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USA vs. Costa Rica, 2021 friendly: What to watch for

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We end the window with a match against another Concacaf foe.

United States v Mexico: Championship - CONCACAF Nations League Finals Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/ISI Photos/Getty Images

The United States Men’s National Team will take the field tomorrow for the first time as Concacaf Nations League champions. However, they will want to make sure they don’t bring a hangover onto the field as they finish out their international window with a friendly against Costa Rica. The USMNT have used this window to prepare for World Cup qualifying in the fall, and they will want to end the window with a win against a team they will certainly need to be ready for when the Octagon begins. Costa Rica has not won since a November 2019 victory at Curaçao during Concacaf Nations League group play, a winless streak that spans 10 games. The USMNT will look to keep the Ticos’ streak going tomorrow in Utah.

Latest Form

USA

W (3-2) - Mexico - Concacaf Nations League Final

W (1-0) - Honduras - Concacaf Nations League Semifinals

L (1-2) - Switzerland - Friendly

W (2-1) - Northern Ireland - Friendly

W (7-0) - Trinidad and Tobago - Friendly

Costa Rica

D (2-2) - Honduras - Concacaf Nations League 3rd Place*

D (0-0) - Mexico - Concacaf Nations League Semifinals*

L (0-1) - Mexico - Friendly

D (0-0) - Bosnia & Herzegovina - Friendly

L (1-2) - Basque Country - Exhibition

*Lost both matches 5-4 on penalties

What To Watch For

Rotations. With the Nations League finished, expect to see a lot of rotations with players who didn’t get to play during the tournament seeing the field. This is also a chance for head coach Gregg Berhalter to evaluate how he would make this rotations should this be a World Cup qualifier to keep guys fresh but also field a solid lineup.

Emphasis on defense. The defense hasn’t had terrific outings as a whole the past 3 matches, so against the Ticos, we should expect to see the team focus on getting a clean sheet and doing so aggressively.

Who will step up? Which of the bench guys will assert themselves into this match? Sure, we can expect to see a few of the big stars, but this will be a chance for those players not locked into the starting lineup to show that they can be dependable when their number is called.

Lineup Prediction

Given some of the heavy minutes our stars have produced, Gregg Berhalter will likely look to shake it up and give minutes to other guys on the roster. Accordingly, we may see a lineup that looks like this:

Predicted Lineup vs. Costa Rica

The hero of the Mexico match, Ethan Horvath, gets the start at goal. Mostly as a reward, but also due to the knee injury that was suffered by Zack Steffen that prompted Horvath’s entry into the Mexico match and his heroics. The back line will still feature John Brooks, but Matt Miazga gets the nod alongside him, with Antonee Robinson and Reggie Cannon getting the start at left and right back.

Tyler Adams gets the start at the 6, getting his chance to see how long he can go with his back, while Yunus Musah finally gets to appear in a match at midfield. Sebastian Lletget also gets the start at midfield to provide some work rate and allow Musah to be more creative on the attack.

Up front, Brenden Aaronson gets the start at left wing, with Tim Weah in the lineup at right wing. Daryl Dike, who was not on the Nations League roster but traveled with the team to Denver, gets the start at the 9. Expect Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Sergiño Dest to get some action as 2nd half subs.

Prediction

The USMNT will be motivated after their win in Nations League to finish out the window in strong fashion. It won’t be a pretty match, but they’ll do enough to secure a 2-0 victory over Costa Rica.