USMNT Qualify For World Cup Finals Despite 0-2 Loss To Costa Rica

Avoiding a 6-0 defeat to progress sounded very easy in theory, and duly the United States Men’s National Soccer Team managed to avoid such an ignominious result to qualify for the 2022 World Cup Finals in Qatar later this year.

With Mexico winning 2-0 against El Salvador at home to confirm their qualification, it was the Mexicans that finished second on goal difference in the group to Canada, with the United States grabbing the third qualifying spot, on goal difference over Costa Rica.

Costa Rica now move on to an inter-conference playoff in June where they will face New Zealand in Qatar for one of the three remaining places available at the World Cup, which starts in November this year.

The point that the US team landed in their 0-0 draw with Mexico ahead of their 5-1 win over Panama was the crucial result that saw Gregg Berhalter’s men qualify for the finals after missing out in 2018.


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United States Dominant But Costa Rica Strike

Going into the game, the United States knew that they needed to keep out Costa

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – MARCH 24: Hector Herrera (L) of Mexico fights for the ball with Giovanni Reyna (R) of United States during the match between Mexico and The United States as part of the Concacaf 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers at Azteca Stadium on March 24, 2022 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images)

Rica early and they achieved that well, dominating the possession and having more shots and shots on target in the game than their opponents.

However, in the second half, two quickfire goals from Vargas and Contreras in the 51st and 59th minute briefly gave Costa Rica fans hope of an unlikely qualification spot, but the United States showed real professionalism to close the game out comfortably and get the result they needed to qualify.

Admittedly, coach Berhalter won’t be happy with the loss, especially in a game where they dominated possession for long periods, but this was a game that was about qualifying in any way shape or form, and the US team did that comfortably.

Into Friday’s Draw And A Place In Pot B

The result means the United States go into the hat for Friday’s World Cup draw which will see the eight groups of four decided.

The United States join Mexico in Pot B of the draw, which is a good result for coach Berhalter. Canada, who topped the CONCACAF group in qualifying, dropped into Pot D on the back of their loss to Panama in their final game.

The Pots for the Draw have been announced by FIFA and are as follows:

Pot 1 – Qatar, Brazil, Belgium, France, Argentina, England, Spain and Portugal.
Pot 2 – Mexico, Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Uruguay, Switzerland, United States, Croatia
Pot 3 – Senegal, Iran, Japan, Morocco, Serbia, Poland, South Korea, Tunisia
Pot 4 – Cameroon, Canada, Ecuador, Saudi Arabia, Ghana, Wales or Scotland/Ukraine, Costa Rica or New Zealand, Peru or Australia/UAE.

The United States team cannot be drawn in the group stage against a CONCACAF rival, which means that they will avoid Canada from Pot 4 and also Costa Rica from the same pot if they qualify from their Inter-Conference Playoff game with New Zealand in June.

The full draw will be made in Qatar on Friday, after which plans will begin in earnest for the team to build up to the start of the finals.

What Are Team USA’s Chances At The World Cup?

Better than what they were in 2018. Back then, the United States team was in the midst of a real change of fortunes and it has taken the four-year cycle for a new, younger and talented generation of players to come through.

The likes of Sergino Dest, Ricardio Pepi, Weston McKinnie, Giovanni Reyna to name but four have improved the quality of the squad markedly and given players like Christian Pulisic more support.

Furthermore, with European football closed down during the World Cup, coach Berhalter will have the pick of all his star talent available to him without the worry of appeasing club managers.

What is interesting is how the USA team’s chances are perceived by those setting the odds. In the United States BetMGM Sportsbook are offering 80/1 on the USMNT winning the World Cup, a similar sportsbook in the UK rates their odds at more like 100/1.

Both of those assessments are about fair.

Success for the US team at the World Cup would be in reaching the knockout phase in what looks like being a tough group stage to qualify from. If they can do that, or even surpass those expectations, then coach Berhalter will have done a great job and set the team up nicely for the World Cup, which will be jointly hosted by the United States in four years’ time.

 

FEATURED IMAGE – SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA – MARCH 30: Tim Weah #21 of the United States salutes the fans during a FIFA World Cup qualifier game between Costa Rica and USMNT at Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica on March 30, 2022 in San Jose, Costa Rica. (Photo by Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Author: Paula Dunn