GAIN EXPERIENCE: For five games of World Cup qualifiers, including three on the road, the US is second in the octagonal standings. The eight points so far have come with 21 players earning their World Cup qualifying debuts, already eclipsing the total from the full 16 games of the last cycle. Against Panama, two teenagers started for the USMNT in the third consecutive game – this time it was midfielder Yunus Musah (18) and defender George Bello (19).
FORTRESS COLUMBUS: The USMNT has a long, storied history in the Ohio capital, as Columbus has played 12 games, including 10 World Cup qualifiers since 2000. The US set a 7-1-2 record in C-Bus during qualifiers, with highlight four “Dos a Cero” triumphs over Mexico. The seven qualifying wins in Columbus are the most by the USMNT in any city. Wednesday night marks the US’s first game at the newly opened Lower.com Field and is the first game between the US and Costa Rica in the city since the USMNT’s first World Cup qualifier in Columbus, a 0-0 tie on October 11. 2000 .
Head Coach Gregg Berhalter was a sporting director and head coach of the Columbus Crew for five seasons before joining US Soccer in December 2018. .
COSTA RICA COMES FIRST WIN: Costa Rica comes in fifth in the octagonal standings in Wednesday’s game with six points from the first five games. the Ticos come off their first win in World Cup qualifiers – a 2-1 home win vs. El Salvador on Sunday. Despite an early deficit, Costa Rica rallied after halftime with a goal from Bryan Ruiz and a penalty converted by Celso Borges. The win marked Costa Rica’s first game with more than one goal in World Cup qualifiers, as the Ticos scored just three times in five games. In the first game of the October window, Costa Rica Honduras drew 0-0 against San Pedro Sula.
THE OCTAGON: Teams qualify for the World Cup through their regional confederations, and the USMNT must take on the gauntlet of Concacaf (North America, Central America and the Caribbean) to reach Qatar 2022. For the first time, eight teams will participate in the final round of the World Cup Qualifiers for Concacaf from September to March. The countries play a round-robin of 14 matches, home and away against each of the other seven teams.
Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the World Cup qualifying schedule has been shortened from 18 months to seven. To comply with the new schedule, the USMNT will have to play three games during four of the five international windows instead of the usual two games.
FORWARD/SOLO PA’LANTE ONLY: US Soccer starts World Cup qualifiers with the launch of “Only Forward” / “Solo Pa’lante,” The USMNT’s creative campaign aimed to unite fans and the team in a collective journey to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Developed in collaboration with the players, coaches and staff, “Only Forward / Solo Pa’lante” highlights a young, diverse and globally minded men’s national team that is humble but resilient to take on the challenge of World Cup qualifiers over the next eight months. As the USMNT continues to gain valuable experience en route to Qatar, it is ready to show the world that they are willing to change the way the world views American football.
USA ROSTER NOTES
Against Panama, midfielder Kellyn Acosta expanded his streak of consecutive games to 19 games, dating back to the 6-0 win against El Salvador on December 9, 2020. Acosta’s run of games is the most by a USMNT player since Landon Donovan played 35-. direct matches from 2001-2003.
Matt Turner is the only American player to have played every minute of World Cup qualifiers so far. Against Panama, Turner made his 11th consecutive USMNT appearance, the most by an American goalkeeper since Brad Guzan played 12 consecutive games from June 5 to 10, 2015. The record for consecutive games by a USMNT goalkeeper is held by Tony Meola, who played 15 consecutive matches from December 19, 1990 to September. 4, 1991.
Turner now holds a 9-1-2 record in his 12 USMNT appearances, keeping a clean sheet in eight games while conceding just four goals.
Players come from clubs in 10 different countries: USA (11), Spain (4), England (2), Italy (2), Germany (2), Austria (1), Belgium (1), France (1), Netherlands (1) and Turkey (1).
Seventeen players return from September’s World Cup qualifying camp.
Thirteen players are 23 and under: Weston McKennie (23); Tyler Adams, Luca de la Torre and Mark McKenzie (22); Chris Richards and Tim Weah (21); Brenden Aaronson, Sergiño Dest and Matthew Hoppe (20); George Bello and Gianluca Busio (19); Yunus Musah and Ricardo Pepi (18).
Twenty-three players were part of the USMNT Championships over the summer: 10 participated in the Nations League and 13 in the Gold Cup, with Kellyn Acosta and Sebastian Lletget on both rosters.
The USA is 18-16-6 all-time against Costa Rica and 18-6-4 at home.
Most recently, the nations faced each other following the USMNT’s Concacaf Nations League victory in a friendly in Sandy, Utah. The USA won 4-0 as striker Brenden Aaronson scored his third goal in his career.
Aaronson and defender Mark McKenzie made their US debut against Costa Rica on February 1, 2020, a 1-0 win.
The US is 6-11-2 vs. Costa Rica in World Cup qualifiers, including a 6-2-1 home record.
The USMNT took on Costa Rica in one of the most memorable home games ever: the Snow Classico in Commerce City, Colo. on March 22, 2013. During a snowstorm in the Rocky Mountains, Clint Dempsey scored the US’s only goal for a 1-0 win.
The US eliminated Costa Rica from qualifying for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa with a 2-2 draw in Washington, DC in October 2009.
COSTA RICA ROSTER
TIPPERS (3): Aaron Cruz (Saprissa; 1/0), Leonel Moreira (Alajuelense; 20/0), Keylor Navas (Paris Saint-Germain / FRA; 98/0)
DEFENDERS (10): Ricardo Blanco (Saprissa; 12/0), Francisco Calvo (Chicago Fire FC / USA; 64/7), Oscar Duarte (Levante / ESP; 63/2), Fernan Faerron (Alajuelense; 0/0), Keysher Fuller (Herediano ; 19/1), Giancarlo Gonzalez (Alajuelense; 87/2), Ronald Matarrita (FC Cincinnati / USA; 47/3), Bryan Oviedo (Copenhang / DEN; 66/2), Kendall Watson (Saprissa; 51/7) , Juan Pablo Vargas (Millonarios / COL; 10/0)
MIDFIELDS (9): Celso Borges (Alajuelense; 143/26), Luis Diaz (Columbus Crew; 8/0), Orlando Galo (Herediano; 2/0), Randall Leal (Nashville SC/US; 24/0), Jimmy Marin (Saprissa; 10 / 1), Bryan Ruiz (Alajuelense; 136/28), Youstin Salas (Greece; 0/0), Yeltsin Tejeda (Herediano; 62/0), Johan Venegas (Alajuelense; 70/11)
FORWARD (4): Cristian Bolaños (Saprissa; 8/17), Jonathan Moya (Anyang / KOR; 12/0), Alvaro Saborio (San Carlos; 111/36), Kenneth Vargas (Greece; 0/0)
IN FOCUS: COSTA RICAI
Costa Rica qualified for the final round of Concacaf World Cup qualifiers as the third-ranked team in the region, claiming one of five automatic berths in the Octagon.
This summer, Costa Rica reached the quarter-finals of the 2021 Gold Cup after leading Group C with a perfect nine points. the Ticos fell to Canada 2–0 in their only knockout round match.
Seventeen players compete domestically in Costa Rica, including six from Alajuelense and five from Saprissa, two of the country’s most successful clubs. Other Costa Rican players are active in the US (four), Colombia, Denmark, France, South Korea and Spain (one each).
Columbus Crew midfielder Luis Diaz will play at his home stadium on Wednesday night, taking on his Crew teammate, American striker Gyasi Zardes.
Midfielder Randall Leal is a teammate of US defenseman Walker Zimmerman at Nashville SC.
Head coach Luis Fernando Suarez took charge of the team after losing to the USMNT in Utah in June. The Colombian has 22 years of coaching experience and led two different national teams to the FIFA World Cup: Ecuador in 2006 and Honduras in 2010.
Costa Rica, Central America’s most successful team, has played in five FIFA World Cups, including four of the last five. the Ticos caused a stir in Brazil 2014 by reaching the quarter-finals before falling to the Netherlands in a penalty shoot-out. In Russia 2018, Costa Rica finished fourth in its group, 0-2-1.
Alongside the US and Mexico, Costa Rica is one of three teams to participate in every final round of the World Cup qualifiers since 1998. the Ticos never finished worse than fourth in six editions of the Hexagonal.
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