Little doubt remains for the 2022 World Cup status of the United States, but the job is not yet officially done.
That’s the task as the USMNT travels to Costa Rica, a traditional House of Horrors destination, but still not a place likely to rob the U.S. of a place in Qatar, like Trinidad and Tobago so cruelly did four years ago.
The United States has never won a World Cup qualifying match in Costa Rica, garnering just a single point in history there, but it would require a cataclysmic six-goal defeat to snatch a spot at the 2022 World Cup from the USMNT’s clutches.
MORE: Which teams are in the 2022 FIFA World Cup draw?
Still, the team has preached that no spot is safe until it is mathematically secured, and the U.S. will look to not only pick up a historic result on Costa Rican soil, but officially confirm a return to soccer’s greatest tournament in doing so.
Sporting News will be following the match live and providing score updates, commentary and highlights as they happen.
Costa Rica vs. USA live score
(All times Eastern)
13th min: CHANCE, USA! Timothy springs Ricardo Pepi down the right, and the U.S. striker rips a shot from a tight angle that Navas has covered. It’s saved out for a corner. Another good chance for the visitors who are poking and prodding Costa Rica in the opening 15 minutes.
8th min: CHANCE, USA! Miles Robinson is a force on these corners! Pulisic’s delivery this time is better, and it comes to the feet of Robinson who unleashes a volley. The shot is vicious, but Navas gets just enough of his palms on it to keep it from trickling over the line. An excellent shot, but a better save from one of the world’s best goalkeepers. First real chance of the match falls to the visitors.
If Keylor is not the best GK in the world, I don’t know what we are doing.
— Michele Giannone (@MicheleG3) March 31, 2022
4th min: Corner swung in by Pulisic — an outswinger — is a little deep, and it meets the head of Miles Robinson but it’s from too deep and easily collected by goalkeeping legend Keylor Navas.
Jenny Chu reporting for CBS states that Adams had to get some of the cold spray on the sideline, and both Cristian Roldan and Luca de la Torre are warming on the sideline. A worry for the U.S.
3rd min: The U.S. may already be dealing with an injury, something to monitor. Costa Rica with a lot of possession early, but since the push forward in the opening seconds, it’s mostly been in Costa Rica’s own half.
Two minutes in and Tyler Adams is limping around the field. Think he may have taken a knee to the quad.
— Paul Tenorio (@PaulTenorio) March 31, 2022
1st min: Kickoff! Costa Rica is right on the attack, which is no surprise given the situation of the match. Some nervy early moments, but it’s snuffed out.
🚨 THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ARE 90 MINUTES AWAY FROM QUALIFYING FOR THE WORLD CUP 🚨
— CBS Sports Soccer (@CBSSportsSoccer) March 31, 2022
9:00 p.m.: National anthems are on. Everybody knows the stakes, for both sides. Here we go!
#usmnt has been in the World Cup. What they haven’t done is win in Costa Rica. That’s the correct message from Berhalter to his players. Focus is on winning. Rest takes care of itself.
— Jeff Wallner (@JeffWallner) March 31, 2022
8:36 p.m.: Some more info regarding Costa Rica’s lineup, which has seen a number of starters benched due to yellow card fears. Just along the back line alone, Juan Pablo Vargas has four international caps, Daniel Chacon has one, Carlos Martinez is making his debut. Up front, Anthony Contreras earns his second cap, while Jewison Bennette gets his fourth. It’s a very green lineup throughout.
The intent here from the USMNT is to leave no doubt.
Costa Rica’s focus is on New Zealand.
Field players in the starting XIs during WC qualifying
Appearances: USA 86; CR 30
Minutes: USA 5,884; CR 1,268
Waston accounts for 10 appearances, 570 mins for CR. https://t.co/6GDFQUhJWv
— Kyle Bonagura (@BonaguraESPN) March 31, 2022
8:18 p.m.: MASCOT PARTY!
Costa Rica is the ridiculous mascot hotbed of CONCACAF pic.twitter.com/7b4ikNrVqn
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) March 31, 2022
It’s all happening. pic.twitter.com/O6XY7Ahv5i
— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) March 31, 2022
8:03 p.m.: USA lineup has been submitted, and it’s a strong one, with the U.S. not backing down despite overwhelming odds in its favor. In fact, it’s the exact same starting lineup from the 0-0 draw at the Azteca.
Zack Steffen starts for the third time, even though Berhalter essentially said he wouldn’t. DeAndre Yedlin and Tim Weah both return to the starting lineup after serving yellow cards suspensions against Panama. Ricardo Pepi is back at striker despite Jesus Ferreira’s strong performance in Orlando.
For Costa Rica, as expected a number of top players on a yellow card are not risked, with the team playing to have its full strength lineup for the intercontinental qualifier. Full lineups below.
7:57 p.m.: The odds are stacked against Costa Rica, but the atmosphere before the match is still jumping in San Jose.
Gonna be a great atmosphere here tonight. pic.twitter.com/usLmMWy66i
— Paul Tenorio (@PaulTenorio) March 30, 2022
7:49 p.m.: History be damned! The U.S. has never won on the road at Costa Rica in World Cup qualifying before, but bettors are backing the U.S. to clinch in emphatic fashion tonight nonetheless.
The United States Men’s National Team can clinch a spot in the World Cup tonight.
90% of ML bettors are riding with Team USA vs. Costa Rica tonight 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/UcOzeVTUTi
— DraftKings Sportsbook (@DKSportsbook) March 30, 2022
7:22 p.m.: It’s been a while since the U.S. qualified for a World Cup…but who’s counting?
It has been 3,123 long days since we last qualified for a Men’s World Cup. Today is the day we change that America 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/pBwYrGyEKy
— Men in Blazers (@MenInBlazers) March 30, 2022
7:10 p.m.: The new FIFA match ball for the 2022 World Cup was released today. Can the U.S. secure a spot in the tournament and position itself to be playing with this adidas beauty come November?
⚽️ ‘Al Rihla’, the Official Match Ball of the 2022 Qatar #WorldCup has been released.
Let’s face it, it’s no 2014 Brazuca! 🇧🇷🔥
Where does it rank against balls from recent tournaments? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/EAqtArlQsF
— 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐒𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐍𝐞𝐰𝐬 UK 🇬🇧 (@sportingnewsuk) March 30, 2022
7:00 p.m.: The United States just needs to avoid a loss by six goals or more to qualify for the World Cup. The U.S. hasn’t lost a match by a scoreline that bad since a 6-0 loss to France at the Meadowlands in 1979. Bernard Lacombe scored a hat trick in that match, three of his 12 career international goals for Les Blues.
With the 5-1 win over Panama Sunday night, the USMNT has a 6-goal buffer between them and the last automatic qualification spot in CONCACAF.
They will qualify for Qatar if they avoid losing their last qualification match by 6 goals, something the USMNT has avoided since 1979. pic.twitter.com/ZmFTvyleW7
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 28, 2022
Costa Rica vs. USA lineups
Due to CONCACAF and FIFA’s World Cup qualifying yellow card suspension rules, there was an enormous amount of uncertainty regarding Costa Rica’s possible starting lineup against the United States.
While only red card suspensions picked up in World Cup qualifying carry over to the World Cup itself, yellow card suspensions apparently do carry over to the intercontinental playoff. Costa Rica has a whopping nine players who would earn a suspension with a yellow card, including Francisco Calvo, Bryan Oviedo, Celso Borges, Joel Campbell, Alonso Martinez, and Keysher Fuller, all of whom started the last match against El Salvador, plus substitutes Bryan Ruiz and Johan Venegas.
Therefore, it was believed that Costa Rica would proceed with a game plan against the U.S. that utilizes a “B” team, conceding to the unlikelihood of direct qualification and instead securing its best players are available for selection in the intercontinental playoff in June. That hunch was proven right, as the likes of Brandon Aguilera, Jewison Bennette, and Anthony Contreras come into the side to replace cautioned regulars.
Costa Rica starting lineup (5-4-1): Navas (GK) — Lawrence, Waston, Vargas, Chacon, C. Martinez — Bennette, Aguilera, Galo, Mora — Contreras.
Costa Rica subs (11): Moreira (GK), Alvarado (GK), Lopez, Salas, Oviedo, Ruiz, Venegas, Campbell, Tores, Martinez, Tejeda, Ortiz.
Despite the “Qualified” banner mishap, the United States has preached since the end of the Panama match that the job is not quite done. And unlike Costa Rica, unless disaster strikes, yellow card suspensions are no longer a worry, as those do not carry over into the World Cup itself. So a strong XI is expected.
Tim Weah returns from his yellow card suspension to start on the wing, as Paul Arriola was withdrawn at halftime of the Panama match with a knock and does not appear on the bench. Reggie Cannon is back from his COVID-19 bout, but so is DeAndre Yedlin who also returns from a suspension to start.
MORE: Berhalter quieting critics with impending World Cup berth
Christian Pulisic starts for the third match of three, but the captain’s armband goes to Walker Zimmerman this time. Gio Reyna has not started a match this window due to his hamstring recovery and a stomach bug picked up in Mexico, and Berhalter indicated he’s still feeling the effects of it, so yet again the Dortmund man sees the bench.
Luca de la Torre was excellent in each of his last two starts against Honduras and Panama, and Gianluca Busio looked good off the bench in Orlando, but Yunus Musah returns to the midfield instead.
In-form goalkeeper Ethan Horvath was thought to be an option in goal after Berhalter stated earlier in the window that players not starting for their clubs (hint: Zack Steffen) should’t be expected to start all three matches. Still, it’s Steffen at goalkeeper, with Berhalter going against his public word. Ricardo Pepi is back up front despite Jesus Ferreira‘s goalscoring performance against Panama.
USA starting lineup (4-3-3): Steffen (GK) — A. Robinson, Zimmerman, M. Robinson, Yedlin — Acosta, Adams, Musah — Pulisic, Pepi, Weah.
USA subs (11): Horvath (GK), Moore, Sands, Palmer-Brown, Long, Roldan, Bello, de la Torre, Reyna, Morris, Pefok, Ferreira.
How to watch Costa Rica vs. USA
- Date: Wednesday, Mar. 30
- Time: 9:05 p.m. ET
- TV channel: CBSSN
- Spanish-language TV: Universo
- Streaming: fuboTV, Paramount+
Wednesday’s match between the United States and Costa Rica from the Estadio Nacional in San Jose, Costa Rica will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network (English) and Universo (Spanish) in the USA.
Those channels are streamed on fuboTV, and new users can take advantage of a free trial. The match will also be streamed on Paramount+ for subscribers.
Costa Rica-USA betting lines, picks & prediction
Odds courtesy of DraftKings
U.S. fans have been mulling over how Berhalter should play this match, but the sportsbooks aren’t looking at this match with such a complicated lens. This is a match between a team that struggles to score and is likely to put out a “B” team against a team that has been historically awful at this venue.
The U.S. isn’t an overwhelming favorite, but still with plus odds to come away victorious. Also, a low scoring game is expected. The sportsbooks are probably not wrong on both counts.
MORE: World Cup qualification scenarios for USMNT
Historically, the U.S. has scored one goal or fewer in every World Cup qualifying match in Costa Rica except one. More recently, the U.S. has one road goal this entire World Cup qualifying cycle when you remove a 4-0 win over last-placed Honduras. On the other hand, Costa Rica hasn’t scored more than two goals in any match this entire qualifying cycle, and has been shut out more times (five) than it has scored two goals in a match (three occasions).
With the U.S. happy to sit back and allow Costa Rica’s sputtering attack to possess the ball while hitting on the counter — which is exactly what it did to Panama at home — this should be a comfortable match for the United States with plenty of wiggle room. While the U.S. struggles against teams that play counter-attacking ball, they showed on Sunday they themselves can be lethal on the break.
Sadly, the under is set so low (at just 2 goals) that it’s not a viable option, so go for a U.S. win against a chopped and changed Costa Rican lineup that allows for raising the under bar.
Pick: USA win & under 3.5 goals (+130)
Prediction: Costa Rica 1, USA 2
- Moneyline: Costa Rica +245 / Draw +215 / USA +115
- Spread (Asian Handicap): Costa Rica +0.5 (-140) / USA -0.5 (+120)
- O/U 2 total goals: Over -105 / Under -120
- Both teams to score: Yes +120 / No -155