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U.S. Men's National Team

USMNT vs. Costa Rica: Live Commentary

Photo by Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Just one step away from the Gold Cup final, the U.S. Men’s National Team faces off with a familiar CONCACAF powerhouse in Saturday’s semifinal.

The USMNT takes on Costa Rica on Saturday with a spot in the Gold Cup finale on the line. The U.S. is fresh off a 2-0 win over El Salvador while Costa Rica edged Panama, 1-0, on an own goal to seal their spot in the final four. Defensively, Costa Rica will no doubt be the toughest test the USMNT has faced thus far in the tournament.

Bruce Arena made several changes to his starting XI, but the veteran core remains. Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, Tim Howard and Omar Gonzalez headline the group of familiar faces while Jordan Morris and Kellyn Acosta rejoin the XI. The backline alongside Gonzalez has been rotated with Graham Zusi and Jorge Villafana manning the fullback positions while Matt Besler jumps in at centerback.

The SBI staff will be offering updates and analysis in the comments section below, so feel free to follow along, and as always, please feel free to share your own thoughts and opinions below.

Enjoy the action.

59 comments
  • HTM

    Why is this game being played so late?Central time? Should be 7:30 or so… 9;00 is extremely late for a central start time

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  • Socceroo

    Zusi has some good qualities as an attacker, but it’s a little bit crazy that he’s our starting right back in a knockout match against Costa Rica.

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      • Socceroo

        Maybe. But how did we get into a situation where Zusi and Lichaj are our 2 choices? Are these guys really better than Michael Orozco, who was a starter just last year during the Copa America?

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      • Ryan Tolmich

        To be fair, Lichaj’s chance is long overdue while Zusi is a steady,reliable presence in the midst of a position switch. This is exactly the tournament where you do use these guys.

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      • Socceroo

        Indeed. Unfortunately that’s not very reassuring. Do you think Zusi and Lichaj are better than Orozco?

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    • Socceroo

      I guess I don’t see the logic behind the Zusi right back experiment. Maybe it was worth trying in January camp, but it didn’t go well. Then Bruce doubled down on it for the Gold Cup. Is he really thinking that Zusi will be on the roster as right back for us during World Cup qualifying and even in Russia?

      With Yedlin, Chandler, and Orozco available, and with Johnson and Cameron having extensive international experience at the position in case of emergency, why invest so many minutes in converting a 30 year old Zusi?

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      • whammmm

        Zusi is still in his late 20s, chandler has never shown any real desire to be a part of the US, lichaj is lichaj and orozco is orozco. Zusi and orozco are at least versatile. Our depth at either outside back position are not very good and right is worse than left. It’s going to be Zusi, and while I’ve said many times I’m a Zusi fan that doesn’t bode well for the US… especially if yedlin goes down.

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      • Socceroo

        Zusi will be 31 in 4 weeks. I’ve been a fan of his as well, but just not at right back. He’d be my 6th choice behind the guys I’ve listed, all of whom are known quantities at the international level.

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      • whammmm

        I don’t consider Johnson and Cameron. They’d be above Zusi if need be. No doubt about that. Its Zusi chandler or orozco. Pick your poison. Gun to my head to my head for yedlins backup… It’s Zusi. Johnson and Crameron are already there. Thought Zusi was 28-29, my mistake. I’m still taking him over chandler, orozco or lichaj. Eye test alone.

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      • Gary Page

        There were a number of people who thought it was crazy to put Beasley at LB 4 years or so ago when Klinsmann did it. I was one of those people. Remember he had been tried there before and been found wanting. But, he developed and it turned out to b e a success. It looks to me like Zusi is slowly but steadily improving. I wouldn’t give up yet on him.

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      • Ryan Tolmich

        Zusi has gotten better, in my opinion. It’s a work in progress, like you said, but he can definitely play a part there. He’ll never have the speed of Yedlin or Beasley, but he’s getting better defensively and he’s still very good on the ball. You could always use one of those guys, even if he’s not the starter.

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  • johnnyrazor

    Two deep midfielders again, Arena plays conservative once more. Nagbe needs to tuck in tonight and give Bradley and Acosta someone to pass to. Prepare your comments on Morris and Altidore doing nothing tonight, because they are unlikely to get any service. Bunker Bruce! Bunker Bruce! Bunker Bruce!

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      • Ryan Tolmich

        Haha didn’t take long, huh? But I agree. Interested to see who steps up to link the midfield and attack. Been an issue for the U.S. at times.

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  • Ryan Tolmich

    Just seconds into the match and Morris hits the post. How about that for a start?

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  • beachbum

    can Acosta and the rest of the midfield handle the inevitable fouls from behind and pressure from Costa Rica? we’ll see soon enough. great test

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    • Ryan Tolmich

      HUGE test for Acosta. Been up and down lately and Costa Rica is a different level. If he shines, it will say a lot.

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      • beachbum

        how about the US defensive look…not the flat 4 4 2 eh to absorb pressure but the opposite so far, US pressuring

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      • beachbum

        not bad so far, going to get rough tho I think, with diving in there too. Acosta got fouled from behind once and it was not called, great replays of it tho. We’ll see, but I expect hard early fouls from Costa Rica in the midfield to try to set a tone and rattle Acosta and all, intimidate them physically. Nagbe got creamed and basically was ineffectual afterwards, and I like him, but those hard whacks are used for a tactical reason

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      • beachbum

        instead it’s the US who has come out with 3 fouls from behind in the middle 3rd and one stupid one from Zusi in his own 3rd…but I like seeing the fouls from the US in there tactically

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  • beachbum

    Costa Rica force Gonzo to be the trigger man out of the back. so far so good, lots of teams try this with Gonzo over the years

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    • Socceroo

      Yes, I noticed that as well. One thing that is so great about the Cameron and Brooks combination is that they are both confident and effective at advancing the ball and picking out a good pass. With Omar we just don’t get that.

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      • beachbum

        team’s test him on it all the time and seems to me he’s always improved at it and after playing in Mexico even better now, more confident, my opinion. so far so good tonight and he’s got a pretty accurate long ball too

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      • Ryan Tolmich

        Really agree with this. The difference between Galaxy Gonzalez and Pachuca Gonzalez is incredible. So much better on the ball and under pressure. Is he Leonardo Bonucci back there? No. But he’s definitely gotten better at picking out a pass.

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    • Nate Dollars

      This stanning for zusi is getting cringe-worthy, whammmm. Pro Tip: if he’s as good as you want him to be, you wouldn’t have to try so hard.

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  • Tony

    Truth being told, this is a pretty Costa Rica team. A lot weaker than they were at the beginning of the tournament.

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      • Ryan Tolmich

        Definitely weakened. With European players gone + injuries, far from first choice Ticos team. Same for the U.S. though, so it is what it is.

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  • Ryan Tolmich

    Lots of possession for the USMNT so far but nothing really to show for it. Still, some positive signs against a very good Costa Rica backline.

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    • Ryan Tolmich

      SAVE HOWARD! Big stop for the USMNT goalkeeper, who saves a shot from Urena.

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  • I scored three goals in one game

    Has anyone noticed villafana has no right foot, everytime he cuts back to his right immediately cuts back left and try the cross with his left foot. Not nitpicking just an observation because some of his crosses are very poor.

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    • Ryan Tolmich

      Definitely some options for Arena in the attack. Would obviously expect to see Dempsey at some point. Zardes an option as well.

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  • beachbum

    interesting US look defensively, eh folks? what’s your take, what did you see? I know what I saw

    so far it’s worked pretty well but Costa Rica changed tactics late in the half to attack it and looked dangerous doing it, did you see that too?

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  • Ryan Tolmich

    Arriola has been an absolute monster these last 10 minutes or so. Costa Rica can’t contain him, but he just can’t find that final pass or cut. Speed is there. The final ball? Not quite. Would behoove the U.S. to keep going that way, though.

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  • Ryan Tolmich

    SAVE PEMBERTON! Great look for Acosta on a pass from Dempsey but Pemberton gets a palm to it. Dempsey making a quick impact.

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    • Ryan Tolmich

      GOAL ALTIDORE! Just seconds after a Tim Howard save, Altidore breaks through and fires the USMNT into the lead! Dempsey the creator. Perfect pass and Altidore slides the shot past Pemberton to make it 1-0.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ryan Tolmich

      If that’s his role, and he’s willing to accept that role, Dempsey has a part to play for quite awhile. Such a luxury to bring on a player that smart, that creative and that good to change a game like he has today.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ryan Tolmich

        State of the forward pool is definitely good. Good, young forward that are seemingly on the rise. Veteran in Altidore leading the charge. Super veteran like Dempsey off the bench. Plenty to think about heading towards Russia.

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  • Ryan Tolmich

    FINAL: USMNT 2, Costa Rica 0. Dempsey sub changes the game and the USMNT is onto the Gold Cup final.

    What were your takeaways from that match? Who stood out to you? Any final questions/comments? Send them our way.

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    • beachbum

      liked how the US possessed the ball with the lead. Howard came up Big, that’s what he does. Clint was a class above

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      • Ryan Tolmich

        Definitely agree with the first point. THAT is how you kill a game off. Make the other team chase and struggle while you suffocate them. All too often the USMNT has had to survive. Not tonight, and they deserve props for taking care of business like that.

        Howard? Agree. Huge game from him once again. Those saves changes the game. Dempsey far and away MOTM. The whole match shifted the second he came on. At the time, taking off Arriola looked questionable to me but that’s why Arena makes the big bucks.

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    • johnnyrazor

      Acosta looked so much better, when he didn’t have to be “the man” in CM as he did paired with Roldan. He and Bradley had much better spacing than say Bradley and Jones.

      2nd half changed when Clint came on and made it more a 4-4-1-1. Morris in midfield scared me though until that 2nd goal.

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      • Ryan Tolmich

        It’s almost like young players feel a little bit more comfortable alongside veteran. In all seriousness, though, Acosta plays at another level when alongside Bradley. He’s free to just be a pitbull throughout the midfield, but, like you said, he doesn’t try and be the hero all the time. He needs to find that balance, and all signs point to that eventually happening. At some point, he’ll have to be “the man” but he doesn’t have to be now nor should he try to be.

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