Thursday’s soccer news starts with three more World Cup qualifying points for the United States. How they got them in Columbus wasn’t straightforward. Costa Rica opened the scoring a minute in with unavoidable defensive positioning leaving the play onside. Sergino Dest chasing his mark over the endline became Dest slamming the ball into the top corner in the 25th minute, equalizing against Keylor Navas. With Nevas subbing out at halftime, Leonel Moreira was in goal when Timothy Weah’s shot ricocheted off Moreira and into the net.
2-1 over Costa Rica from a USMNT squad that played a comprehensive game all over the field. While both teams may wonder why the referee wasn’t awarding penalties and showing cards, the game didn’t bog down. Both teams showed a willingness to risk things in the run of play, leading to the kind of action that should be the hallmark of Concacaf. Still, it’s Concacaf. The USMNT had 64% of the possession and took 644 passes to Costa Rica’s 372. Shots on goal were five for the US and three for Costa Rica.
In other words, a game that statistically played out as expected in favor of the home team was more than that on the field. The first-half with Navas in goal had the USMNT working against his level of skill and their own issues with scoring in the opening 45. Dest’s shot addressed both of those, the highlight of the game and potentially resonating into November for a simple reason. It was disruptive, back footing the Costa Rican defense that thought they had the play covered.
While it isn’t the kind of high percentage shot that fits in well with a methodological approach to a game, it’s certainly high value. For Dest, it shows how much he can do around the box when he takes the risk of pushing well up the field. For the USMNT, it’s another option in a window where they lacked two creative attacking players. For the rest of the Octagonal, it’s a reminder of the talent level the US carries.
Canada sent a similar message after falling behind at home to Panama in the 5th minute. On their way to a 4-1 win, they also got a ridiculous goal. Alphonso Davies beat the sideline to keep the ball in play, finishing a run with the go-ahead goal in the 66th. Meanwhile, Mexico shutout El Salvador 2-0 on the road from a corner kick and a stoppage time penalty. While El Salvador never got a shot on goal, Mexico only held 54% of the possession and took 359 passes to El Salvador’s 316. El Salvador goalkeeper Mario Antonio Martinez faced six shots, but even playing a man down from the 48th to 67th minutes, there wasn’t the feeling that Mexico would take full advantage.
On the road in Concacaf is its own thing, and the US opened in the same situation with a scoreless draw. Mexico finding a way keeps them at the top of the table with 14 points to the USA’s 11. Canada is in 3rd with 10, and Panama holds the playoff spot with 8. Even last-place Honduras has drawn three games, stressing the competitiveness of the region as qualifying resumes next month with a two-game window.
SI’s Brian Straus looks at what worked for the USMNT against Costa Rica. ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle with what the USMNT got right in its approach to the October finale. The Washington Post’s Steven Goff reports from the USMNT’s win in Columbus. Fox Sports’ Doug McIntyre on Dest’s performance against Costa Rica. The Athletic’s Paul Tenorio highlights the players making a difference for the USMNT.
FRIDAY’S SOCCER TV
Bundesliga on ESPN2: Hoffenheim vs Cologne at 2:30pm. Ligue 1 on beIN Sport: PSG vs Angers at 3pm. Liga MX on TUDN: Necaxa vs Puebla at 8pm and Mazatlan vs Atlas at 10pm ET.
Step by step we continue to learn and grow. Love this team! pic.twitter.com/UyXo373JPQ
— Tyler Adams (@tyler_adams14) October 14, 2021
All links are provided as a courtesy. US Soccer Players nor its authors are responsible for the content of third-party links or sites. For comments, questions, and concerns please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo by John Todd – ISIPhotos.com