United States reliance on youth pays off in comeback win over Costa Rica

United States reliance on youth pays off in comeback win over Costa Rica


COLUMBUS, Ohio — As Sergino Dest and Tim Weah have been making their method again to the United States bench after being substituted, the 2 offensive heroes pumped up the house crowd at Lower.com Field. Dest high-fived teammates, in addition to a couple of followers. Weah discovered time to present his jersey to somebody in the gang. Even although there have been about 17 minutes left in Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier in opposition to Costa Rica, they each confirmed their exuberance and confidence that the U.S. may see out the remainder of the match.

That the U.S. did, prevailing 2-1 over the Ticos to seize an important three factors in its World Cup qualifying quest.

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The power displayed by Dest and Weah was becoming in that this was a match the place youth triumphed over expertise. The U.S. beginning lineup, averaging 22 years and 61 days, was the youngest it had ever fielded in a World Cup qualifier. Costa Rica, in the meantime, put out a beginning XI with six gamers over 30. And its youngest participant, 27-year-old Keysher Fuller, was older than the U.S.’s oldest participant, 26-year-old goalkeeper Zack Steffen. The distinction turned much more pronounced later in the sport when 39-year-old ahead Alvaro Saborio, 37-year-old midfielder Christian Bolanos and 33-year-old defender Kendall Waston all entered the match.

The U.S. definitely confirmed its inexperience at instances, not the least of which was falling behind with lower than a minute elapsed on the clock. But the U.S. confirmed loads of resilience in recording a win that probably places it second in the Octagonal standings.

“For us to be navigating through this CONCACAF qualifying — which is a bear, a monster — with this group, and the amount of poise they showed on the field today, particularly going down a goal, and then the second half being up a goal and managing the game really well,” mentioned Berhalter after the match. “I mean, Gianluca Busio comes on, and he looks like he’s 30 years old. So I’m proud of the effort. The guys showed a lot of poise and they’re growing. They’re growing as a team.”

The begin could not have been extra inauspicious. Less than a minute into the match, Steffen — one thing of a shock starter after Matt Turner had began the primary 5 matches — got here off his line to clear a by ball together with his head, nevertheless it did not remove the hazard. With the U.S. protection scrambling to get again in form, Ronald Matarrita discovered a large open Fuller on the far submit to sidestep previous Steffen.

Yet this youthful U.S. workforce did not crumble. In truth, it instantly seized the initiative, and even because the U.S. seemed overeager with a few of its passing, it was first to quite a lot of second balls and put constant stress on the Costa Rica aim.

“We weren’t nervous at all,” Weah mentioned. “Obviously it was a bummer to take the goal pretty early in the game. But we knew what our game plan was, and it was to expose their backline and I feel like we did that. The outside backs played a huge role today. The wingers played great. Everyone played great so it was us coming together and just staying focused and adding that intensity.”

The concern was that with all-world goalkeeper Keylor Navas in web for the Ticos, it was going to take one thing otherworldly to get on the scoreboard. Dest delivered exactly that, taking a cross from Yunus Musah close to the nook of the field, shifting the ball to his supposedly weaker left foot and unleashing a rocket into the highest nook that left Navas with no probability. Not even the truth that his shoelace was untied may cease him.

“I think it was [Weston McKennie], he made the run in behind and the guy follows him, so there was space for me,” Dest mentioned. “I just got put inside and I thought like the only thing I could do at the moment was just shoot it, because we had to score. We are 1-0 down, so I felt like you know, we needed this point so I was just trying to show it and it was an amazing goal.”

A important level in the match got here at halftime when it was revealed that Navas had suffered an adductor harm and must be substituted for by Leonel Moreira. Without its talisman in web, the sport was there for the taking.

The U.S. finally took benefit in the 66th minute, as Dest turned supplier for Weah, whose tight-angled drive went off Moreira, hit the submit and trickled in. It formally went down as an personal aim, although Berhalter mentioned he would attempt to get that modified.

Still, it was an enormous second for Weah, who solely discovered 5 minutes earlier than sport time that he can be beginning after Paul Arriola was injured throughout the warm-up. And simply previous to the aim he seen he was about to be subbed out.

“I saw [Matthew] Hoppe and DeAndre [Yedlin] on the sideline getting ready to come in, so I kind of had the idea that I was gonna get subbed out,” he mentioned. “But my goal was just to stay focused on till then and it just so happened at the ball came out wide to Serge and I saw the run and I just hit it one time and it happened to go in. It’s just being focused in those moments.”

It was a redemptive efficiency for the U.S. following final Sunday’s loss to Panama, however particularly for Dest. Much has been anticipated of the defender, he of the Ajax and now Barcelona pedigree, but he has endured a rollercoaster journey in qualifying, struggling over the last window, particularly when enjoying on the left aspect of the U.S. protection. In this window, Dest succeeded in elevating his stage, and in this match, he was the difference-maker that followers and teammates alike anticipated.

“It’s almost like the sky’s the limit for [Dest]. He could be as good as he wants to be,” mentioned Berhalter. “You saw today with his attacking play, it’s unreal. For Serge it’s just hanging in there mentally, really pushing himself to be to be the best when he’s on the field.”

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The United States’ Tim Weah shoots a missile into the online to place his nation up by a aim.

Dest admitted that qualifying video games in CONCACAF are “an eye-opener” and a distinct world from what he is used to in Europe. He famous that the depth is excessive, and the opponents are hardworking.

“And it’s just physical,” he added.

But Dest and his teammates are studying they will play that card as nicely. And they wanted to make use of their bodily attributes — and brains too – to get previous the Ticos. One second that crystallized the duty going through the U.S. was when defender Miles Robinson gave the ball away in the second half, sparking Costa Rica captain Bryan Ruiz on an obvious breakaway. But Robinson ate up the yards in ravenous style and snuffed out the risk. Costa Rica simply did not have the legs.

In the method, the U.S. banished some ghosts too. It was the Ticos who despatched the U.S. workforce’s qualifying effort throughout the 2018 cycle right into a tailspin with a 2-0 highway victory. Four years later, this Costa Rica workforce is clearly one that’s in transition. But it is a foe that also must be vanquished, and the U.S. this time protected its residence turf.

The win allowed the U.S. to probably sit in second place in the Octagonal standings, pending Mexico’s end result in opposition to El Salvador. The six factors in this window are a smidgen lower than what was anticipated, on condition that getting a draw in Panama was doable. But the highway goes to get harder. The residence encounter with bitter rivals Mexico looms, as does a highway tilt in opposition to Jamaica, which seemed revived after a 2-0 highway win in opposition to Honduras. The U.S. might want to play with extra consistency.

But thus far youth has served the U.S. nicely, and not less than for the second, the qualifying marketing campaign is again on monitor.

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