The final round of World Cup Qualifying got off to a disastrous start for the USMNT on Friday night. Not only did they lose to arch-rival Mexico, but they did so in Columbus — home of the famous Dos a Cero scoreline. As if that weren’t enough, the US now has to travel to a place where they’ve never won and take on a team they have struggled with over the years: Costa Rica.
The only bright spots on Friday night were Bobby Wood and Christian Pulisic. Other than that, it’s all doom and gloom. Tim Howard injured his groin on a goal kick and will be out for months. The midfield play was appallingly bad, partly because of the tactics used by Jurgen Klinsmann and partly because Michael Bradley is still a vastly overrated player who has yet to figure out how to not give the ball to the other team. Bradley’s play was so bad that Klinsmann even mentioned him by name in his postgame press conference (along with Jermaine Jones who understandably struggled, having not played a full 90 minutes with regularity since the Copa America this summer). Jozy Altidore as also poor despite that American soccer media proclaiming him back (for the 100th time) as he failed to score or trouble the Mexican defense. If the US does not play much better against Costa Rica, they could start the Hexagonal with two losses and really be behind the eight ball trying to qualify for Russia 2018.
Costa Rica on the other hand got their qualification campaign off to a good start with a 2-0 away to Trinidad & Tobago. They currently sit atop the standings with 3 points and a +2 goal difference. They’ve also had a great run of form lately. They’ve won five games in a row, including a win over Colombia at the Copa America in June. Costa Rica’s last loss was actually against the US in the Copa America. But don’t expect a repeat of that 4-0. The US has never won in Costa Rica (at the old Saprissa Stadium or the new national stadium), and the current squad is stacked with nine players playing for European clubs and another four playing in MLS. The ones to watch for are former Portland Timber Rodney Wallace, captain Bryan Ruiz and former Arsenal man Joel Campbell.
• Friday’s loss to Mexico was the first time the US has lost a home World Cup Qualifier since June, 2001.
• All three home teams in CONCACAF qualifying lost on Friday night.
• This is the second straight Hexagonal that the US has lost their first game.
When and where on TV and streaming
Series tied at 14-14-6
June 7, 2016
USA 4-0 Costa Rica
Current FIFA ranking
Costa Rica: 18
Next game up
To be determined
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