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USMNT set to face Costa Rica tonight in World Cup Qualifier

(Via U.S. Soccer) – After claiming the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup in July, the U.S. Men’s National Team returns to its quest to reach the 2018 FIFA World Cup with a crucial qualifier against Costa Rica on Friday, Sept. 1, at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. Coverage of USA-Costa Rica begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN, Univision and UDN.

U.S. MNT Roster by Position (Club; WCQ Caps/Goals):
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC; 14/0), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids; 36/0), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake; 0/0)

DEFENDERS (9): DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo; 34/6), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City; 11/1), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/ENG; 22/2), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca/MEX; 15/0), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas; 0/0), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest/ENG; 0/0), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 5/0), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna/MEX; 3/0), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City; 18/3)

MIDFIELDERS (9): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas; 4/0), Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 3/1), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union; 9/0), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC/CAN; 35/7), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach/GER; 16/1), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire; 0/0), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers; 7/0), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 9/5), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 0/0)

FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC/CAN; 38/16), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC; 39/18), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 3/0), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes; 0/0), Bobby Wood (Hamburg/GER; 10/4)

2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying – CONCACAF Final Round Standings
TEAM GP W L D Pts. GF GA GD
Mexico 6 4 0 2 14 9 2 +7
Costa Rica 6 3 1 2 11 9 4 +5
USA 6 2 2 2 8 11 8 +3
Panama 6 1 1 4 7 4 4 0
Honduras 6 1 3 2 4 6 14 -8
Trinidad & Tobago 6 1 5 0 3 3 10 -7

MATCHDAY 7 SCHEDULE

Friday, Sept. 1
USA vs. Costa Rica                            6:30 p.m. ET (ESPN, Univision, UDN)
Trinidad & Tobago vs. Honduras        7:45 p.m. ET (beIN Sports)
Mexico vs. Panama                            9:30 p.m. ET (Univision, UDN)

STORYLINES

HEAVY ON EXPERIENCE
With the Final Round reaching crunch time, Arena has called upon a group loaded with experience in World Cup Qualifying. A total of 12 players on the roster have made 10 or more FIFA World Cup Qualifying appearances: Clint Dempsey (39), Jozy Altidore (38), Tim Howard (36), Michael Bradley (35), DaMarcus Beasley (34), Geoff Cameron (22), Graham Zusi (18), Fabian Johnson (16), Omar Gonzalez (15), Brad Guzan (14) and Matt Besler (11). Additionally, 18 players earned themselves a medal by winning the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

SPREADING THE SCORING WEALTH
A total of 13 U.S. players have gotten on the scoresheet in 2017, and eight of them are on the roster for these qualifiers. Clint Dempsey leads all scorers with five goals, while Jordan Morris and Christian Pulisic each have four. Morris netted the championship-winning goal in this summer’s Gold Cup, while three of Pulisic’s goals have come in World Cup Qualifying including a pair in the 2-0 win against Trinidad & Tobago. Jozy Altidore scored in both the Semifinal and Final of the Gold Cup, and Michael Bradley’s wonder chip in Mexico City earned the MNT a vital point on the road.

FOURTEEN GAMES UNBEATEN
Having gone 14 games unbeaten since Bruce Arena returned as head coach, the U.S. MNT is in the midst of its second-longest undefeated run in team history. Arena has guided the side to a 9-0-5 record in 2017, helping the U.S. turn fortunes around by claiming eight points from its last four FIFA World Cup Qualifiers as well as guiding the MNT to the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup title in July. Should the U.S. avoid losses to Costa Rica and Honduras in the September qualifiers, it will match the 16-game record achieved during Arena’s first tenure as head coach in 2004 and 2005.

#GET3
Historically, qualifying for the World Cup through CONCACAF requires earning results at home, and once again the immediate focus for the MNT is getting three points against second-place Costa Rica. From the historic 1-0 win thanks to a Tab Ramos strike in 1997 to the last-minute goal by Jonathan Bornstein that led to a draw in 2009 in Washington, D.C., and the now famous Snowclasico of 2013there have been numerous classic home qualifiers against the Ticos. In terms of importance for reaching the World Cup, this one ranks right up there.

COSTA RICA COMING STRONG
With a 3-1-2 record in the Hex, Costa Rica has collected 11 points through six matches. When the United States handed them a 2-0 loss in the Gold Cup, it snapped a seven-game unbeaten streak (4-0-3) in which they conceded just three goals. Costa Rica has kept clean sheets in more than half of their last 16 games in all competitions (9), and in three of the six games in the Final Round.

QUALIFYING IN SEPTEMBER? IMPROBABLE, BUT POSSIBLE
Given the way the USA began the Final Round of World Cup Qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, would you believe it’s possible for the MNT to book its ticket to Russia by the end of the night on Sept. 5? While it could occur, a lot will need to happen on Friday and Tuesday for the U.S. to lock in qualification in September.

Here’s what will need to go down the next two matchdays:

Matchday 7                                         Needed Result
USA vs. Costa Rica                            USA WIN
Trinidad & Tobago vs. Honduras        DRAW
Mexico vs. Panama                            Mexico WIN

If all that happens on Friday night, the U.S. would then be able to clinch with the follow results next Tuesday:

Matchday 8                                         Needed Result
Honduras vs. USA                              USA WIN
Costa Rica vs. Mexico                        N/A
Panama vs. Trinidad & Tobago          Trinidad & Tobago WIN

GAME-BY-GAME: THE U.S. MNT’S HOME WCQ RECORD VS. COSTA RICA
The U.S. Men’s National Team has gone 6-1-2 in eight home qualifiers against Los Ticos. Here’s a game-by-game look at each meeting:

U.S. Home World Cup Qualifying Results vs. Costa Rica
Date Result U.S. Goal Scorers Round Location
May 31, 1985 0-1 L Semifinal Torrance, Calif.
April 30, 1989 1-0 W Ramos Final St. Louis, Mo.
Dec. 14, 1996 2-1 W McBride, Lassiter Semifinal Palo Alto, Calif.
Sept. 7, 1997 1-0 W Ramos Final Portland, Ore.
Oct. 11, 2000 0-0 D Semifinal Columbus, Ohio
April 25, 2001 1-0 W Wolff Final Kansas City, Kan.
June 4, 2005 3-0 W Donovan (2), McBride Final Salt Lake City, Utah
Oct. 14, 2009 2-2 D Bradley, Bornstein Final Washington, D.C.
March 22, 2013 1-0 W Dempsey Final Commerce City, Colo.

USA-COSTA RICA

  • Since first meeting in 1975, the U.S. Men’s National Team is an even 15-15-6 all-time vs. Costa Rica and 15-5-4 on U.S. soil.
  • The MNT is 6-9-3 in World Cup Qualifiers vs. Costa Rica, but 6-1-2 when those matches have been played at home.
  • The U.S. is unbeaten in its last eight home qualifiers vs. Costa Rica. The only loss came in a 1-0 defeat on May 31, 1985 in Torrance, Calif.
  • The teams met most recently during the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup Semifinal, when second half goals from Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey gave the USA a 2-0 win in Arlington, Texas.
  • U.S. MNT head coach Bruce Arena is 5-3-2 all-time vs. Costa Rica.

USA ROSTER NOTES:

  • A total of 12 players on the roster have made 10 or more FIFA World Cup Qualifying appearances: Clint Dempsey (39), Jozy Altidore (38), Tim Howard (36), Michael Bradley (35), DaMarcus Beasley (34), Geoff Cameron (22), Graham Zusi (18), Fabian Johnson (16), Omar Gonzalez (15), Brad Guzan (14) and Matt Besler (11).
  • Eighteen players logged time during the team’s June World Cup Qualifying matches: goalkeepers Brad Guzan and Howard; defenders Beasley, Cameron, Gonzalez, Ream, Jorge Villafaña and Zusi; midfielders Kellyn Acosta, Paul Arriola, Alejandro Bedoya, Bradley, Johnson, Darlington Nagbe and Christian Pulisic; forwards Altidore, Dempsey and Wood.
  • Eighteen players also took part in the U.S. MNT’s 2017 Gold Cup championship campaign: Acosta, Altidore, Arriola, Bedoya, Besler, Bradley, Dempsey Gonzalez, Guzan, Matt Hedges, Howard, Eric Lichaj, Dax McCarty, Jordan Morris, Nagbe, Cristian Roldan, Villafaña and Zusi.
  • In addition, most of the players have had significant time in front of the coaching staff, from January camp through the Gold Cup. A total of 15 players on the roster have five or more appearances under Bruce this year. Leading appearances are Villafaña and Zusi (11), while Acosta, Bradley, Gonzalez and Nagbe have 10 each.
  • Altidore, Arriola, Bedoya, Besler, Bradley and Cameron come into camp on World Cup Qualifying caution watch and will serve a one-match suspension with their next yellow card.
  • Six players will look to make their World Cup Qualifying debuts: goalkeeper Nick Rimando, defenders Matt Hedges and Eric Lichaj, midfielders Dax McCarty and Cristian Roldan and forward Chris Wondolowski.
  • Already tied with Landon Donovan as the USA’s all-time goal scoring leader at 57, with his next World Cup Qualifying appearance Dempsey (39) will also equal his former teammate at the top of the MNT’s all-time caps list in the competition.
  • With 18 goals, Dempsey is the U.S. MNT’s all-time World Cup Qualifying scoring leader, followed closely by Altidore at 16.
  • Dempsey is the U.S. MNT’s all-time leading scorer against both Costa Rica and Honduras. The veteran forward has tallied four goals (two in World Cup Qualifying) vs. Los Ticos and six (four in World Cup Qualifying) against Los Catrachos.
  • Bradley is the other player on the roster to tally a World Cup Qualifying goal vs. Costa Rica, finding the back of the net in a 2-2 draw on Oct. 14, 2009 in Washington, D.C.
  • In the teams’ most recent meeting Altidore and Dempsey each scored in the USA’s 2-0 Gold Cup Semifinal victory vs. Costa Rica on July 22, 2017 in Arlington, Texas.
  • Altidore, Bradley and Pulisic each have one World Cup Qualifying goal against Honduras with the later pair registering a goal in the USA’s 6-0 win on March 24 in San Jose.
  • With five games each, Altidore and Beasley lead the list of 13 players that have previous World Cup Qualifying caps vs. Costa Rica. The others: Bradley, Dempsey and Howard (4), Gonzalez and Zusi (3), Besler, Cameron, Johnson.
  • With two trips each, Altidore, Bradley and Howard lead the list of eight players that have experienced a World Cup Qualifier in Honduras. The others: Cameron, Dempsey, Gonzalez, Johnson and Zusi.
  • Defender Omar Gonzalez and midfielder Fabian Johnson shook off August injury concerns to be part of the September camp. Gonzalez went the full 90 minutes in Pachuca’s 2-1 defeat to Club Tijuana on Friday, while Johnson was an 80th minute substitute in Borussia Mönchengladbach’s 2-2 draw at Augsburg on Saturday.
  • Bobby Wood comes in to camp fresh off his game-winning goal in Hamburg’s 3-1 win vs. Köln on Friday afternoon. The forward has tallied twice in his first three matches of the season for Die Rothosen.
  • Similarly, Pulisic has gotten off to a hot start with Borussia Dortmund, tallying a goal against Bayern Munich in the German Super Cup, as well as a goal and assist in last week’s 3-0 win vs. Wolfsburg.
  • Paul Arriola joins the U.S. MNT for the first time as a D.C. United player. Following the Gold Cup, the midfielder had a brief return to Club Tijuana before completing a high-profile transfer to United on Aug. 9. Since his arrival at RFK Stadium, United has had a resurgence of sorts, going 3-1-0 in four matches.
  • Having contributed three assists during the Gold Cup Group Stage, Bedoya makes the short drive to New Jersey after scoring his first goal of the season in Philadelphia Union’s 2-2 draw vs. Atlanta United FC on Saturday night.

Costa Rica Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Leonel Moreira (Herediano), Patrick Pemberton (Alajuelense), Keylor Navas (Real Madrid/ESP)

DEFENDERS (9): Johnny Acosta (Herediano), Francisco Calvo (Minnesota United FC/USA), Cristian Gamboa (Celtic/SCO), Giancarlo Gonzalez (Bologna/ITA), Kenner Gutierrez (Alajuelense), Bryan Oviedo (Sunderland/ENG), Jose Salvatierra (Alajuelense), Michael Umaña (Pars Jonoubi/IRN), Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps FC/CAN)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Randall Azofeifa (Herediano), Cristian Bolaños (Vancouver Whitecaps FC/CAN), Celso Borges (Deportivo La Coruña/ESP), David Guzmán (Portland Timbers/USA), Bryan Ruíz (Sporting Lisbon/POR), Yeltsin Tejeda (Lausanne-Sport/SUI), Johan Venegas (Minnesota United FC/USA), Rodney Wallace (New York City FC/USA)

FORWARDS (4): Daniel Colindres (Saprissa), Josê Ortiz (Herediano), David Ramírez (Saprissa), Marco Ureña (San Jose Earthquakes/USA)

COSTA RICA NOTES

  • Costa Rica enters Matchday 7 sitting second with 11 points in the six-team group.
  • Los Ticos began the Final Round with a 2-0 win at Trinidad & Tobago before a 4-0 victory against the USA last November. A 2-0 defeat at Mexico and 1-1 draw in Honduras in March tempered expectations slightly before they bounced back with a 0-0 draw vs. Panama and 2-1 win vs. Trinidad & Tobago in June.
  • Seven Costa Rica players ply their trade in MLS: Cristian Bolańos and Kendall Waston (both Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Francisco Calvo and Johan Venegas (Minnesota United FC), Rodney Wallace (New York City FC, Marco Ureña (San Jose Earthquakes) and David Guzman (Portland Timbers)
  • Midfielder Christian Bolaños leads Costa Rica with four goals in 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying.
  • Los Ticos are without Arsenal midfielder Joel Campbell who suffered a long-term injury during the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup.