Costa Rica vs. United States
2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup, Semifinal Round
AT&T Stadium – Arlington, Texas
Saturday, July 22 – 10 p.m. ET
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Two familiar foes that are also among the tournament favorites are set to meet with a place in the final on the line, and they will both be hoping for their best performance yet after looking less than convincing to this point.
The US national team and Costa Rica will collide in a CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal match on Saturday night after navigating their way through the quarterfinals on Wednesday. Both sides will be looking for better showings after prevailing in Philadelphia with subpar outings. Costa Rica’s attack was held at bay but Los Ticos advanced via an own goal in a 1-0 win over Panama while the US looked sloppy and flat, especially in the midfield, in a 2-0 victory vs. El Salvador.
Neither team has tasted defeat in this tournament and both have tried to play aggressively during the majority of their matches, so it will be interesting to see how they each approach this showdown. Regardless, this could be a tight affair that ends up being decided by one play.
While the attack has been very hit and miss, the Costa Rican defense has been impressive. The back line has led Los Ticos to their first semifinals appearance since 2009, conceding just one goal and posting three shutouts in four matches. Kendall Waston helped lead the way in the triumph against Panama in his first appearance in this Gold Cup, and will aim to build on that when Costa Rica square up against a US attack that has netted nine goals.
“It feels good,” Waston said following the Wednesday win. “It feels very good to make the semifinals with the national team. Now we’re ready for the next game and trying to get in the finals.”
Costa Rica’s attack will likely have to come to life if they wish to advance, however. Los Ticos have netted six goals this tournament, but half of those came in one match and another was not by their doing but rather by an own goal.
COSTA RICA 23-PLAYER SQUAD
Goalkeepers (3): Dany Carvajal (Saprissa / CRC), Leonel Moreira (Herediano / CRC), Patrick Pemberton (Alajuelense / CRC)
Defenders (9): Johnny Acosta (Herediano / CRC), Francisco Calvo (Minnesota United FC), Giancarlo Gonzalez (Palermo / ITA), Kenner Guiterrez (Alajuelense / CRC), Jhamir Ordain (Herediano / CRC), Jose Salvatierra (Alajuelense / CRC), Michael Umaña (unattached), Juan Pablo Vargas (Herediano / CRC), Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps)
Midfielders (7): Randall Azofeifa (Herediano / CRC), David Guzman (Portland Timbers), Jimmy Marin (Herediano / CRC), Bryan Ruiz (Sporting CP / POR), Ulises Segura (Saprissa / CRC), Yeltsin Tejeda (FC Lausanne-Sport / SUI), Rodney Wallace (New York City FC)
Forwards (4): Jose Leiton (Herediano / CRC), David Ramirez (Saprissa / CRC), Ariel Rodriguez (Bangkok Glass FC / THA), Marco Ureña (San Jose Earthquakes)
Manager: Oscar Ramirez (Costa Rica)
Another underwhelming performance was once again enough for the US to beat an underdog in the competition, but they acknowledged after topping El Salvador that things have to improve in order to reach the final. After all, the Americans know that Costa Rica will likely provide their stiffest test to date.
“We can’t be coming out flat like that,” said Jozy Altidore after the shutout win against El Salvador. “As games get tougher, a good Costa Rica team will punish you early on for coming out like that.”
Unlike the Costa Rican side that is missing some key players because of injuries, the US will have the benefit of having as fully-loaded a squad as is possible here. Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Tim Howard, Darlington Nagbe, and Altidore all played on Wednesday after being called in as reinforcements, and they will likely see the field again in this do-or-die tilt.
USA 23-MAN ROSTER
Goalkeepers (3): Jesse Gonzalez (FC Dallas), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids)
Defenders (8): Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca / MEX), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest / ENG), Matt Miazga (Chelsea / ENG), Justin Morrow (Toronto FC), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna / MEX), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Midfielders (8): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana / MEX), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana / MEX), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Chris Pontius (Philadelphia Union), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)
Forwards (4): Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC)
Manager: Bruce Arena (USA)