USMNT Team News, Starting XI Prediction vs Costa Rica (WCQ)

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After one of their more impressive performances of the Octagonal qualification process, the USMNT demolished Panama 5-1 in their last fixture. That result all but assured their place in Qatar ‘22. It would require an incredible turn of events for the Stars & Stripes to even drop to fourth place.

Unless they lose by six more in their next fixture, they will indeed qualify for the World Cup automatically. Bearing all that in mind, the Yanks will have no fears when they head to the National Stadium in Costa Rica this coming Wednesday. Not only are they in terrific form, but they haven’t lost in their last four fixtures against Los Ticos.

It is anything but a foregone conclusion, however. 

Costa Rica has turned around an awful start to the qualifying stage. They are unbeaten in their last 6 qualifiers, a run that includes five victories, and incredibly the worst-case scenario sees them qualifying for an intercontinental playoff spot.

An unlikely 6 goal swing in their final fixture against Team USA would see them snatch an auto qualification spot. Something that was unthinkable just six months ago.

Costa Rica vs USMNT FYIs

When is it? Wednesday, 30 March 2022 9 PM (EST).

Where is it? Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica, San Jose, Costa Rica

Who’s in form? USMNT (WLWDW) Costa Rica (WDWWW)

What are the odds? USMNT(-120) Costa Rica (+235) Draw (+210)

How to watch? TV: CBSSN, Univision, TUDN

                          Streaming: Paramount+, TUDN

After Extra Time Podcast: Spotify  Apple Podcasts

Team News

As anyone who has any interest in the USMNT at all would already know, there are some big names missing from this roster. Weston McKennie, Sergino Dest, Brendan Aaronson & Matt Turner all failed to make camp with various injury issues.

Reggie Cannon, who I was excited to see play, was then struck down with COVID. Cannon is still part of the roster and I am holding on to hope that we might get to see Boavista right-back get some minutes.

Shaq Moore, the Tenerife right-back was called into the squad because of Cannon’s COVID diagnosis and played the full 90 minutes last time out in the 5-1 victory over Panama. 

Tim Weah and DeAndre Yedlin both missed the match against Panama with suspension. They are eligible to return to the squad for this one.

Incredibly, coach Gregg Berhalter had four players walking the suspension tightrope against Panama. Zack Steffen, Miles Robinson, Tyler Adams, and Jordan Pefok all entered the match against Panama, knowing a yellow card would see them suspended for this match. All four come through unscathed and are available for selection against Costa Rica.

Given the unlikely scenario Los Ticos requires to sneak into an auto qualification place, I think we will see a pretty low-key match with both sides using heavily rotated squads.

Taking a low-risk approach makes the most sense for both teams.

Starting XI Prediction

After playing 2 games in 72 hours, I think we will see some heavy rotation from Gregg Berhalter.

Especially when you add into that the fact that Tim Weah, DeAndre Yedlin, Kellyn Acosta and Ricardo Pepi all didn’t start against Panama and should all easily get through 90 minutes in Costa Rica.

I see no reason why Zack Steffen shouldn’t start for a third straight fixture. 180 minutes and only one goal conceded is an impressive return for the City number two. 

In defense, I am going with Walker Zimmerman to be partnered with Erik Palmer-Brown. The 6-foot France-based defender has been impressive this season for Troyes. I am going with George Bello to start at right-back. And I am holding on to my dream that we might see a bit of Reggie Cannon.

Therefore, I am, rather hopefully I will admit, going to pick him at left back.

Tyler Adams gets a well-earned rest as Kellyn Acosta and Gianluca Busio start at the base of defense, with Yunus Musah starting ahead of them.

We rest Hatrick hero Christian Pulisic after his heroics against Panama. I trial a completely new front three with Tim Weah coming back in on the right, Paul Arriola on the left and Jordan Pefok starting through the middle.

Stuey Predicts

Unless Costa Rica has 3 goals on the board in the first ten minutes and the six-goal swing becomes a realistic possibility, I am not expecting much in the way of entertainment here. A draw is an acceptable result for both sides, and I am leaning toward that.

A 1-1 draw that sees the US into the World Cup officially and sends Costa Rica to a berth in the playoff, which seemed unlikely just a short time ago.

Stuart Kavanagh is an up-and-coming sports journalist from Melbourne, Australia. Along with being the owner of the sports and entertainment website thepyrrhic.com, he is also the co-host of the ‘After Extra Time’ podcast. Football mad, he is always down for debate and discussion at @stueyissickofit on Twitter.

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