The United States Men’s National Team closed out their Concacaf Nations League with a resounding 4-0 win over rivals Costa Rica. Manager Gregg Berhalter heavily rotated his side, making nine changes from the team that beat Mexico in the Nations League final three days prior. The depth available for the Stars and Stripes was evident, and the result was never in doubt against the Ticos.
The U.S. got off to a quick start and never took their foot off the gas. RB Salzburg midfielder Brendan Aaronson opened the scoring in the eighth minute with an emphatic finish into the roof of the net. Orlando City striker Daryl Dike capped off his first international start with his first international goal in the 42nd, calmly slotting a shot home after Mark McKenzie played him through on goal.
It didn’t take the Americans long to add to their lead in the second half. Boavista right-back Reggie Cannon got his first goal in a U.S. jersey in the 52nd minute, hitting a low drive to the near post with his weaker left foot. And Borussia Dortmund’s Gio Reyna capped off the scoring, converting a penalty he earned just minutes after coming on as a substitute.
From a local perspective, Walker Zimmerman earned his 14th cap as a halftime substitute, but was hardly tested in his 45 minutes on the pitch. Randall Leal also played the entire second half, but couldn’t impact the match against a dominant U.S. side.
With the energy of a thrilling win over Mexico behind them, the U.S. played without pressure and put in a confident and free-flowing display.
1. Plenty of competition in attacking spots. While Christian Pulisic and Gio Reyna are currently at the top of the pecking order, there’s plenty of high-level talent knocking down the door for a starting role. Brendan Aaronson was excellent all night on the left wing. Timothy Weah was consistently dangerous on the right, and Daryl Dike once again showed that he is lethal within 20 yards from goal. Gregg Berhalter will have the headache of narrowing down his options to fit into a starting eleven, but has the benefit of multiple exceptional options off the bench.
2. Depth is primed for World Cup qualifying. In the new World Cup qualifying format, forced by the Covid pandemic, each international window will see teams play three qualifiers instead of the traditional two. The U.S. added this friendly against Costa Rica for that exact reason, to give themselves a test run, and they showed that they have the depth to handle it. Playing three games in six days isn’t easy for any team, but there’s an argument to be made that the U.S. have more high end depth than anyone in Concacaf. They beat the other three highest FIFA ranked teams in the span of three days, and will have an entirely different group push for minutes in the Gold Cup. This team has options, and plenty of them.
3. Vindication for Berhalter? It’s hard to draw too much from this window. A Nations League victory is certainly a nice trophy to add to the case, but the real test comes this fall. That being said, Berhalter’s side overcame fairly underwhelming performance against a difficult Honduras side and a disastrous start against Mexico to earn two wins, and then cruised to victory over Costa Rica. The outlook for this team feels completely different now than it did after the Honduras match. Heading into their first real test under Berhalter, there’s plenty to be positive about.
United States: Horvath; Cannon, McKenzie (Zimmerman 46′), Ream, Robinson (Dest 82′); Musah (Acosta 75′), Adams (Yueill 62′), Lletget; Weah (Reyna 74′), Dike (Siebatchea 75′), Aaronson
Costa Rica: Moreira; Fuller, Salazar (Borges 46′), González, Calvo, Mora; Torres (Lassiter 46′), Tejada, Alfaro (Leal 46′); Campbell (Cruz 64′), Venegas (Montenegro 64′)
Shots: USA 11 – 8 CRC
Shots on goal: USA 5 – 2 CRC
Goals: USA 4 – 0 CRC
Possession: USA 64.8% – 35.2% CRC
Total passes: USA 572 – 306 CRC
Fouls: USA 13 – 18 CRC
Yellow cards: USA 1 – 1 CRC
Red cards: USA 0 – 0 CRC