The United States is looking to boost their chances of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup when they host Costa Rica on Friday, September 1 at the Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. The USA only have two wins during the second round of the qualifying stages, but they are just six points behind leaders Mexico and three points away from Costa Rica.
In the USA vs. Costa Rica game last November, the Ticos humiliated the Americans with a 4-0 win at the Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica. The Yanks are not only going for revenge, but they are also trying to avoid fourth place, where they have to go through the play-off stages to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The USA have a lot of momentum heading into the game since they are fresh off of winning the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup, per Star and Stripes of SB Nation. The Americans went undefeated in the tournament, compiling a record of 5-1 with wins over El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Jamaica in the knockout stages.
On the other hand, Costa Rica will be boosted by the return of Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas after missing the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Navas was not called up by Costa Rica for that tournament to give him a rest after a very busy campaign with Los Blancos.
In the pre-match press conference (h/t ESPN FC), USA head coach Bruce Arena told reporters that their game against Costa Rica is critically important. Arena pointed out the fact that there are only four games remaining, and they have to win every game in order to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
“Starting the campaign with two losses certainly put the team a little bit behind. We’ve gained ground since then, but there are four games left and they’re very important. Every game has been do or die for us. I’m not sure there’s been a whole lot of comfort. Every game we’ve played in the competition has been a ‘must’ game, so I’m not sure it’s been a heck of a lot easier.”
Bruce Arena is going to be without defenders DeAndre Yedlin and John Brooks, but he called up Omar Gonzalez to beef up the side. Despite those two absences, the USA and Arena have Christian Pulisic, who might be their best player at the moment even though he is only 18-years-old. Pulisic is expected to start in midfield for the USA, with Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey up front.
Costa Rica, on the other hand, has a very healthy lineup coming into the game in New Jersey. According to GOAL.com, defender Christian Gamboa is the only player doubtful for Costa Rica against the USA. Gamboa was nursing an injury earlier this week, but he is reportedly fit and ready to play on Friday.
The USA vs. Costa Rica is scheduled for Friday, September 1 at the Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. The game starts at 3:55 p.m. PT, 6:55 p.m. ET, and 11:55 p.m. BST. However, it is only available in the USA and not in the United Kingdom. Fans in the USA can watch the game on television thru ESPN and via live stream on WatchESPN.
[Featured Image by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images]