Team USA qualifies for World Cup despite loss to Costa Rica

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — The United States males are returning to the World Cup after the trauma of lacking the 2018 event, clinching a berth for this yr’s championship in Qatar on Wednesday despite a 2-0 loss to Costa Rica on the ultimate evening of qualifying.

Juan Pablo Vargas received behind Walker Zimmerman and headed Brandon Aguilera’s nook kick previous goalkeeper Zack Steffen within the 51st minute, and Anthony Contreras knocked in a cross off a scramble within the 59th after Steffen couldn’t maintain onto a free kick.

A sellout crowd of about 35,000 in National Stadium got here to life, however the Americans’ 5-1 rout of Panama at residence final weekend gave them an enormous goal-difference margin over Costa Rica. That meant the U.S. merely had to keep away from dropping by six targets or extra so as to declare an computerized berth by ending among the many prime three nations in North and Central America and Caribbean.

American gamers on the bench walked onto the sphere on the last whistle and exchanged handshakes and hugs with their teammates who ended the sport, whereas residence followers cheered the Ticos.

“It’s a proud moment for the team, proud moment for U.S. soccer,” U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter mentioned. “The team’s ecstactic.”

Yunus Musah battles Brandon Aguilera for the ball during the United States' loss.
Yunus Musah battles Brandon Aguilera for the ball through the United States’ loss.

Canada, which had clinched its first World Cup journey since 1986 with a win Sunday, completed first with 28 factors after a 1-0 loss at Panama, forward of Mexico on aim distinction. El Tri moved forward of the U.S. and clinched its eighth straight World Cup, whereas the U.S. completed third with 25 factors and a plus-11 aim distinction.

Costa Rica was fourth with 25 factors and plus-five, and the Ticos will meet Oceania champion New Zealand in a one-game playoff in June for a berth within the 32-nation discipline.

While the U.S. received six of seven residence video games with one draw, it completed with one victory, three losses and three ties on the street. The Americans have by no means received a qualifier in Costa Rica, dropping 10 and drawing two.

The U.S. finds out at Friday’s draw which three nations it’s going to face within the group stage, which begins Nov. 21 at a event pushed again 5 months to keep away from summer time desert warmth. A rising and more and more hypercritical fan base is hoping to see Christian Pulisic & Co. attain the quarterfinals for the primary time since 2002.

Giovanni Reyna dribbles ball past Costa Rica's Yeltsin Tejeda during the United States' loss.
Giovanni Reyna dribbles ball previous Costa Rica’s Yeltsin Tejeda through the United States’ loss.

“This group can do some damage,” Berhalter mentioned.

Defensive midfielder Tyler Adams left Wednesday’s sport at halftime with a bruise above his left knee.

Ticos coach Luis Fernando Suárez didn’t open with six starters from Sunday’s win at El Salvador who carried yellow playing cards, not wanting to danger a suspension for a playoff.

The clinch happened on the 1,267th day after a stunning 2-1 loss at Trinidad and Tobago that ended the Americans’ streak of seven straight World Cup appearances. Pulisic was in tears after the defeat, which led to a shakeup on the U.S. Soccer Federation and Berhalter’s hiring in December 2018 because the crew’s fourth coach in 25 months.

The U.S. has used 114 new gamers because the elimination, together with 88 underneath Berhalter. Thirty-eight gamers took the sphere through the 14 qualifiers plus six others had been on rosters with out getting in.

Berhalter has matches in June and September to assist consider a pool of maybe 4 dozen and select what at present is a roster restricted to 23.

A qualifying event that started with fireworks above the sphere through the opening minutes at San Salvador, El Salvador, on Sept. 2, ended with extra pyrotechnics.

The U.S. traveled 25,042 miles on charters — simply over circling the globe at 24,901 — plus gamers had up to 5 trans-Atlantic spherical journeys, with Germany-based Adams and England-based Antonee Robinson making the utmost. Games had been performed at 3 levels (minus-16 Celsius) in St. Paul, Minnesota, and 85 levels (29 Celsius) in Austin, Texas.

Not since Paul Caligiuri’s gorgeous aim at Trinidad earlier than the 1990 event had the U.S. clinched in its last sport. The Americans assured themselves of a berth with three video games to spare for 2006, two for 2014 and one sport for 1998, 2002 and 2010. All of these clinches had been with wins.

Qualifying is not going to be as onerous for the 2026 World Cup, which expands to 48 nations. The U.S., Mexico and Canada are co-hosts, and all three are anticipated to get computerized berths.

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