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USMNT vs. Costa Rica: SBI Live Commentary

Photo by Jerome Miron/USA Today Sports

The U.S. Men’s National Team can’t clinch a spot in Russia on Friday night, but a win over Costa Rica at Red Bull Arena would go a long way towards booking a spot at the 2018 World Cup.

In the aftermath of this summer’s Gold Cup run, the U.S. returns to World Cup qualifying on Friday night still with some work to do heading towards the final four matches. Entering Friday’s match, the U.S. sits third in the Hexagonal, trailing Mexico and Los Ticos while maintaining a one-point gap fourth-place Panama.

For those looking for some pregame reading, check out the SBI Pregame Tailgate for a look back at the week that was. The match is set to kickoff at 6:55 p.m. ET and will be shown on ESPN.

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.


  1. This should have been the lineup from the beginning. Fabian Johnson has never played well as a midfielder at this level. Better as a wingback option

      • It wasn’t just the calls that were bad, either. His game management was awful as well. Should’ve played advantage at least twice. Set pieces were taking hours in the second half. And how could he not get out of the way of that thirty yard Bradley pass?

  2. It’s halftime. Your best backline player has been Zusi. Nuff said…
    So do you take out Fabian now and play Deuce underneath the 2 strikers?

  3. Ream a disaster, Cameron not much better,, Villafana barely adequate, you know you’re in trouble when your best defensive back is Zusi. CR passes better, controls the ball better and is much better organized defensively. The US definitely needs a good finisher and we’re not getting it from the players in the game. Dempsey needs to play. FJ has been largely invisible, replace him with Deuce.

  4. Back 4 very shaky. Cameron lots of give aways. I hold my breath when ream gets near the ball… also need more from FJ, looks lethargic.

    And on the goal Ream and Howard just get beaten….simple

  6. Wood a buzz kill on many attacks. he turned successfully twice in the first half I believe, each time something dangerous occurred and a 3rd time he was fouled. otherwise his consistently poor first touch has been a bummer

    US recovery D has been awesome, Nagbe in particular has stopped potential counters on his own, but the entire team has done well there and has had to because of the turnovers from both centerbacks and the big gaps at times from the weakside centerback not pinching over

    Zusi a pleasant surprise so far; they went after him hard early and often and he held up. I’d bet they try him the same way in the 2nd half so he’ll need to remain sturdy

    I say Clint for Wood to start the 2nd half

    • Agree on Zusi. Might have been the most consistent player on the field in the first half. Wood has been up and down and with Costa Rica bunkering, his speed isn’t as important. His workrate could be key, though.

  7. HT: Costa Rica in front on Urena’s goal. USMNT attack pretty toothless. Defense struggling. Expect changes for second half, one of which will probably be Dempsey.

    Who would you bring in? What are your takeaways from the first half? Let us know and feel free to fire some questions my way.

    • Yeah, it’s all just a bit flat. Lots of moving either side-to-side or backwards. Arena threw his hands up after one of the backpasses.

    • 4′ Solid possession from the U.S., who have played with fire a few times as Costa Rica presses. Nagbe goes down after a hard foul, but he appears to be alright.

      • 7′ Turnover from Ream and Costa Rica almost breaks through. Cleared away. Nervy moment from the Fulham defender.

      • 11′ Zusi whips in a free kick after Pulisic is fouled. Headed away as far as Nagbe, whose cross is cleared out.

      • 13′ Another big play for Zusi before Pulisic SKINS Bryan Oviedo. Guzman picks up a yellow for the ensuing foul. Ridiculous stuff from Pulisic.

      • 16′ First real USMNT chance goes to Pulisic, who whacks a shot from a tight angle that doesn’t trouble Navas.

      • 24′ Altidore dragged down from behind in the box, but the ref waves it off. Stadium explodes as play continues, but Pulisic fires it high.

      • 26′ Chance for Altidore after Bradley forces a turnover. Dragged out wide, Altidore’s shot is blocked by a mess of players and cleared away.

      • 30′ GOAL COSTA RICA! Los Ticos break through on the left and Ream gets isolated one-on-one. Urena dances around and cuts to the outside before rolling a shot past Tim Howard to give Costa Rica the 1-0 lead.

      • 35′ Aside from the American Outlaw drums, the life has been sucked out of RBA. Very quiet with some sporadic noise in between Ticos chants.

      • 45′ Big collision as Cameron clatters into Navas. Both players up and okay. One minute of stoppage time coming.

  8. I’m just hoping not to see this “possession soccer” that is so much in vogue now and results in endless passing with little forward movement and almost no shots on goal.

    • Costa Rica would have ZERO problem letting the U.S. play that type of possession soccer. This Ticos team is looking to counter, and fast. U.S. can’t afford bad giveaways, but would expect them to have a bulk of possession.

  9. I feel great about that front 6… I’d certainly rather have Yedlin in there than Zusi, but I’m not surprised by that at all. I’m guessing Dempsey on for FabJo (push Pulisic wide) in the 60th, unless we are up 3 goals.

    Ryan – who is in the 18 tonight?

    • Hedges, Wondolowski and Roldan are the three not in uniform tonight.

      Yedlin’s injury certainly a downer because he is on that other level. That Dempsey sub makes sense if Johnson isn’t 90 minutes fit, which he insists he is. Interested to see if this starts as a flatter 4-4-2 with Pulisic wide and Nagbe central or it’s more of a 4-1-2-1-2.

  10. What’s up all? Checking in from Red Bull Arena now and it’s a PERFECT night for soccer. Great weather and atmosphere is already picking up one hour before kickoff.

    Lineup was just released as well: Howard, Villafana, Ream, Cameron, Zusi, Bradley, Johnson, Nagbe, Pulisic, Wood, Altidore.

    What does everyone think? Any pregame thoughts/questions? I’ll be here throughout the match to answer/discuss what should be a fun one.

    • Just a few minutes until kickoff. Looks like there will be a big stadium-wide tifo display. Teams are all warmed up and back in the locker room.


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