USA News

USMNT advance to World Cup after stunning 2018 qualifying loss: NPR


Costa Rica’s Ian Lawrence (right) vies for the ball with United States player DeAndre Yedlin during their CONCACAF qualifying match for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 in San Jose, Costa Rica on Wednesday.

Ezequiel Becerra/AFP via Getty Images


hide caption

toggle caption

Ezequiel Becerra/AFP via Getty Images

USMNT advance to World Cup after stunning 2018 qualifying loss: NPR

Costa Rica’s Ian Lawrence (right) vies for the ball with United States player DeAndre Yedlin during their CONCACAF qualifying match for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 in San Jose, Costa Rica on Wednesday.

Ezequiel Becerra/AFP via Getty Images

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — The United States men return to the World Cup after the trauma of missing the 2018 tournament, earning a spot in this year’s championship in Qatar on Wednesday despite losing 2-0 to the Costa Rica on the final night of qualifying.

Juan Pablo Vargas found himself behind Walker Zimmerman and headed Brandon Aguilera’s corner past goalkeeper Zack Steffen in the 51st minute, and Anthony Contreras hit a cross on a run in the 59th after Steffen couldn’t hold off a free kick.

A sold-out crowd of around 35,000 at the National Stadium came alive, but the Americans’ 5-1 rout of Panama at home last weekend gave them a huge margin of goal difference on the Costa Ric. This meant that the United States simply had to avoid losing by six or more goals in order to claim an automatic spot by finishing among the top three nations in North and Central America and the Caribbean.

The American players on the bench entered the pitch at the final whistle and exchanged handshakes and hugs with their teammates which ended the game, while the home fans cheered for the Ticos.

“It’s a proud moment for the team, a proud moment for American football,” said USA coach Gregg Berhalter. “The team is delighted.”

Canada, which clinched its first World Cup trip since 1986 with a victory on Sunday, finished first with 28 points after a 1-0 loss in Panama, ahead of Mexico on goal difference. El Tri edged out the United States and won their eighth consecutive World Cup, while the United States finished third with 25 points and a plus-11 goal difference.

Costa Rica finished fourth with 25 plus-five points, and the Ticos will face Oceania champions New Zealand in a playoff in June for a place in the 32-nation field.

While the United States won six of seven home games with one draw, they finished with one win, three losses and three draws on the road. The Americans have never won a qualifier in Costa Rica, losing 10 and drawing two draws.

The United States finds out in Friday’s draw which three nations they will face in the group stage, which begins November 21 in a tournament pushed back five months to avoid the desert summer heat. A growing and increasingly hypercritical fan base is hoping to see Christian Pulisic & Co. reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 2002.

“This group can do damage,” Berhalter said.

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

Ticos coach Luis Fernando Suárez didn’t start with six starters from Sunday’s victory in El Salvador having yellow cards, not wanting to risk a playoff suspension.

The clinch came on the 1,267th day after a shocking 2-1 defeat at Trinidad and Tobago ended the Americans’ streak of seven consecutive World Cup appearances. Pulisic was in tears after the defeat, which led to a shakeup of the United States Soccer Federation and the hiring of Berhalter in December 2018 as the team’s fourth coach in 25 months.

USA have used 114 new players since elimination, including 88 under Berhalter. Thirty-eight players took the field in the 14 playoffs and six more were on the rosters without entering.

Berhalter has games in June and September to help assess a group of perhaps four dozen and choose what is currently a limited roster of 23.

A qualifying tournament that began with fireworks above the pitch in the opening minutes in San Salvador, El Salvador on Sept. 2 ended with more pyrotechnics.

The United States covered 25,042 miles on charters – slightly more around the world at 24,901 – and players had up to five transatlantic round trips, with Germany-based Adams and England-based Antonee Robinson making the maximum. Games were played at 3 degrees (minus-16 Celsius) in St. Paul, Minnesota, and 85 degrees (29 Celsiush) in Austin, Texas.

Since Paul Caligiuri’s superb goal in Trinidad before the 1990 tournament, the United States had not won their last game. The Americans secured a spot with three games to lose for 2006, two for 2014 and one game for 1998, 2002 and 2010. All of those clinches were with wins.

Qualifying won’t be as onerous for the 2026 World Cup, which expands to 48 nations. The United States, Mexico and Canada are co-hosts, and all three are expected to get automatic spots.


npr

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.

remon

Passionate troublemaker. Amateur gamer. Lifelong alcohol specialist. Social media nerd. Thinker
Back to top button