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USA vs. Costa Rica, 2019 friendly: What to watch for

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The USMNT look to make it two in a row when they face the Ticos.

Panama v United States Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Tomorrow, the United States Men’s National Team will step out onto the field at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California for their second friendly of 2019. They face a Costa Rica team that will not have a lot of their normal starters, but it should be a good test for this team of MLS-based players. The USMNT are coming off a 3-0 victory over Panama, where they played pretty well and executed efficiently. They will hope to do the same tomorrow against the Ticos.

Recent Form

USA

W (3-0) - Panama - Friendly

L (0-1) - Italy - Friendly

L (0-3) - England - Friendly

D (1-1) - Peru - Friendly

L (2-4) - Colombia - Friendly

Costa Rica

W (3-2) - Peru - Friendly

W (3-2) - Chile - Friendly

L (1-3) - Colombia - Friendly

L (2-3) - Mexico - Friendly

L (0-3) - Japan - Friendly

What To Watch For

Can this team finish better in the final third? Against Panama, the USMNT was generating so many chances that ended with either bad touches or not great shots inside the box. What was a 3-0 victory could have been at least 6 or 7 if the team seized on its opportunities. They should strive to do much better against Costa Rica, who won’t give them as many chances to score. The ones they get, pounce on them.

Can the USMNT maintain possession? The Ticos are normally pretty sound in their ability to keep possession of the ball, and we all know that this is something the USMNT is constantly working on. They did extremely well with possession against Panama, and will need to do the same to generate the attack they found success with Sunday night.

Will the defense hold firm and pitch another shutout? With Gregg Berhalter’s formation and playing style, the onus is on the back line to do their jobs and clean up balls in the box. They were able to do that Sunday night, but can they continue to do so against Costa Rica? If they play smart, keep everything in front of them, and not make any drastic mistakes, they can keep the defending third, and the scoreboard, clean.

Lineup Prediction

Normally, with two friendlies in the span of a week, we see coaches switch up their lineups to make sure legs are kept fresh and everyone gets a look. However, Gregg Berhalter hinted in comments Tuesday that he make not make wholesale changes to his lineup. To that end, we shouldn’t expect a lot of new players to be worked into the mix against the Ticos.

USMNT vs. Costa Rica Lineup Prediction

In net, expect Berhalter to stick with Zack Steffen, while Sean Johnson will likely also get time (hopefully one full half instead of an awkward substitute in the middle of the second half). The back line will likely remain the same, with Daniel Lovitz and Nick Lima on the left and right and Aaron Long and Walker Zimmerman in the middle.

Playing the role of holding midfielder will once again be Michael Bradley. Haters, fall back...he had a good game against Panama, and Berhalter has made a point to comment each time on Bradley’s quality surpassing that of everyone else in camp. He will likely give him the start over Wil Trapp. Just ahead of him, we have our first change, with Russell Canouse getting the start over Cristian Roldan. He’s a player that many have been hoping to see on the field for the USMNT for quite a while, and he will be able to press forward and maintain possession while also dropping back to help Bradley and the defense. Djordje Mihailovic will get his second start after he got the opening goal against Panama.

Corey Baird will play the right wing and Jonathan Lewis, who played well in a substitute performance Sunday night, will patrol the left. Gyasi Zardes had a struggle of a game against Panama, but Berhalter believes in him and Zardes had a lot of great chances that he just missed. Expect Berhalter to give him another shot to be the man up front.

Match Prediction

The USMNT will come out and, once again, have a great night on the ball. They’ll work the wings, they’ll play technical soccer, and it’s going to frustrate the Ticos. The USMNT will get two goals in this one, and by the score of 2-0, Gregg Berhalter will make it 2 for 2 in the win column as head coach.