The United States Men’s National Team notched a 2-0 win over Costa Rica at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, CA. Saturday’s friendly was the second under new coach Gregg Berhalter who has implemented a new approach with the senior squad.

Berhalter’s gamble of a heavy MLS-based squad paid off as the team earned two clean sheets in their two friendlies; the first with Panama (3-0) and the second with Costa Rica (2-0). While the Yanks looked more polished in their first match against the Panamanians, they were able to gel late against the Ticos and tally two late goals to seal the victory.

U.S. Men’s National Team striker Gyasi Zardes during a friendly against Costa Rica at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, CA (James Lyons/TPR)

In the 50′, the Americans had a good chance after a change up of play. Paul Arriola was tearing down the left wing at a good clip. He cut inside and sent a low cross to Gyasi Zardes who flicked the ball behind him to the center of the 18 cueing up Cristian Roldan who blasted it wide.

In the 53′, Nick Lima blasted a ball inside the 18 that swerved outward and hit the post. After a few ricochets, Costa Rica was able to clear the ball and avert the U.S. attack.

In the 67′, Roldan had another chance to hit paydirt with a long distance effort but it too clanged off the woodwork. It wasn’t until the 79′ that the Americans converted one of their chances. Jonathan Lewis sent in a long cross that found the head of Sebastian Lletget at the far post who headed in the first goal.

Dorde Mihailović, who plays his club soccer with the Chicago Fire, takes a corner kick in a friendly match with Costa Rica (James Lyons/TPR)

In the 88′, Lletget would assist the second goal after he flicked a perfect through ball to Paul Arriola who chipped the keeper.

To the hurrah of the fans and the Federation, the moving parts that created the chances were all MLS products. Jonathan Lewis (New York City FC), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), and Paul Arriola (D.C. United) are all starters on their respective MLS clubs and either scored, assisted, or were playmakers in today’s win.

Overall, there’s not much to complain about with two wins in two matches and two clean sheets. While the first half left nothing to be desired offensively, fans can be certain that when the matches in March (Ecuador, Chile) come knocking, the high-powered European stars like Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Tim Weah will be available.

Two wins, two clean sheets, and a good look for Major League Soccer.


-Jon J.

Photo: James Lyons

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