SAN JOSE, Calif. (Feb. 2, 2019) — The U.S. Men’s National Team used late goals from Sebastian Lletget and Paul Arriola to earn a 2-0 win against Costa Rica before 13,656 fans at Avaya Stadium. With the victory, Gregg Berhalter becomes just the third MNT head coach to win the first two matches of his tenure.
Playing at Avaya Stadium for the first time since suffering a devastating Lisfranc injury during a World Cup Qualifier against Honduras on March 24, 2017, Lletget rose at the back post to head home a Jonathan Lewis cross in the 80th minute. He then provided an assist to ice the match, threading Arriola through on goal before the winger’s nifty chip closed the scoring in the 88th minute.
The goals came after a flurry of second half chances that saw Nick Lima and Cristian Roldan ring efforts off the left post in the 54th and 64th minutes, while captain Aaron Long nearly forced a Costa Rica own goal in the 58th.
Playing through sporadic rain showers, the U.S. fought to connect passes and ceded early possession to Costa Rica before settling in to create some nice moments going forward.
In the 15th minute, Zack Steffen collected a ball in the box and alertly played to his outlet, Christian Roldan on the right. The midfielder played forward for Djordje MIhailovic, who found Gyasi Zardes’ run to the left, but the striker’s return ball for Mihailovic was cut out well by Costa Rica defender Pablo Arboine
Mihailovic and Zardes combined again in the 20th minute when the Chicago Fire youngster received a bouncing pass from the left. Upended by Costa Rica midfielder David Guzmán, Mihailovic did enough to play it on to Zardes, who blasted a low effort that skipped on the wet grass, causing goalkeeper Esteban Alvarado to bobble the shot before collecting.
A simple throw-in saw Costa Rica get its best chance of the half in the 22nd minute. Allan Cruz received the ball from Keysher Fuller on the right, playing a quick combination to send him toward the end line. Fuller was met inside the six-yard-box by Daniel Lovitz, who came across to put the ball out for a corner kick.
The USA came out of the locker room reinvigorated and pushing the attack with Arriola specifically finding lots of room to operate down the left early on.
Two quality chances came just before the hour mark. Corey Baird’s cross from the right was nodded away, but the former University of California attacker collected the ball again and fed Lima in the box. Playing on familiar terrain, Lima took a nice tough before driving an effort that beat Alvarado only to clang off the left post in the 54th minute.
Four minutes later, Aaron Long flicked on Mihailovic’s corner from the left and saw the ball deflect off Arboine, only to have Guzmán clear it off the line in the 58th minute.
The same left post that denied Lima’s effort came through for Costa Rica again in the 64th minute. Following a cleared corner kick, Lovitz saw his cross back in from the left nodded to the top of the area by Guzmán. It fell perfectly for Roldan, who settled with his right before his left-footed volley careened off the woodwork.
Hunting for the go-ahead goal, Lletget came through in the 80th minute. Trapp switched fields for sub Jonathan Lewis, who drove to the end line and provided a picture perfect cross for Lletget to head home what would stand as the game-winner.
The San Francisco native wasn’t finished there, threading a pass for Arriola to chip over Alvarado to close the scoring at 2-0 in the 88th minute.
With the curtains drawn on the month-long January Camp, players will return to their club schedules before reconvening for matches against two South American opponents during the March FIFA Window. The MNT will face Ecuador on Thursday, March 21 at Orlando City Stadium in Orlando, Fla. (8 p.m. ET; ESPN2, UniMás, UDN), before taking on reigning Copa America champions Chile on Tuesday, March 26 at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas (8 p.m. ET; ESPN2, UniMás, UDN).
Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Sebastian Lletget (Jonathan Lewis), 80th minute: The dam finally broke for the USA, providing an emotional moment in the process. Trapp swung a ball to substitute Jonathan Lewis on the left, and he cut to the end line before crossing to the back post where Lletget nodded it home from close range. A native of San Francisco, Lletget’s second international goal came on the same field where he suffered a devasting Lisfranc injury in a 6-0 win against Honduras on March 24, 2017 – the game in which he scored his first international goal. USA 1, CRC 0 [WATCH]
USA – Paul Arriola (Sebastian Lletget), 88th minute: With Costa Rica pushing forward in attack, the USA iced the match. Christian Ramirez nodded a goal kick forward for Lletget, who threaded Arriola in on goal. Dangerous all afternoon, the speedy winger chipped his effort before being upended by Alvarado and watched as the ball floated over the goal line. USA 2, CRC 0 [WATCH] FINAL
Key Save and Defensive Plays:
CRC – Waylon Francis, 17th minute: Showing good endeavor on the left throughout the first half, Paul Arriola juked a defender to break free and cross to the back post for Baird only to have Waylon Francis come through to head it out for a corner kick in the 17th minute.
USA – Daniel Lovitz, 22nd minute: Off a throw in from Fuller, Allan Cruz played him towards the end line, opening up space before Lovitz was quick to put it out for a corner kick.
CRC –Waylon Francis, 26th minute: After Alvarado thwarted a quick attack, his outlet pass to midfield was won by Trapp. The veteran alertly played a first-time ball to Baird on the right, connecting with Zardes at the top of the area, before playing out wide to Roldan. The midfielder cut inside, but saw Francis come across to put it out for a corner kick.
CRC – Esteban Alvarado, 49th minute: Paul Arriola ran onto a ball in space on the left and cut back for Wil Trapp in the middle. Trapp saw the overlap from Nick Lima, who took a touch and hit a low drive that Alvarado did well to smother.
CRC – David Guzmán, 58th minute: Taking a corner kick from the left, Mihailovic picked out Aaron Long’s near-post run. The defender gently flicked a ball that deflected off Arboine and towards goal only to have Guzman, who was hugging the post, clear it off the line.
- Sebastian Lletget’s 80th minute winner was the second of his international career as well as second at Avaya Stadium. Lletget scored the opening goal in the USA’s 6-0 win against Honduras on March 24, 2017, before coming off due to injury.
- Arriola’s 88th minute strike was the third of his international career and first since a 4-0 World Cup Qualifying win against Trinidad & Tobago on Sept. 6, 2016.
- Making his second appearance, Jonathan Lewis recorded his second career assist on Lletget’s game winner.
- With the victory, Gregg Berhalter became just the third MNT head coach all-time to win his first two matches, following Robert Millar (1930) and Bob Bradley, who won the first three matches at the beginning of his tenure in 2007.
- The Starting XI had an average age of 24 years, 268 days and 9.7 caps.
- Gregg Berhalter made two changes to the Starting XI that faced Panama, with Wil Trapp and Paul Arriola replacing Michael Bradley and Jeremy Ebobisse, respectively.
- Nick Lima started on familiar terrain at Avaya Stadium. Before signing as a Homegrown player for the ‘Quakes, the Castro Valley, Calif. defender played collegiately at the University of California from 2013-16.
- A three-time NCAA College Cup champion at Stanford, winger Corey Baird started his second straight match not far from his old stomping grounds in Palo Alto.
- Defender Aaron Long captained the MNT for the second time.
- While the back line stayed the same for a second straight match, Long and Walker Zimmerman partnered in central defense for a third-consecutive time.
- With the MNT dressing 20 players, Russell Canouse, Mark McKenzie, and Keegan Rosenberry were healthy scratches from the lineup.
- The USA and Costa Rica are tied in the all-time series with a mark of 16-16-6.
- The match marked the third time the USA and Costa Rica have played on Feb. 2. During the 1990 meeting in Miami, three-time FIFA World Cup veteran and future National Soccer Hall of Fame member Eric Wynalda made his MNT debut in a 2-0 friendly defeat. Twelve years later the teams met in the 2002 Concacaf Gold Cup Final, with current MNT assistant coach Josh Wolff scoring the opening goal as the USA cruised to a 2-0 win and its second confederation championship at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
- The game also marked the second time the USA has faced one opponent three different times on the same date, having previously faced England on May 28 in 1959, 2005 and 2008.
- The MNT moves to 2-0-0 all-time at Avaya Stadium and 4-0-2 in San Jose, Calif.
- U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report -
Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Costa Rica
Date: February 2, 2019
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Avaya Stadium; San Jose, Calif.
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (12:30 p.m. local time)
Weather: 55 degrees; mostly cloudy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 2 2
CRC 0 0 0
USA – Sebastian Lletget (Jonathan Lewis) 80th minute
USA – Paul Arriola (Sebastian Lletget) 88
USA: 1-Zack Steffen; 2-Nick Lima, 25-Walker Zimmerman,3-Aaron Long (capt.), 5-Daniel Lovitz; 6-Wil Trapp; 10-Cristian Roldan, 8-Djordje Milhailovic (17-Sebastian Lletget, 63); 7-Corey Baird (18-Jonathan Lewis, 70), 9-Gyasi Zardes (21-Christian Ramirez, 78), 14-Paul Arriola
Substitutes not used: 12-Sean Johnson, 4-Michael Bradley, 11-Jeremy Ebobisse, 13-Reggie Cannon, 20-Marky Delgado, 23-Auston Trusty
Head Coach: Gregg Berhalter
CRC: 1-Esteban Alvarado; 12-Waylon Francis, 15-Francisco Calvo (capt.), 4-Keysher Fuller, 3-Pablo Arboine (14-José Miguel Cubero, 86); 13-Allan Cruz, 25-Marvin Loría (8-Joseph Mora, 77), 17-Ronaldo Araya (19-Jean Scott, 58), 20-David Guzmán (5-Néstor Monge, 81), 16-José Alfaro (21-Alberth Villalobos, 56); 11-José Guillermo Ortiz (9-Jonathan McDonald, 63)
Substitutes not used: 23-Marco Madrigal, 18-Kevin Chamorro, 2-Yostin Salinas, 6-Jaikel Medina, 7-Yendrick Ruiz, 22-Barlon Sequeira
Head coach: Gustavo Matosas
Stats Summary: USA / CRC
Shots: 12 / 6
Shots on Goal: 4 / 1
Saves: 1 / 2
Corner Kicks: 7 / 3
Fouls: 16 / 18
Offside: 3 / 0
CRC – Keysher Fuller (caution) 53rd minute
USA – Walker Zimmerman (caution) 72
Referee: Fernando Hernandez (MEX)
Assistant Referee 1: Andres Hernandez (MEX)
Assistant Referee 2: Mario Lopez (MEX)
4th Official: Luis Santander (MEX)
ussoccer.com Man of the Match: Sebastian Lletget