CARSON, Calif. (Feb. 1, 2020) – The U.S. Men’s National Team beat Concacaf rival Costa Rica 1-0 in a spirited match before 9,172 fans at Dignity Health Sports Park thanks to a second half PK conversion by Los Angeles native Ulysses Llanez.
USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter sent out the youngest ever starting XI for a January camp match; a lineup that included four players making their senior international debuts. Berhalter would hand three more players their debuts as substitutes in the second half as the USA used the match to get players experience playing together for the upcoming Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying tournament that begins in late March and for the culmination of Concacaf Nations League play in the summer and the start of World Cup qualifying in September.
The USA began the game as the more aggressive side and looked likely to score as it carved out a handful of near chances in the first 15 minutes – an Arriola opportunity in particular drew a fine save from Costa Rica goalkeeper Esteban Alvarado, who kept the Ticos within striking distance throughout the hard fought match with four saves.
In the 20th minute, Alvarado collided with Llanez as the two went for a long ball played into the Costa Rica box. Both players were able to continue after the hit, which seemed to jar the Ticos into the match with Giancarlo González crashing a headed shot off the cross bar only minutes later during a 24th minute tribute to recently passed Los Angeles Lakers basketball legend Kobe Bryant.
Bryant would feature again in the second half when Llanez celebrated scoring the game’s winning goal – a well-taken penalty kick conversion in the 50th minute – by pretending to shoot a jump shot as his teammates surrounded the native Angeleno.
The teams traded chances in an intensifying second half that saw the introduction of numerous subs by both sides in a match that will serve Berhalter’s men well as they soon begin their club campaigns and reconvene in short order when the U-23 Men’s National Team begins Olympic qualifying on March 20 and the senior MNT heads to Europe for a pair of friendlies against the Netherlands and Wales in late March.
Next on the Schedule: During the March FIFA window, the USMNT heads to the Netherlands to face the Dutch at Philips Stadion in Eindhoven on March 26 (3:30 p.m. ET; ESPN2, TUDN and UniMas). That match will be followed by a contest against Wales at Cardiff City Stadium on March 30 (2:30 p.m. ET; FS1, TUDN and UniMas).
Social:Twitter, Instagram (@USMNT) and Facebook.
Goal Scoring Rundown:USA – Ulysses Llanez (penalty kick), 50th minute: A U.S. attack put the ball at Paul Arriola’s feet in the right side of the box. He wisely held it up and played into space for the overlapping run of Reggie Cannon who was taken down by a trailing defender, earning the USA a penalty kick that Llanez calmly slotted into the bottom right corner as the goalkeeper jumped to the opposite side. USA 1, CRC 0 [WATCH] FINAL
Key Saves and Defensive Plays:
CRC – Esteban Alvarado, 14th minute: The USA worked the ball from inside out up the right side as Cannon picked out Ferreira on the wing. The FC Dallas Academy product found Arriola streaking into the box with a clever pass. Costa Rica goalkeeper Esteban Alvarado came out to challenge Arriola and got down quick enough to block the San Diego native’s shot.
CRC – Esteban Alvarado, 46th minute: With the last action of the half, Sebastian Lletget took a cushioned ball from Aaron Long and evaded multiple defenders to create space for a swerving shot that was destined for the right side netting until Alvarado was able to make a finger-tip save while at full stretch to deflect the ball around the post.
USA – Reggie Cannon, 56th minute: A Costa Rica corner from the right side was flicked on at the near post by Bernald Alfaro and put on goal at the left post by Marco Ureña. But Cannon was properly stationed on the back post to block the shot, giving U.S. ‘keeper Sean Johnson time to get across the face of goal and snag the loose ball.
CRC – Esteban Alvarado, 77th minute: A USA corner kick from Sebastian Lletget snuck through the box to Walker Zimmerman at the back post and the big center back put a low shot through traffic on goal that Alvarado was able to parry away with an alert kick save.
At 23 years, 216 days, the Starting XI’s average age was the youngest the USMNT has fielded for a January Camp match.
The Starting XI also averaged 10 caps, tying last year’s Feb. 2 friendly against Costa Rica for the least experienced lineup Gregg Berhalter has fielded.
Seven players made their debut for the USMNT: starters Brenden Aaronson, Jesús Ferreira, Ulysses Llanez and Sam Vines and substitutes Mark McKenzie, Brandon Servania and Chase Gasper.
The seven debuts ties for the second most in a USMNT match with last year’s January Camp friendly against Panama. The record for USMNT debuts in one match is eight, which was set on Sept. 3, 1992 vs. Canada.
Llanez is the 54th player to score in their USMNT debut. At 18 years, 305 days old, he is the third youngest player to score in their USMNT debut after Juan Agudelo (17 years, 359 days) and Josh Sargent (18 years, 102 days).
Six players are age-eligible for the 2020 Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship in March: Aaronson, Reggie Cannon, Jesús Ferreira, Llanez, Sam Vines and Jackson Yueill.
Aaron Long captained the USMNT for the third time. The team is 3-0-0 when Long wears the armband.
With the USMNT dressing 20 players, midfielder Bryang Kayo and goalkeeper Matt Turner were healthy scratches from today’s roster. Teams are allowed six substitutions.
The USMNT is 17-16-6 all-time against Costa Rica and 17-6-4 in home matches against Los Ticos.
The USMNT is 12-2-3 all-time at Dignity Health Sports Park.
Referee Oshane Nation has previously officiated one USMNT match, a 3-0 win against Bolivia on May 28, 2018 in Chester, Pa.
- U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report -
Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Costa Rica
Date: February 1, 2020
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Dignity Health Sports Park; Carson, Calif.
Kickoff: 12:55 p.m. PT
Weather: 81 degrees; Sunny
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 1 1
CRC 0 0 0
USA – Ulyses Llanez (penalty kick) 50th minute
USA:1-Sean Johnson (24-Bill Hamid, 76); 2-Reggie Cannon, 5-Walker Zimmerman, 3-Aaron Long (4-Mark McKenzie, 63) (capt.), 13-Sam Vines (21- Chase Gasper ,77); 8-Brenden Aaronson (16-Brandon Servania, 66), 6-Jackson Yueill, 17-Sebastian Lletget; 7-Paul Arriola, 10-Jesús Ferreira ( 9-Gyasi Zardes, 63), 19-Ulysses Llanez (11-Jonathan Lewis, 73)
Substitutes not used: 15-Justen Glad, 18-Chrisitian Cappis, 20-Julian Araujo
Head coach: Gregg Berhalter
CRC: 1-Esteban Alvarado, 4-Keysher Fuller, 6-Keyner Brown, 3-Giancarlo Gonzáles (capt.), 22-Ronald Matarrita (8-Joseph Mora, 63), 20-David Guzmán, 17-Yeltsin Tejeda (15 Bernald Alfaro, 70), 12-Ulises Segura (2-Luis Diaz,46), 11-Ariel Lassiter (10-Randall Leal, 46), 7-Johan Venegas (13-Christopher Núñez, (78), 21-Marcos Ureña (9-Manfred Ugalde, 78)
Substitutes not used: 18-Aaron Cruz, 23-Luis Alpízar, 5-Pablo Arboine, 14-Marvin Loría, 16-Jeikel Venegas, 19-Kevin Espinoza
Head coach: Rónald González
Stats Summary: USA / CRC
Shots: 17/ 14
Shots on Goal: 5/ 2
Saves: 2/ 4
Corner Kicks: 10 / 3
Fouls: 24/ 13
Offside: 2/ 0
USA – Ulyses Llanez (Caution) 69th minute
CRC – Ronald Matarrita (caution) 26thminute
Referee: Oshane NATION (JAM)
Assistant Referee 1: Nicolas ANDERSON (JAM)
Assistant Referee 2: Ojay DUHANEY (JAM)
4th Official: Tristley BASSUE (SKN)
ussoccer.com Man of the Match: Ulysses Llanez