Close to reaching World Cup, US looks to avoid last-day flop | Sports

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — American football’s harrowing reminiscence of the loss in Trinidad 4 1/2 years in the past stays omnipresent, if now not uncooked.

Denied a berth within the 2018 World Cup via a 2-1 defeat to an already-eliminated opponent, U.S. avid gamers check out to not take into accounts the reality they are going to qualify for this 12 months’s event so long as they do not lose to Costa Rica via six targets or extra in Thursday evening’s qualifying finale.

“The guys have told us, that have been here and through this path before, that we thought we qualified last World Cup,” midfielder Tyler Adams said Wednesday. “The fans thought we did, as well. But we hadn’t when we realized our game was finished and we lost.”

Just four players remain from the American roster that left tears on the field on Couva: Christian Pulisic, DeAndre Yedlin, Kellyn Acosta and Paul Arriola.

“I know this and Christian, too, better than anyone: It’s not over until it’s over. We can’t be too complacent. We can’t be too relaxed. We’ve still got a job to do,” Yedlin said. “Obviously, we’re in a good situation and we know that. but I think going into the Trinidad game, we thought we were in a good situation, as well.”

Canada (28 points) has clinched one of the three automatic berths from North and Central America and the Caribbean, the U.S. (25) is second ahead of Mexico on goal difference and Costa Rica (22) is fourth. Because the Americans have a plus-13 goal difference and Costa Rica is at plus-three, the U.S. could be denied only by a defeat of at least six goals.

“The media has classified us as the golden generation and the generation that’s going to qualify for the next World Cup,” 22-year-old winger Tim Weah said. “We do carry a lot of that weight on our shoulders, and qualifying for the World Cup, it’s not only for us, it’s for the group before, it’s for the Clints (Dempsey), it’s for DeAndres, for Jozy (Altidore), all the guys that didn’t get to do it again.”

The last time the U.S. lost a competitive match by six goals was in 1957.

“We’re not taking anything for granted,” coach Gregg Berhalter said. “We’re coming right here to be competitive within the recreation and to win the football recreation. That’s our goal. We’re now not going to be wary. We’re now not going to sit down again. We’re now not going to play for a tie.”

The U.S. has 9 losses and one attract qualifiers at Costa Rica, and one victory, two defeats and 3 attracts in highway qualifiers on this cycle. Using some of the youngest rosters in global football, the Americans started final September with a 0-0 draw at El Salvador and a 1-1 draw at house towards Canada, then won power over the 5 qualifying home windows.

“It was really lack of experience,” Berhalter mentioned. “We got kicked in the teeth that first round, and that’s what it was. We were potentially overconfident, not understanding what qualifying was about, and we learned that lesson quickly.”

Pulisic has 5 of the Americans’ 21 targets, together with his first global hat trick in Sunday’s 5-1 house rout of Panama.

“Him growing up as sort of that golden child in the U.S. soccer generation, people put expectations on him. And to be quite frank with you, he’s dealt with them better than anybody would really deal with that,” Adams mentioned. “In every single situation, he’s expected to do things that people like (Lionel) Messi and (Cristiano) Ronaldo are supposed to do.”

Right again Reggie Cannon rejoined the group after getting better from COVID-19. Gio Reyna remains to be now not 90-minute in a position whilst he’s amongst 30 avid gamers and team of workers getting better from a abdomen trojan horse that began some of the team final week in Mexico. Berhalter additionally printed the hamstring damage that sidelined Reyna from September till February integrated nerve problems that had been solved.

If the U.S. qualifies, Berhalter has little time to organize for Friday’s draw, the place the Americans can be in pot two. The fit ends about 9 p.m. native time, and he and team of workers have plans to catch an 11:54 p.m. flight to New York and a connection to Doha, Qatar. Coaches and avid gamers typically check out to not suppose forward of a recreation however Berhalter used to be pressured to.

“I got over that weeks ago, because I know that’s a necessary evil of what we’re trying to accomplish,” Berhalter mentioned. “They want us there at the draw, so it’s going to be important that if we qualify, we’re there. So we have to make these arrangements.”

Twenty-seven of the 44 avid gamers on U.S. qualifying rosters are with the group. and Berhalter deliberate to touch the ones now not in Costa Rica to congratulate them.

Players ready to have fun at National Stadium, no less than in a single appreciate. They have a brand new JBL Boombox 2, a water-proof transportable Bluetooth speaker bought via group administrator Sam Zapatka. Weah is the DJ.

“Since I’ve been with the national team, we’ve had this tiny little Bose speaker, and every camp we talk about we need to get a new speaker, we need to get new speakers,” Yedlin said. “I don’t know why it took eight years or however long it took, but finally, we got a nice speaker that we can play, so we’re pretty excited about it.”

Notes: Costa Rica is assured no worse than a June playoff towards the Oceania champion, most likely New Zealand, and 9 Ticos raise yellow playing cards: Bryan Ruiz, Celso Borges, Joel Campbell, Francisco Calvo, Bryan Oviedo, Johan Venegas, Keysher Fuller, Jewison Bennette and Alonso Martínez. Coach Luis Fernando Suárez mentioned Sunday he would possibly not chance a few of them getting suspended for a playoff.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This subject matter might not be revealed, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed with out permission.

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