Why the USMNT cannot afford to drop points against Costa Rica as Concacaf World Cup qualifying heats up

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Through the first five games of Concacaf World Cup qualifying cycle, the United States men’s national team have just two wins. It’s the same number of wins picked up in the previous cycle as a whole when they shockingly failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.  And while the revamped format includes more teams (eight teams as opposed to six) and more games (14 now as opposed to 10 in the previous cycle), it means there are also more opportunities to slip up than ever before. 

Ahead of Wednesday’s crunch qualifier against Costa Rica in Columbus, Ohio, the team needs as big of a bounce back as we’ve seen in recent years after being exposed in a 1-0 loss against Panama. That was a match where the attack was anemic, failing to produce a single shot on goal, and the depth of the team was brought into question, as was the decision of manager Gregg Berhalter to use a starting XI largely composed of backups. 

“Offensively I don’t think there was enough movement off the ball [against Panama],” Berhalter told the media on Tuesday.  “Our expected goal value (0.22) was very low, which is an issue.

“Part of the idea was to get seven fresh players on the field and make Panama pay, and we didn’t do that.”

The U.S. had averaged an xG of 1.88 per game in their first four qualifiers. 

Up to this point, you can argue that this team has not quite lived up to lofty expectations brought on by having more talent than ever before. The injury bug has been persistent, but every team deals with them. It’s about how you react to them that separates the quality teams from the also rans. They aim for nine points each window, but obviously know that 6 or 7 will do the trick. They only got five the first window, and they need a win against Costa Rica to reach six this time around. Dropping points here could put them in serious trouble, especially when you look at what is ahead, knowing four teams are within…



Source : cbssports

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