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 touch 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).