COLOMBUS, Ohio – While Sergino Diest and Tim Weah were on their way back to the US bench after being substituted, the two attacking champs thrilled the crowd at Lower.com Stadium. Dest’s colleagues are famous, as well as a few fans. Weah found time to give his shirt to someone in the crowd. Although there were around 17 minutes left in Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica, both showed enthusiasm and confidence that the United States could see the remainder of the game.
This is what the United States did, winning 2-1 over tekos To get three vital points in their quest to qualify for the World Cup.
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The energy that Dest Weah displayed was fitting because this was a match where the youths beat experience. The United States’ starting lineup, with an average of 22 years and 61 days, was the youngest lineup to ever compete in a World Cup qualifier. Meanwhile, Costa Rica had a starting lineup with six players over 30. Its youngest player, 27-year-old Kesher Fuller, was older than the oldest player in the United States, 26-year-old goalkeeper Zach Stephen. The difference became even clearer later in the game when 39-year-old striker Alvaro Saborio, 37-year-old midfielder Christian Bolanos and 33-year-old defender Kendall Waston entered the match.
To be sure, the United States has shown its inexperience at times, not the least of which is lag with less than a minute on the clock. But the United States showed a great deal of resilience in scoring a win that would likely put it second in the eight rankings.
“For us to sail through this CONCACAF qualifier – a bear, a beast – with this group, and the amount of poise they showed on the field today, especially when they drop a goal, and then the second half is ahead,” Berhalter said after the game. He appears to be 30 years old. So I am proud of this effort. The guys showed a lot of poise as they grew up. They grow as a team.”
The start couldn’t be more inauspicious. Less than a minute into the game, Stephen – who looked surprised after starting Matt Turner in the first five games – slid out of his line to head a through ball, but it didn’t eliminate the danger. With the US defense looking to get back in shape, Ronald Mataretta found a wide-open opportunity Fuller in the far corner to overtake Stephen.
But this young American team did not collapse. In fact, she immediately grabbed the lead, and even when the USA looked very excited with a few passes, they were first on many second balls and consistently pressed Costa Rica’s goal.
“We weren’t nervous at all,” Weah said. “Obviously it was difficult to score so early in the game. But we knew what our game plan was, that was to expose their line of defense and I feel we did. The outside full-back played a big role today. The wingers played great. Everyone played well. Great so we’ve been working together and staying focused and adding that strength.”
The fear was that with all the world goalkeeper Keylor Navas in the net tekos, it would have taken something else to get to the scoreboard. Dest delivered exactly that, taking a pass from Younes Moussa near the corner of the penalty area, moving the ball to his weaker left foot and firing a missile into the top corner leaving Navas no chance. Even the fact that his shoelaces were untied could stop him.
“I think it was [Weston McKennie]”He ran to the back and the guy followed him, so there was room for me,” said Dest. He had to score. We were 1-0 down, so I felt like you know, we needed that point so I was just trying to show it and it was a great goal.”
A crucial point of the match came at the end of the first half when it was revealed that Navas had an adductor muscle injury and would have to be replaced by Lionel Moreira. Without a spell in the net, the game was there to take possession.
The US eventually took advantage in the 66th minute, as Dest turned to saver Weah, whose tight corner kicked off Moreira, hit the post and fell into the goal. This has changed.
However, it was a big moment for Weah, who found out just five minutes before the game was due to start after an injury to Paul Areola during the warm-up. Just before the target, he noticed that he was about to give up.
“I saw [Matthew] Hobi and Deandre [Yedlin] On the sidelines to get ready to go in, so the idea came to me that I was going out,” he said. But my goal was just to stay focused until then and that was just when the ball came out wide for Serge and I watched the run and hit him once and just happened to go in. It’s just the focus in those moments.”
It was a redemptive performance for the United States after last Sunday’s loss to Panama, but especially to the Dest. Much was expected of the defender, who is from Ajax and now of Barcelona origin, however he struggled riding a serpentine in the playoffs, and he struggled through the last window, especially when playing on the left side of the US defence. In this window, Dest managed to raise his profile, and in this match, he was the difference-maker that fans and teammates alike had come to expect.
It’s almost like the sky’s a border [Dest]. Berhalter said he could be as good as he wanted. “You saw today with his offensive game, it’s unreal. For Serge, it’s just about mentally, and he really pushes himself to be the best when he’s on the field.”
Dest admitted that the qualifiers at CONCACAF “opened our eyes” and a different world than what he used to do in Europe. He noted that the intensity is high and the opponents are working hard.
“It’s just physical,” he added.
But Dest and his co-workers learn they can play this card, too. And they needed to use their physical attributes – and brains as well – to get past tekos. One of the moments that crystallized the task facing the United States was when defender Miles Robinson gave the ball away in the second half, leading to the separation of Costa Rica captain Brian Ruiz. But Robinson ate yards in a predatory manner and eliminated the threat. Costa Rica did not have legs.
In the process, the US has also banished some ghosts. He was tekos Which sent the US team’s qualifying efforts during the 2018 tournament into a state of collapse with a 2-0 victory on the road. Four years later, this Costa Rica side is clearly a team in transition. But this enemy still needed to be defeated, and this time the United States protected its homeland.
The win allowed the United States to likely sit second in the octagonal standings, awaiting Mexico’s result against El Salvador. The six points in this window are slightly less than expected, given that a tie in Panama was possible. But the road will become more difficult. Looming was the home confrontation with arch-rivals Mexico, as well as the turn on the road against Jamaica, which looked refreshed after the 2-0 win over Honduras. The United States will need to play with more consistency.
But the youngsters have served the United States well so far, and at least for now, the playoffs campaign is back on track.