occasional promising moment as well, especially through his distribution and duels.
It’s not all doom and gloom for the USMNT, and as long as figures like these continue to carry their weight, they’ll have a fighting chance for a victory on Wednesday.
|United States v Costa Rica Information|
|Teams||United States vs Costa Rica|
|Location||Lower.com Field (Columbus, Ohio)|
|Time||Wednesday, October 13th at 4:00 pm PT/7:00 pm ET|
|How to Watch||ESPN 2, UniMas, TUDN, ESPN+|
Freelance writer Cesar Hernandez is a specialist in all things American and Mexican soccer. He has written for ESPN FC, The Athletic, The Guardian, FourFourTwo, VICE Sports and several other publications. Along with writing and previous radio appearances on the BBC, talkSPORT and SiriusXM FC, Cesar is also a member of the Mexican Soccer Show podcast. Email: [email protected]More info on Cesar Hernandez
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