Commentary

Costa Rica-USA Men's World Cup Qualifying Player Ratings

COSTA RICA-USA EXPRESS:
March 30 in San Jose
Costa Rica 2  USA 0. Goals: Vargas 51, Contreras 59.
Att.: 35,000.
* * * * * * * * * *

The USA's World Cup qualifying losing streak at Costa Rica increased to 10 straight on Wednesday. But Coach Gregg Berhalter's team, needing a win, a tie, or a loss by less than six goals to seal its 2022 World Cup spot, accomplished the mission by losing 2-0.

USA Player Ratings
(1=low; 5=middle; 10=high.)

GOALKEEPER

Zack Steffen  swatted the air as Juan Vargas' 8-yard header flew into the net. Dropping the high free kick cross from Brandon Aguilera kept the play alive ahead of the second Tico goal.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)

3
Zack Steffen (Manchester City/ENG) 29/0 (26)

DEFENDERS

Right back DeAndre Yedlin faded after early surges that included winning a corner kick and a cross that required keeper Keylor Navas's punch. Left back Antonee Robinson partnered with Steffen on the blundering that facilitated Costa Rica's second goal and played sloppily at the other end during left-wing attacks. Miles Robinson, with ample time to tee-up, slammed his 8th minute half-volley straight to Navas on the USA's best scoring chance. Walker Zimmerman mis-timed his leap on Costa Rica's corner kick goal. On a chance to a finish a rebound, Zimmerman sent his half-volley way high in the 48th minute.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)

4
DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami) 73/0 (28)

4
Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC) 28/3 (28)

4
Miles Robinson (Atlanta United) 20/3 (25)

3
Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG) 25/2 (24)

MIDFIELDERS

Kellyn Acosta took free kicks as if the object was to bruise someone in the wall. His defensive lowlights came by ceasing to mark Juan Vargas as he scored the opening goal off a corner kick and giving the ball away with a pass out of bounds shortly ahead of the second goal. The free kick that led to the second goal was gifted to Costa Rica by Yunus Musah with a clumsy foul on Aguilera, who was facing his own half with nowhere to go when Musah took him down. Tyler Adams came off after an uneventful 45 minutes.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)

5
Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP) 16/0 (19)

5
Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER) 27/1 (23)

4
Kellyn Acosta (LAFC) 51/2 (26)

FORWARDS

Christian Pulisic, fouled seven times by the Costa Ricans, needed a stronger supporting cast. Nice also would have been if Ricardo Pepi had set Pulisic up for a sitter instead trying a narrow angle shot on Navas in the 12th minute. Pepi's second-half shot from the edge of the penalty area required a slightly greater effort from Navas. Pepi delivered a nice pass to Tim Weah for a shot that was blocked in a rare U.S. highlight sequence started by Pulisic's free kick for a Miles Robinson header that Navas parried.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)

4 
Tim Weah (Lille/FRA) 22/2 (22)

4
Ricardo Pepi (Augsburg/GER) 11/3 (19)

6 
Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG) 47/21 (23)

SUBSTITUTES

Coming off the bench, Luca de la Torre  failed to spark offense as he did as a starter against Panama. Gio Reyna's clever 71st-minute pass to Pulisic led to a Musah shot blocked by a defender, but his only shot flew high. 


Player (Club) caps/goals (age)

4
Luca de la Torre (Heracles/NED) 7/0 (23)

5
Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER) 12/4 (19)

5
Shaq Moore (Tenerife/ESP) 15/1 (25)

4
Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas) 9/3 (21)

4
Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders) 46/10 (27)

TRIVIA: The USA has now lost 10 straight World Cup qualifiers at Costa Rica after a 1-1 tie -- in 1985 during its unsuccessful 1986 World Cup qualifying campaign in their first of 11 meetings. The USA's worst loss was the 4-0 defeat in 2018 World Cup qualifying after which Jurgen Klinsmann was fired. 

March 30 in San Jose
Costa Rica 2 USA 0
. Goals:  Vargas 51, Contreras 59.
Costa Rica -- Navas (Alvarado, 79); Martinez, Chacon, Watson (Tejeda, 64), Vargas, Lawrence; Mora (Martinez, 65), Galo, Aguilera (Lopez, 68), Bennette (Ortiz, 79); Contreras.
USA -- Steffen; Yedlin (Moore, 61), Zimmerman, M.Robinson, A.Robinson; Musah, Adams (de la Torre, 46), Acosta; Weah (Reyna, 61), Pepi (Ferreira, 61), Pulisic (Morris, 84).
Yellow cards: Costa Rica -- Mora 63, Galo 81. USA -- none. Red cards: none.
Referee: Drew Fisher (Canada).
Att.: 35,000.

Stats:
COSTA RICA/USA
Shots: 12/15
Shots on target: 5/6
Saves: 6/3
Corner Kicks: 3/12
Fouls: 17/9
Offside: 0/0
Possession: 35%/65%
34 comments about "Costa Rica-USA Men's World Cup Qualifying Player Ratings".
  1. Peter Bechtold, March 31, 2022 at 6:30 a.m.

    Surprised to see the starting line-up of players going for a third match in one week(plus long travel between games). Clearly HC GGG wanted to break the streak of 9 straight losses in CR. Another example of his poor judgement resulting from insecurity IMHO. I wanted to see Bello,  Horvath, Brooks, DLT from the beginning, also different forwards, calling in Scally and Sargent in what was a borderline meaningless game. Opportunity lost. What will they do in Qatar?

  2. Santiago 1314 replied, March 31, 2022 at 7:08 a.m.

    "Mission Accomplished".??? When will People Learn NOT to Hang Banners before the Job is Done.???
    Peter; You are so Correct: Opportunity Lost.!!!
    Everything should be based on One Question:
    WILL THIS PLAYER/TACTIC HELP THE USA WIN THE WORLD CUP 2026.
    And so we are NO Closer to knowing if Bello, Scally, CCV, EPB, Horvath, Sargent, Busio Will Help the Group or Not...
    You say It's his "Insecurity"; I think he is Afraid to Develop/Integrate  these Players, because it would mean NO MLS Players on the Roster.

  3. Santiago 1314, March 31, 2022 at 7:12 a.m.

    LUSA de La Torre was a 7... Only Player to show any "Soccer Brain" on the Field.
    The Rest get "0"s...
    THAT WAS CRAP.!!!

  4. Wooden Ships replied, March 31, 2022 at 3:50 p.m.

    I like Torre too. He sees the game faster than his teammates. Our players off the ball aren't usually ready for him. He's head and shoulders a more penetrating minded attacker. He knows what to do with the ball before it arrives and if not immediately marked, begins positive. 

  5. Kent James replied, March 31, 2022 at 5:51 p.m.

    LDLT was very skillful and creative on the ball.  My only concern was that he was sometimes the last man back (essentially) while taking people on.  A player like that needs to be higher up the field (I think he was coming back to get the ball, which is fine, I just think he needs to take fewer risks when he has no help if he loses the ball).  But I agree, he deserved a better score.  One of the few bright spots in the 2nd half.

  6. John Polis, March 31, 2022 at 8:41 a.m.

    Three games in three different countries in a COVID-19-reduced seven-day window, more than 5,000 miles of air travel: This qualifying round for 2022 has been brutal for all the teams and I'm glad it's over. Kudos to everyone for getting to the big dance. It will be fun watching all our players get healthy and build toward November. In many previous World Cup qualifying campaigns there was at least one week between most games and sometimes longer periods of time. Not so this time around. Hopefully we won't have to go through anything like this again. The US has an up-and-coming group of players. It can be competitive with many teams, but there is a caveat. We need every single one of our best players to be available. Even with just a few out like Dest, McKennie and Reyna, it's a big dent. Now let's get everyone ready and make a run in Qatar.

  7. Richard Beal, March 31, 2022 at 9:03 a.m.

    I would give Reyna a 2.

  8. Philip Larkin, March 31, 2022 at 9:27 a.m.

    Without McKennie and Adams on the field more pressure on defense. Why was Adams subbed? Injured? He was favoring a leg.

  9. frank schoon, March 31, 2022 at 9:36 a.m.

    First of all, I've got to give the coach of Costa Rica lots of credit...I know nothing about CR but I heard the announcer say 9 of his players are not on the field. He is fielding a very young team, a team that is not their strongest team. I am very impressed with #9 the 17year old CR. We have no player like him of his quality, and technical skill. They gave us a game. 

    Here is what distinguishes CR from USA. Everyone of their players, CAN HANDLE A BALL, all having good foot work. Furthermore what seperates them from our players is that they all can handle the ball under pressure in small spaces. You notice even when they are pressed next to the sideline,they can shield the ball, still able to pass the ball to his teammate 2meters away and able to control it...Also they DON'T LOSE THE BALL IN 1V1 SITUATIONS. They can operate in small spaces in small groups. WE ARE UNABLE TO DO THAT...Because of this CR can hold on to the ball, play possession, keep the ball away from our TURBOS . Note at midfield they will have 5,sometimes 6,players around the midline, they're controlling the situation. The only time they lose the ball is through a bad pass after passing around 3or 4 stations going downfield.

    I would ask, the USSF coaching/training dept. how these Costa Rican players develop. How much time on pickup and whatever else for man for man ,all these players can handle a ball. I think, SA should interview a Costa Rican player on how the average youth develops because obviously they have much better ballhandling than our kids. Can you imagine how much money we spend on our kids developing , there is no way a Costa Rican is spending that type of money.....

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  10. Bob Ashpole replied, March 31, 2022 at 10:19 a.m.

    Frank, for decades USSF has occasionally sent people to observe first hand how the most successful countries develop their players. The people go, have a great time, report what they saw, and then nothing changes.

  11. frank schoon replied, March 31, 2022 at 2:54 p.m.

    Bob, aware that but I thought that an interview giving a CR player a chance to expain how they learned and developed as a youth, which could be informative to our readers/coaches/ players....

  12. Bob Ashpole replied, March 31, 2022 at 4:59 p.m.

    Yes, I agree. It would make an interesting article.

    I would rather have an interview with Hugo Perez. He has the best and most current knowledge of soccer in the US and soccer in the less wealthy nations of CONCACAF.

    I would trust his opinions over anyone elses.

    But there is no reason we can't have both.

    From my own limited understanding, I don't think soccer in any country of the world is homogeneous. Holland for example. The opportunities outside the metropolitan area are limited similar to the US. A nations most successful programs are usually not typical of everywhere. Holland has Ajax, Bolivia has Tahuichi, Spain has Barca. None of these programs were run by the nation's FA. That speaks to me. This is something that I have had much experience. Large bureaucracies produce average results. They don't produce exceptional talent. The exceptional talent is created by something different than the conventional. Or else the talent would not be exceptional.

    This is why I believe that we only need one soccer center to break though to the next level. Our Amsterdam and Ajax. Or if you perfer our Barcelona and Barca. One USYSA state association out of 55. Imitation follws success. At one time I had hoped that ethnic soccer would provide that initiative, but then 30 years ago I saw rich white parents use local politics to exclude Hispanic leagues from accessing parks and school facilities in Northern Virginia. They basically captured all the facilities for their exclusive control. Exclusive being the appropriate word.

  13. frank schoon replied, March 31, 2022 at 5:18 p.m.

    The problem I find is that SA does not do enough of digging when it comes to player development.
    They basically interview your standard coaches here with American backround like the players. I would like to see interviews from players that come from Costa Rica and/or different hispanic countries to talk about how the youth are being developed , what is their major influence.
    We have never had SA interview de Boer or Tata on what they think about how Americans develop

  14. William White replied, March 31, 2022 at 9:22 p.m.

    Spot on!!!

  15. frank schoon, March 31, 2022 at 10:09 a.m.

    I hate to keep harking on CP but he deserves it. This kid is not learning, doesn't play smart nor thinks the game. Everything he does is centered around him and he ball.  The moment he receives, he want to beat opponents who outnumbered him, that's the first problem. Everything he does ball oriented, his position his stands if toward the ball. He position in a manner so he sees the ball and the opponents( usually plural). He doesn't think 'I let these opponents commit to me than who can I pass to who is open for obviously 'I've CREATE SPACE FOR SOMEONE ELSE'. Instead, it's   'I will take them all on for i'm the savior of American soccer'. As a result he often finds himself on his ass, constantly complaining like a little girl to the ref. He needs to man up.

    CP needs to realize he is an asset to the team not with the ball so much but without the ball for he draws more than one defender to him...that's a PLUS by not only creating space for another  teammate, but also it CP should think first how can I position in order to pass quickly off and then run into space to avail himself for the next situation. But he doesn't do that, he mentality is 'I"m taking these guys on '....Someone needs to tell him what he's doing wrong and show him ,otherwise he wont' learn.

    If I was the coach , I would tell him to not take all the dead ball kicks, corners,etc., constantly switch off, throwing the opponents defense off kilter. Right now, he does all the kicks allowing the opponents to get use to who to guard. But switching CP off with other players  causes a consternation among the defenders. For example, CP makes the intention he's going kick the ball ,but all of sudden, he runs into the receiving group and let's say ,Weah runs out of the waiting group towards the ball to kick it. This throws the defense off in that split second as the ball is kicked. 
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  16. Bob Ashpole replied, March 31, 2022 at 10:26 a.m.

    Frank, I think that is how he has been coached. The old "give the ball to Mikey" game plan. I also think that he is used to playing with great players now and our NT players just don't make the decisions and movements that he is used to at the club.

    From my experience, it is rare to find a player who can adjust his play to those around him. But that is another bonus of playing pickup.

  17. frank schoon replied, March 31, 2022 at 2:56 p.m.

    Bob, you're right that is how he's been coached and currently....But I can't believe that GB and his staff of assistant lap coaches with their computers aren't able to see that and tell him....It's not rocket science, but common sense

  18. Bob Ashpole replied, March 31, 2022 at 5:20 p.m.

    Frank, I don't think that GB has a clue how to coach the attack. That is why everything is so disjointed, while we concentrate on pressing and "building out of the back". It is a defender's slanted view of the game. He played a bit for lesser clubs in Holland after college. So he had a defender's view there of some opponent's using positional play. The bulk of his experience was in Germany, playing in the defensive third, and his coaching ideas reflect that.

    If there is anyone on staff that knows how to attack, I don't think GB defers to them. What he does use is the conventional garbage that has come out of USSF since it took exlcusive control on coaching education. Limiting the role that USYSA used to play in player development.

  19. Philip Carragher replied, March 31, 2022 at 5:38 p.m.

    Frank and Bob, I've watched a few Soccerbox TV shows hosted by Gary Neville and really enjoyed the one with Wayne Rooney. When he was first playing as a 17/18 year old for Man U and scoring magnificent goals, after games he'd go home and play street soccer. Gary Neville couldn't believe it. He said that after games he'd go home, eat Chinese food, and go to sleep. I coached a varsity high school girls team years ago and one of my best ball handlers, a junior, spent the summer playing street soccer. She was a great dribbler. The next summer her goofy boyfriend, also a varsity soccer player, had her in the weight room rather than playing in the street and she lost her dribbling mojo.

  20. frank schoon replied, March 31, 2022 at 6:15 p.m.

    Philip, weights are the bane of soccer....I don't know anyone who has ever improved their due to weights...

  21. frank schoon replied, March 31, 2022 at 6:32 p.m.

    Bob, neither am I impressed with GB nor with his assistance

  22. frank schoon, March 31, 2022 at 10:33 a.m.

    The US manner of play and attack has become too PREDICTABLE.
    I find Jedi Robinson sometimes deeper downfield then CP, who likes to come back towards midfield and ofcourse with his backfacing downfield, with his eye on the ball away from all the attacking options downfield. This is not CP strongest position. He should be down he sideline facing, able to his speed and or attacking passing options,speeding up the tempo of attack. 

    CP needs to begin to play just a simple game, that fits his current ability. DON'T GO MESSING AROUND MIDFIELD, for it requires more capabilities he's not good at. He just tries too hard and too much, he runs everywhere and tries to do everything....

    Antonee, is first and foremost DEFENDER!!! but he's beginning to think he's an attacker , making everything predictable. The effect of Jedi committing much further upfield forces Miles Robinson to support him and thereby creating a big gap between  him Zimmerman, this forces Adams to drop back out of the midfield to fill that space thus creating one less midfielder. 

    Another problem we have is that we have no SHOOTING ability from our midfielders our second line of attack. Our right flank, especially Weah, beginning to look predictable, although once in a while he makes a nice move, but basicly he relies on turbo. Pepi unfortunately is learning German type of soccer and he's not getting better as a striker for that's not what Germans produce,instead midfielders. Should give Sargent a try, see how he would do...why not? for Pepi is not the answer... 

  23. Wooden Ships replied, March 31, 2022 at 3:53 p.m.

    Vines sees the game like Torre, properly. 

  24. frank schoon replied, March 31, 2022 at 4:42 p.m.

    Ships, who is Vines? De la Torre, is playing in a disciplined manner, always stays behind the ball, positions in a manner who get into a 50/50 fight, shields the ball well...He's learned well playing in Holland and besides he was former winger....He's able to move ball well and doesn't lose tempo....

  25. frank schoon replied, March 31, 2022 at 4:49 p.m.

    Ships ,who is Vines?  De la Torre has learned well playing in Holalnd. He's very disciplined, looks  around before  receiving the ball for the next passes passes, shields the ball on the dribble, stays behind the ball, always positiones in a manner to avoid 50/50 balls and he doesn't slow but keeps up the tempo of play......I wish we had a few more of them on the team....

  26. Wooden Ships replied, March 31, 2022 at 6:26 p.m.

    Sam Vines, left back, playes for Antwerp. Came up thru the Colorado Rapids academy. Smooth, with foot skills and vision. Knows how to combine really well and can deliver the ball where needed. 

  27. Ben Myers, March 31, 2022 at 11:15 a.m.

    I remain flabbergasted at GB's selection of Morris and Zardes, but he is more comfortable with his MLS roots than with international play and players playing at the top level in other countries. The overall selection of players by GB for this three match set is also confounding.  GB is the true misfit for this USMNT.

    Fatigue and unavilability of a few of the best players played a part in this loss.

  28. John Munnell, March 31, 2022 at 11:51 a.m.

    "We don't talk about Steffen!" Glad to see comments in other publications about how bad Steffen was for this whole window. He was bad in every phase and certainly failed in providing the one critical save needed in all big games. Tim Howard got famous for it and Matt Turner put himself in the picture for such important saves. 

  29. Wooden Ships replied, March 31, 2022 at 3:56 p.m.

    My choice is Horvath, has been. Best command of the area we have. With the knowledge of where we stood going into San Jose it was shocking to not see Ethan, bet he was shocked too. 

  30. Kent James replied, March 31, 2022 at 5:56 p.m.

    Agreed.  Steffens did not help his cause.  You switch the keepers, and the score is completely different.  

  31. Santiago 1314 replied, March 31, 2022 at 6:55 p.m.

    John; you missed my Post from yesterday;


    Santiago 1314 replied, March 30, 2022 at 4:25 p.m.

    Sam... As for GK
    I am just Guessing, but, I doubt that Steffen will be able to Maintain his Body.
    That situation the other day in the Game, was BIZARRE.!?!?!?
    And He always seems to do something STRANGE every Game.
    He is trying to Mimic the Brazilian GK that Plays ahead of him at Man City.
    Horvath is still a bit of an UnKnown Quantity...
    But, Has Yet to Dissapoint when he has gotten the Opportunity


  32. William Thomas, March 31, 2022 at 12:58 p.m.

    Too bad the US doesn't make the game more watchable.

  33. Santiago 1314 replied, April 1, 2022 at 12:03 p.m.

    Especially with the Squad we have.!!!

  34. James Madison, March 31, 2022 at 2:32 p.m.

    Brooks was not called in and shouldn't be.  If Yedlin cannot do better, he too should be history. PUlisic's rating was inflated.

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