Winning your home games is critical in World Cup qualifying

The USMNT will face Costa Rica – traditionally one of the top national teams in Concacaf – in its third and final World Cup qualifier during the October window at Field in Columbus on Wednesday.

So far, the U.S. has experienced an up-and-down qualifying campaign for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The USMNT opened this qualifying window with a 2-0 win over Jamaica in Austin, Texas. It followed up that with a dismal performance against Panama in Panama City, losing 1-0. This marked the USMNT’s first-ever World Cup qualifying defeat to Panama.

In Costa Rica, the USMNT will meet a formidable foe, one that has reached four of the last five World Cups, which includes a quarterfinal appearance in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

The U.S. currently sits in second place in the Concacaf World Cup qualifying standings behind Mexico. The top three teams automatically qualify for the 2022 World Cup, while the fourth-place team must compete in an inter-continental playoff.

Here’s everything you need to know for Wednesday:

When is the USMNT-Costa Rica World Cup qualifier?

Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Oct. 13.

Where is the USMNT-Costa Rica World Cup qualifier?

The game will be held at Field in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus has hosted 10 World Cup qualifiers since 2000, and the USMNT is 7-1-2 in those games. Field is home to the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer. The Crew’s former home, Historic Crew Stadium, was famous for the “Dos a Cero” games against Mexico, in which the USMNT prevailed 2-0 in 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2013.

How can I watch the USMNT’s World Cup qualifier vs. Costa Rica?

ESPN2 will air the game, with streaming available on WatchESPN. Spanish-language broadcast available on UniMas and TUDN (pregame show at 6:30 p.m. ET). The game also is available on fuboTV.

Which players are on the USMNT and Costa Rica rosters?

USMNT roster

Goalkeepers (3): Sean Johnson (New York City FC; USA), Zack Steffen (Manchester City; England), Matt Turner (New England Revolution; USA)

Defenders (10): George Bello (Atlanta United; USA), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona; Spain), Mark McKenzie (Genk; Belgium), Shaq Moore (Tenerife; Spain), Tim Ream (Fulham; England), Chris Richards (Hoffenheim; Germany), Antonee Robinson (Fulham; England), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United; USA), DeAndre Yedlin (Galatasaray; Turkey), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC, USA)

Midfielders (8): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; USA), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig; Germany), Gianluca Busio (Venezia; Italy), Luca de la Torre (Heracles; Netherlands), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; USA), Weston McKennie (Juventus; Italy), Yunus Musah (Valencia; Spain), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; USA)

Forwards (6): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg; Austria), Paul Arriola (D.C. United; USA), Matthew Hoppe (Mallorca; Spain), Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas; USA), Tim Weah (Lille; France), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew; USA)

Costa Rica roster

Goalkeepers (3): Aarón Cruz (Saprissa; Costa Rica), Leonel Moreira (Alajuelense; Costa Rica), Keylor Navas (Paris Saint-Germain; France)

Defenders (9): Ricardo Blanco (Saprissa; Costa Rica), Francisco Calvo (Chicago Fire; USA), Óscar Duarte (Levante; Spain), Fernán Faerrón (Alajuelense; Costa Rica), Keysher Fuller (Herediano; Costa Rica), Rónald Matarrita (FC Cincinnati; USA), Bryan Oviedo (Copenhagen; Denmark), Juan Pablo Vargas (Millonarios; Colombia), Kendall Waston (Saprissa; Costa Rica)

Midfielders (9): Celso Borges (Alajuelense; Costa Rica), Luis Díaz (Columbus Crew; USA), Orlando Galo (Herediano; Costa Rica), Randall Leal (Nashville SC; USA), Jimmy Marín (Saprissa; Costa Rica), Bryan Ruiz (Alajuelense; Costa Rica), Youstin Salas (Municipal Grecia; Costa Rica), Yeltsin Tejeda (Herediano; Costa Rica), Johan Venegas (Alajuelense; Costa Rica)

Forwards (4): Joel Campbell (Monterrey; Mexico), Jonathan Moya (FC Anyang; South Korea), José Guillermo Ortiz (Herediano; Costa Rica), Kenneth Vargas (Municipal Grecia; Costa Rica)

The U.S. men’s national team will look to get back on track after its first loss in World Cup qualifying as it gets set to meet a Costa Rica side that is back from the dead in its bid to make it to Qatar 2022.

An American squad with seven new starters from its previous 2-0 win over Jamaica logged what was arguably the worst U.S. performance in the Gregg Berhalter era on Sunday, failing to register a single shot on target in a 1-0 loss to Panama. Berhalter’s decision to heavily rotate the squad was met with criticism, but he made it clear that it was a gamble for which the payoff comes on Wednesday.

“It obviously doesn’t look like the best choice, but I think we have to wait till Thursday,” Berhalter said after the Panama loss. “If we were going to play the same players [vs. Jamaica on Thursday] in this game [vs. Panama on Sunday], I’m not sure we would position ourselves in the best way to win again on Wednesday [vs. Costa Rica]. Again, the conditions that we’re dealing with [in Panama] with the travel and the weather made it complicated. And we had to make, I guess, somewhat of a risky decision.”

Winning your home games is critical in World Cup qualifying and Wednesday’s opponent showed why. Back in 2017, Costa Rica went into Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., and beat the USA 2-0 in a qualifier that ultimately cost the Americans a place in the 2018 World Cup. That match was also the Ticos’ last win against the USA; they’ve experienced a period of slow decline since the end of the 2018 World Cup, going a mediocre 8-8-11 in all matches and having to fire their coach in June.

It’s experienced hand Luis Fernando Suarez who was appointed to take over a Costa Rican team in desperate need of a generational changeover. But Suarez is still rolling out the old guard, and it was those veteran heroes who allowed the Ticos to secure a draw in Honduras last week and salvage a 2-1 come-from-behind win over El Salvador on Sunday. PSG goalkeeper Keylor Navas was the star, making a key save in both matches to preserve the results. Those four points have Costa Rica back in the qualifying mix.

It’s expected that Berhalter will field his first-choice U.S. team again, featuring emerging goal scorer Ricardo Pepi, who will have his work cut out for him to beat Navas. The 18-year-old is one of 13 U.S. players age 23 or younger, while Costa Rica has 12 players who are 30 or older. It makes for a fascinating battle of youth vs. guile with valuable points on the line.

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