USMNT vs Costa Rica Preview: Stars & Stripes Must Bounce Back

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The USMNT will be looking to bounce back after their shock defeat at the hands of Panama last time out in the CONCACAF Octagonal. They will return to home soil to attempt to do this against another side that has flattered to deceive in the final qualifying stage for Qatar 2022, Costa Rica.

Los Ticos have had a terrible qualifying stage, but seemed to have turned a corner, getting their first win on the board against El Salvador during the last set of fixtures.

A loss here would be almost terminal for the Costa Ricans qualification campaign, whereas failing to secure three points might be terminal for Gregg Berhalter, who continues to underwhelm as the head coach of the USMNT. 

It is interesting to note that the Stars and Stripes have an impressive record on home turf. They have won 14 of their last 15 matches stateside. The only blip on that particular radar was the 1-1 result against Canada last month.

After not having Zach Steffen and Antonee Robinson due to quarantine restrictions for the clash with Panama and Weston McKennie missing due to muscle soreness, all three should be available for selection for this one.

With all this in mind – let’s take a stab at predicting the USMNT lineup for this one.

In goals, I expect Matt Turner to return. He has been solid if unspectacular in this round of qualification fixtures, and it would be terribly harsh if he was dropped for this one.

In the full-back spots, we will almost certainly see the return of Antonee Robinson on the left and Sergio Dest on the right. I don’t think you’d find too many arguments with this selection. These are the two best full-backs Team USA has at their disposal. 

I have been screaming out for Chris Richards to get a run in the heart of the defense, but it seems clear that in the current roster Miles Robinson and Walker Zimmerman are the preferred pairing. Given the fact they have only conceded one goal, it seems fair enough that they continue at centre back.

Tyler Adams will return at the base of the midfield trio. Weston McKennie should return too, pending a fitness test.

The other slot is a coin-toss, I’m going to go out on a limb and give Sebastien Lletget the nod to play alongside McKennie.

The front three almost picks itself with Brenden Aaronson, on the left, Tim Weah lines up on the right with teen sensation  Ricardo Pepi playing as the focal point upfront. This is clearly the best attack available to the USMNT at the moment.

DC United’s right-sided midfielder Paul Arriola is a chance to start here too. 

The home ground advantage should ensure a victory for the United States and extinguish any hopes Costa Rica has of qualifying for the World Cup in Qatar 2022.

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