And if you were wondering if right back Fabian Johnsonwould keep his starting spot, you can drop him from your projections. Johnson, who asked to be substituted in overtime because of an injury, has been released. His departure leaves 20 players to face Costa Rica.
“I had a very severe word with Fabian Johnson, and I sent him home today,” Klinsmann said on Monday. “He can rethink his approach about his team. He said he couldn't go anymore and I reacted to it and obviously and made the substitution. He just feared to possibly get an injury, but he was not injured in that moment. He got all stiffened up. It's a muscle issue. It's normal."
Disagreements with prominent players have been normal since Klinsmann took the job in August of 2011, but never has he had to restore his team’s spirit and confidence following a defeat as that inflicted by Mexico in the Rose Bowl.
Though outplayed from the opening minutes of the second half, the Americans rallied twice from one-goal deficits with goals by Geoff Cameron and substitute Bobby Wood but were stunned by a spectacular Paul Aguilar strike in the 118th minute.
Thus did Mexico qualify for the 2017 Confederations Cup and kick another dent in the reputation of Klinsmann, who hadn’t lost to Mexico in all six previous meetings (three wins, three ties) as U.S. head coach.
Playing Costa Rica seems to be the ultimate anticlimax to the Mexico match, and if the Americans are unable to shake off the fatigue and disappointment of a crushing defeat, they could easily lose again. With the Mexico loss in the rear-view mirror, Klinsmann can use the game to rev up for the first two 2018 World Cup qualifiers next month against St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago.
Though Costa Rica has been in a bit of a funk since its sensational quarterfinal appearance at the 2014 World Cup that ended in a penalty-kick loss to the Netherlands, there are 11 holdovers in the squad to face the USA. Like the USA, Costa Rica comes into the match off a loss: 1-0 at home to South Africa on Friday. Also like the Americans, the Ticos split a pair of friendlies in September: 1-0 loss to Brazil and a victory by the score against Uruguay.
Safe to say the Costa Ricans looked much better in losing to Brazil than did the Americans in a 4-1 embarrassment.
The Concacaf rivals haven’t met since their third meeting of 2013, a 3-1 Costa Rica Hexagonal victory. The Americans won the home Hexagonal match, 1-0, in a snowstorm in Commerce City, Colo., and also prevailed, 1-0, in 2013 Gold Cup group play on a goal by Brek Shea, who is one of the five players added from the Mexico game (eight players have been released).
Shea started the year at left back for Orlando City and the USA but has been predominantly a midfielder in MLS since recovering from sports-hernia surgery performed in June. The prospect of Shea lining up on the left side is one of several intriguing possibilities for an otherwise ho-hum encounter.
There’s ample cover for Johnson at right back, including Brad Evans, his sub against Mexico. Klinsmann can use up to six substitutions for the Costa Rica game, since it is a friendly, and he’s likely to use them all given all the changes and the question marks about the team going forward.
How much this game can affect the start of qualifying play next month won’t be known until then.
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa/ENG), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Tim Howard (Everton/ENG).
Defenders: Ventura Alvarado (Club America/MEX), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/ENG), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana/MEX), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG), Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City/ENG).
Midfielders: Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes/FRA), Mix Diskerud (New York City), Jermaine Jones (New England), Lee Nguyen (New England), Brek Shea (Orlando City), Danny Williams (Reading/ENG), DeAndre Yedlin (Sunderland/ENG).
Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Toronto), Bobby Wood (Union Berlin/GER), Andrew Wooten (Sandhausen/GER), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy.
Costa Rica Roster:
Goalkeepers: Esteban Alvarado (Trabzonspor/TUR), Keylor Navas (Real Madrid/SPA), Patrick Pemberton (Alajuelense).
Defenders -- Jhonny Acosta (Alajuelense), Francisco Calvo (Saprissa), Oscar Duarte (Club Brugge/BEL), Cristian Gamboa (West Bromwich/ENG), Ronald Matarrita (Alajuelense), Dave Myrie (Herediano), Bryan Oviedo (Everton/ENG), Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps).
Midfielders -- Eloas Aguilar (Herediano), Celso Borges (Deportivo La Coruna/SPA), Mauricio Castillo (Cartagines), Oscar Esteban Granados (Herediano), David Guzman (Saprissa), Deyver Vega (Saprissa), Johan Venegas (Montreal Impact).
Forwards -- Joel Campbell (Arsenal/ENG), Daniel Colindres (Saprissa), Marco Urena (Midtjylland/DEN).