World Cup Qualifying Preview and Prediction: USA vs Costa Rica

2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier (CONCACAF): USA vs Costa Rica

Red Bull Arena – Friday, September 1 – 18:55 ET (23:55 BST)

Match Odds: USA 7/10 – Draw 23/10 – Costa Rica 4/1

USA vs Costa Rica: Preview

The USA (2-2-2) host Costa Rica (3-1-2) in a crucial World Cup qualifier at Red Bull Arena on Friday night. The United States have not lost a game since Bruce Arena took over as head coach from Jurgen Klinsmann. But the USA’s last defeat did come in their 4-0 qualifying loss at Costa Rica last December.

That heavy defeat left the USA bottom of the Hexagonal after back-to-back defeats. Klinsmann’s time was up and Arena was brought back in. Things have improved dramatically since.

The USMNT now sit third in the Hex, three points behind Costa Rica with four games to go. If they can win here, they will move ahead of Los Ticos on goal difference.

Recent form suggests the USA should prove too strong. They are unbeaten in 14 under Arena and have won five-straight games. They beat Costa Rica 2-0 on their way to winning the 2017 Gold Cup Final against Jamaica last month and are on a roll.

Costa Rica haven’t played since that semifinal loss to the United States at last month’s Gold Cup. They started the Hex in blistering form, scoring six goals in two games without conceding. But they have since won just one of their four qualifiers.

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They still have a squad strong enough to win any game in qualifying, but they must get back to where they were at this stage last year. They went unbeaten from June to January last year, posting a 7-0-3 record in that run.

The USA haven’t lost a home World Cup qualifier to Costa Rica since 1985. They have won six of their last eight home games against Los Ticos since that loss 32 years ago.

USA vs Costa Rica: Team News

USA head coach Bruce Arena hasn’t included any surprise call-ups in his squad for the upcoming qualifiers. 18 of the 26 players play in MLS and are in optimum shape at this stage of the regular season. While stars from European clubs such as Christian Pulisic, Geoff Cameron and Fabian Johnson will all expect to start. Michael Bradley, Geoff Cameron, Matt Besler and Jozy Altidore will all pick up a suspension if they receive yellow cards on Friday night.

Costa Rica will have to cope without star winger Joel Campbell. He is recovering from knee surgery and is ruled out for some time. Los Ticos do still have top talent to call on though, with Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas the standout name in the roster. Seven MLS players are included in the Costa Rica squad, including Vancouver duo Kendall Waston and Cristian Bolanos as well as Portland’s David Guzman and NYCFC’s Rodney Wallace. San Jose Earthquakes’ Marcos Urena might start up front.

USA vs Costa Rica: Key Points

USA’s last five: W/W/W/W/W

Costa Rica’s last five: W/D/W/W/L

Key Stat: The USA are unbeaten in 14 games since Bruce Arena took over from Jurgen Klinsmann last December. They’ve gone 9-0-5 under Arena in 2017.

Key Player: Clint Dempsey – The USA veteran needs one more goal to become the USMNT’s all-time leading goalscorer. He is currently tied with Landon Donovan on 57 and will break the record if he finds the back of the net here. He has four in his last seven internationals and comes into Friday’s game in good form with the Sounders. He’s also the leading scorer in the Hex coming into Friday’s fixtures.

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USA vs Costa Rica: Prediction

USA 2-0 Costa Rica – The USA have won their last two home qualifiers without conceding a goal. That shouldn’t change on Friday as they arrive in high spirits with an experienced squad of stars. Costa Rica’s qualifying campaign is almost the complete opposite of the United States’. They started well but now look vulnerable and a resurgent USMNT should get the job done at Red Bull Arena on Friday.

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World Cup Qualifier Preview and Prediction: Guatemala vs USA

Competition: CONCACAF World Cup Qualifier – Guatemala vs. USA

Venue: Estadio Mateo Flores, Guatemala – Friday, March 25 – 22:00 ET (02:00 GMT)

Match Odds: Guatemala 17/2 – Draw 100/30 – USA 1/3

Match Preview

Guatemala host the USA in an important World Cup qualifier on Friday night in what will be the first of two games between the nations in five days.

Both sides have played two games so far in Group C of CONCACAF qualifying, with the USA topping the group ahead of Trinidad and Tobago on goal difference. Guatemala sit in third place, but know that picking up at least one good result against the USA over the next week will keep their hopes alive.

Guatemala have never qualified for a World Cup but did reach the Hexagonal stage of qualifying in 2006, where they finished fifth and narrowly missed out the intercontinental playoff spot.

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Los Chapines fell 2-1 to Trinidad before thrashing St Vincent and the Grenadines 4-0 in their first two Group C games. Back-to-back losses to the USA this week will all but end their hopes of qualifying, so Guatemala need to try and make home advantage count on Friday evening.

The US Men’s National Team are entering two important games as the double header against Guatemala will be Jurgen Klinsmann’s last chance to assess his squad ahead of this summer’s Copa America Centenario.

The German head coach has said the USA “badly want to get the job done before the Copa America if possible” and he is targeting six points from the two games against Los Chapines this week.

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An opening 6-1 win over St Vincent and the Grenadines was followed by a 0-0 draw in Trinidad. The USA have only won two of their last eight games away from home and a win on Friday would be a real boost.

Klinsmann has called up an experienced squad for these games. He will expect his side to record two victories as all attentions will turn to this summer’s Copa America as soon as this home-and-home series with Guatemala is over.

These nations have met at this stage of CONCACAF qualifying in each of the past five World Cup cycles. The USA have posted a 7-0-5 record in those qualifiers but have only won one of the five games in Guatemala (W1 D4).

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Team News

Jurgen Klinsmann has called up 26 players for the upcoming home-and-home series with Guatemala over the next five days, with 13 MLS stars in the latest squad. There are eight players looking to appear in their first World Cup qualifying matches, while 15 members of the squad travelled to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup. Bobby Wood will be one to watch as the Union Berlin forward will hope to continue to shine if given the chance to in attack.

Guatemala have called up 24 players for the two qualifying games against USA, with six attackers named to the roster. MLS fans will be familiar with Colorado Rapids midfielder Marco Pappa as well as Carlos Ruiz, who played for five MLS clubs between 2002 and 2013. Moises Hernandez (FC Dallas) and Rodrigo Saravia (Columbus Crew) have also made the squad and will hope to impress.

Key Points

Guatemala’s last five: D/L/W/W/W

USA’s last five: L/W/D/W/W

Key Stat: The USA are unbeaten in 21 consecutive matches against Guatemala – their longest current unbeaten run against any other international side.

Key Player: Marco Pappa – Americans will be familiar with Guatemala’s Marco Pappa. The midfielder in currently in his seventh MLS season after joining the Colorado Rapids this offseason. He is nearing full fitness now and will need to be at his best to break down the USMNT defence and give Guatemala a chance of winning this game.

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Score Prediction

Guatemala 1-1 USA – Clashes between these two in Guatemala have proven to be low-scoring affairs in recent history and a close-fought battle is expected here. The USA are favourites and have a much stronger squad. But Guatemala will be tough to break down and could pick up another home draw in what is an important qualifier for both nations.

World Cup Qualifier Preview and Prediction: Trinidad & Tobago vs USA

Competition: CONCACAF World Cup Qualifier – Trinidad and Tobago vs. USA

Venue: Hasely Crawford Stadium – Tuesday, November 17 – 18:30 ET (23:30 GMT) 

Match Odds: Trinidad 5/2 – Draw 11/5 – USA 19/20

Match Preview

Trinidad & Tobago host the USA in a key World Cup Qualifying clash in Group C on Tuesday night, with both sides looking to build on perfect starts to the campaign.

Trinidad managed to record a solid 2-1 victory over Guatemala on Friday night and know that a home win against the US here will put them in a great position early in the qualifying process.

The US Men’s National Team travel to the Caribbean in good shape as they survived a very early scare against St Vincent and The Grenadines to come back and win 6-1 on Friday evening.

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That result was always expected, though, and the first real test lies in store here. Klinsmann knows his players must perform to their best if they’re to beat this Trinidad side, especially after what has been a solid few months for The Soca Warriors.

Trinidad beat Mexico to top spot in Group A of the Gold Cup in the summer before losing on penalties to Panama in the quarter-finals and have not lost a game in 90 minutes in any of their last eight.

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USA on the other hand have only won two of their last seven and need to start putting a string of victories together now to rebuild confidence in the camp.

This will be the first meeting between the two side since a World Cup qualifying clash in 2009. USA won that game 1-0 at Hasely Crawford Stadium and will expect a similar result this time around too.

Team News

Trinidad & Tobago head coach Stephen Hart is unlikely to make too many changes, if any, to the side that won in Guatemala on Friday. MLS fans will be familiar with some of the names in the Trinidad side as Joevin Jones, Daneil Cyrus (both Chicago Fire) are set to start, while Kevan George (Columbus Crew) and Cordell Cato (San Jose Earthquakes) will likely appear from the bench. Cardiff City striker Kenwyne Jones will spearhead the attack.

Jurgen Klinsmann has already revealed that Tim Howard, who is now fully focused after an international sabbatical, will start in goal for just the second time since the 2014 World Cup. There are unlikely to be too many changes as Klinsmann will want to start finding a consistent lineup but Fabian Johnson might be pushed back to his usual left-back berth, allowing Darlington Nagbe to start on the left side of midfield.

Key Points

Trinidad & Tobago’s last five: D/D/W/D/W

USA’s last five: W/L/L/L/W

Key Stat: USA have won 11 of the last 13 meetings with Trinidad (D1 L1) over the past 21 years and historically tend to dominate Tuesday’s opponents.

Key Player: Jozy Altidore – The powerful Toronto forward scored twice and picked up an assist in Friday’s 6-1 win over St Vincent and he will want to push on with further goal contributions here.

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Score Prediction

Trinidad & Tobago 1-2 USA – Expect this to be a close battle between two of CONCACAF’s better sides. The USA know this will be a stern test but they should have enough to seal a narrow victory and take control of Group C.

World Cup Qualifier Preview and Prediction: USA vs St Vincent & The Grenadines

Competition: CONCACAF World Cup Qualifier – USA vs. St Vincent & The Grenadines

Venue:Busch Stadium, St Louis – Friday, November 13 – 18:30 ET (23:30 GMT)

Match Odds: USA 1/250 – Draw 14/1 – St Vincent 33/1

Match Preview

The US Men’s National Team get their 2018 World Cup Qualifying campaign underway on Friday night with a home clash against one of CONCACAF’s smallest nations in St Vincent & The Grenadines at Busch Stadium in St Louis.

The two nations have never met before but the USA are overwhelming favourites to seal a comfortable victory against the nation with a population of just over 100,000 people.

Jurgen Klinsmann will be looking forward to starting the USMNT’s World Cup qualifying campaign after a poor summer that saw the team underperform in the Gold Cup before losing the CONCACAF Confederations Cup playoff to Mexico in October.

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The USA have now only won one of their last six games, suffering five defeats in that time, and know they need to pick back up again.

The visit of St Vincent will be an intriguing one as so little is know about them. They beat Aruba 3-2 on aggregate in the playoff game to get to this stage of qualifying but are not expected to trouble the USMNT on Friday.

Klinsmann has labelled St Vincent as “tricky opponents” because he is so unfamiliar with how they play and who their main talents are.

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One man to watch is Oalex Anderson, who scored in their first-leg playoff win over Aruba in September. He plies his trade with USL team Seattle Sounders 2 and has scored nine goals since making his international debut just over a year ago.

But USA supporters will be mainly focusing on how the two newest members of Klinsmann’s team fare. MLS duo Darlington Nagbe and Matt Miazga are both attending their first USMNT camp and will hope to impress in a squad filled with young talent as Klinsmann looks to the future.

Key Points

USA’s last five: D/W/L/L/L

St Vincent & The Grenadines last five: D/D/W/L/W

Key Stat: USA have not lost a World Cup qualifying match on home soil since a 3-2 defeat to Honduras in 2001.

Key Player: Darlington Nagbe – The Portland Timbers playmaker will be desperate to impress head coach Jurgen Klinsmann on his USMNT debut. He’s unlikely to play 90 minutes but will look to make the difference nonetheless.

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Score Prediction

USA 3-0 St Vincent & The Grenadines – This should be a routine victory for the USA as they look to start their World Cup qualifying campaign in the right way. It was a turbulent summer for Klinsmann and his team. Although a comfortable win against one of CONCACAF’s smallest sides won’t answer many questions, it will give the home fans want they want to see.

International Preview and Prediction: USA vs Costa Rica

Competition: International Friendly – USA vs. Costa Rica

Venue: Red Bull Arena – Tuesday, October 13 – 23:30 BST (18:30 ET)

Match Odds: USA 4/5 – Draw 9/4 – Costa Rica 11/4 

Match Preview

Jurgen Klinsmann’s USMNT will want to quickly forget the heartbreaking loss on Saturday with a win when they host Costa Rica on Tuesday night in an international friendly.

The USMNT lost out on the chance of playing at the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia with the loss to Mexico on Saturday as they went down 3-2 in extra time.

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That loss followed the the disappointing Gold Cup run on home soil in the summer in what will go down as a year to forget for the US national team. And they will not be too confident of turning things around instantly here, after only winning twice in their last eight against Costa Rica.

For those that remember, England were knocked out of the World Cup in 2014 at the expense of Costa Rica so the nation possesses a great team. However, they have also endured a difficult 2015.

Costa Rican have won just once this year, coming in a 1-0 win over Uruguay in September but they will see Tuesday’s game as a good chance to seal another victory over the USMNT.

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Key Points

USA’s last five: L/D/W/L/L

Costa Rica’s last five: D/L/L/W/L

Key Stat: The USA have never beaten Costa Rica in an international friendly (P3 – D1 – L2)

Key Player: Joel Campbell – Everyone that saw Costa Rica at the World Cup should know how much of a talent Campbell is and it still baffles many as to how Arsene Wenger leaves him on the bench all the time at Arsenal.

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Score Prediction

USA 2-1 Costa Rica – Hopefully this meeting will be more than just another game as both sides have a point to prove as CONCACAF rivals. Both have proved themselves as solid sides over the past few years and this will be a good test for both. This should be an advert for how good football has become in North and Central America and an entertaining affair is expected.

PHOTOS: Exclusive images from Vancouver and Seattle’s CONCACAF Champions League clash

Just days after the Vancouver Whitecaps piled more misery on the Seattle Sounders with that 3-0 MLS win at CenturyLink Field, the two sides met again in their first CONCACAF Champions League game of the year at BC Place.

The game between the Cascadia rivals ended 1-1 on Wednesday night in what will be seen as a better result for the Sounders than the Whitecaps, especially when you consider Sigi Schmid’s team’s recent form.

Going on the road at earning a point in the Champions League is never a bad result and the Sounders will now hope to kick on in league play when they take to the field against LA Galaxy at StubHub Center on Sunday.

A Lamar Neagle goal tied the game in Vancouver after defender Tim Parker scored with a backheel flick just after 61 minutes as both sides fielded several reserve players.

The two teams will next meet in the Champions League on September 23 at CenturyLink Field in what will be the Sounders’ final group stage game.

Check out the photos below taken by our North American photographer, Denise McCooey:

Seattle Sounders vs Vancouver Whitecaps CONCACAF Champions League Seattle Sounders vs Vancouver Whitecaps CONCACAF Champions League Seattle Sounders vs Vancouver Whitecaps CONCACAF Champions League Seattle Sounders vs Vancouver Whitecaps CONCACAF Champions League Seattle Sounders vs Vancouver Whitecaps CONCACAF Champions League Seattle Sounders vs Vancouver Whitecaps CONCACAF Champions League Seattle Sounders vs Vancouver Whitecaps CONCACAF Champions League Seattle Sounders vs Vancouver Whitecaps CONCACAF Champions League Seattle Sounders vs Vancouver Whitecaps CONCACAF Champions League Seattle Sounders vs Vancouver Whitecaps CONCACAF Champions League Seattle Sounders vs Vancouver Whitecaps CONCACAF Champions League Lamar Neagle

REVEALED: The highest MLS salaries eclipse those seen in Liga MX

Major League Soccer and Mexico’s Liga MX will long be battling for the tag of the best domestic league in the CONCACAF and if player salaries are anything to go by, MLS is winning the battle.

Liga MX has long been considered the superior league, in terms of player quality and business, as well as the fact that the league has seemed to attract the ‘big’ names ahead of MLS in recent years.

But that is changing and changing fast. MLS is growing at an unprecedented level and the 2015 season will be the league’s biggest and best ever as 20 teams will take part for the first time ever and international stars such as Kaka, David Villa and Sebastian Giovinco will grace the league with their quality.

If player salaries are anything to go by, the MLS is now the superior domestic league in the CONCACAF as a list of the top ten highest paid players in Liga MX has been released by Forbes Mexico:

 Player  Club  Annual Base Salary
 Roque Santa Cruz  Cruz Azul  2.6 million USD
 Oribe Peralta  Club America  2.5 million USD
 Darwin Quintero  Club America 1.8 million USD
 Ronaldinho  Queretaro  1.8 million USD
 Angel Reyna  Chivas  1.7 million USD
 Jesus Corona Cruz Azul 1.5million USD
 Marco Fabian  Chivas  1.5 million USD
 Paulo da Silva  Toluca  1.2 million USD
 Dorlan Pabon  Monterrey  1.2 million USD
Mauro Boselli Leon  1.1 million USD

Roque Santa Cruz is the highest paid player in Liga MX, earning 2.6 million dollars annually but that is just a fraction of what Major League Soccer’s highest paid player Sebastian Giovinco is set to earn in 2015 following his move from Juventus this winter.

Giovinco is expected to earn around $7 million in his debut campaign in MLS while fellow newcomer Kaka is set to earn $6.6 million as a base salary.

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Below is a list of MLS players anticipated salaries for 2015. Most are according to the MLS Players’ Union while the salary of Steven Gerrard is based on reported figures. Frank Lampard’s projected salary with New York City FC has not been revealed, though he would likely make the top ten in earnings this year.

It is clear to see that the best players in MLS are earning significantly more than those in Liga MX as a base salary:

 Player  Club  Annual Base Salary
Sebastian Giovinco Toronto FC  7.0 million USD
 Kaka  Orlando City SC  6.6 million USD
 David Villa New York City FC 6.0 million USD
 Michael Bradley Toronto FC  6.0 million USD
 Jozy Altidore Toronto FC  6.0 million USD
Clint Dempsey Seattle Sounders 4.9 million USD
Robbie Keane LA Galaxy  4.5 million USD
Steven Gerrard LA Galaxy 4.0 million USD
Jermaine Jones New England Revolution  3.0 million USD
Obafemi Martins Seattle Sounders  1.6 million USD

It says a lot that the ninth-highest paid player in MLS, Jermaine Jones would be the highest paid player in Liga MX with his base salary of around $3 million per year.

The Designated Player rule in the United States means a small fraction of players can earn the huge wages seen above, but Liga MX players still earn better salaries on average league-wide.

A report last November revealed players in Mexico would earn an average of $410,139 per season compared to $209,906 per year in MLS on average.

On the field, an MLS side has yet to win the CONCACAF Champions League since the tournament’s inception in 2009.

A Liga MX club has won each year since then, with Monterrey the most successful team with three Champions League titles in six years.

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Real Salt Lake came closest when they reached the final in 2011 but ultimately lost to Monterrey on that occasion.

Things could now be swinging in the favour of MLS though as the rapidly growing league continues to rise on and off the field.

Which league would you class as the best – MLS or Liga MX?