SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — America males’s nationwide soccer crew has certified for the 2022 World Cup, securing its berth to the event in Qatar after lacking out on the 2018 version in Russia.
In what was largely a formality, the U.S. misplaced 2-0 to Costa Rica on Wednesday, however nonetheless managed to safe one among CONCACAF’s three automated berths, together with group winner Canada and rival Mexico.
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The U.S., which went into Wednesday’s recreation at Estadio Nacional needing solely to keep away from a lack of six objectives or extra to punch its ticket, completed the 14-game qualifying cycle with a file of seven wins, three losses and 4 attracts for 25 factors. That complete left the U.S. three factors behind Canada and Mexico, and stage with Costa Rica, with solely a aim differential of +11 guaranteeing the People completed forward of Wednesday’s hosts (+5).
Although the crew was inconsistent at instances throughout qualifying, it remained in a powerful place all through the cycle.
“It is wonderful what this group of fellows have been in a position to do over these final seven months,” head coach Gregg Berhalter stated after clinching the spot on Wednesday. “I’ve actually seen the crew develop and it is a nice accomplishment. We’re trying ahead to the World Cup.”
Berhalter was a part of the U.S. crew that reached the quarterfinals on the 2002 World Cup, the place it misplaced to Germany. He was additionally a part of its 2006 World Cup squad, however didn’t play any video games because it was knocked out within the group stage.
“I do not assume that has sunk in but,” he stated, when requested about main the crew to the World Cup as a coach. “Simply being at a World Cup as a participant is among the most particular issues you are able to do. Now to be doing it as a coach with this group of gamers is one thing particular.”
Berhalter used what amounted to a first-choice lineup, whereas Costa Rica performed a largely rotated crew as a result of having 9 gamers on yellow playing cards forward of a possible playoff, which can now happen in Qatar in opposition to Oceania winners New Zealand.
The supposed expertise discrepancy did not matter.
Regardless of the U.S. controlling play for many of the recreation, Juan Vargas (51st minute) and Anthony Contreras (59th) took their probabilities to place Costa Rica up 2-0 early within the second half. However needing 4 extra to clinch qualification and ship the U.S. to the intercontinental playoff proved to be too tough.
Though solely 4 gamers on the present roster had been with the crew when it missed the 2018 World Cup, the group has been saddled with correcting that failure. None extra so than Christian Pulisic, the star Chelsea ahead.
“I feel that Christian has at all times felt that accountability,” midfielder Tyler Adams stated on Tuesday.
“Rising up as form of that golden little one in [this] U.S. soccer technology, folks put expectations on him. To be fairly frank with you, he is handled them higher than anyone would actually cope with that. In each single state of affairs, he is anticipated to do issues that folks like [Lionel] Messi and [Cristiano] Ronaldo are presupposed to do.
“He is presupposed to deliver us to the World Cup.”
And whereas that stress appeared to get to Pulisic at instances throughout qualifying, his hat trick in opposition to Panama on Sunday got here in probably the most consequential recreation the U.S. had performed in years. Pulisic completed the cycle with a team-best 5 objectives. At 23 years previous, Pulisic’s 12 objectives over the previous two qualifying cycles rank fourth all time in U.S. historical past.
Qualification wasn’t the one aim the U.S. was chasing, right-back DeAndre Yedlin stated Tuesday.
“I feel at this level, I would not say it is the final word aim, I feel the final word aim is clearly to win a World Cup,” he stated. “However there’s steps you must take to get there and one of many big steps is to qualify for World Cup.”
The U.S. can be positioned into Pot 2 for the draw to resolve the eight four-team teams, which can be held Friday at midday ET in Doha, Qatar.
Solely three groups within the 32-side subject have but to be decided. In a pair of one-game playoffs in Qatar in June, Costa Rica will play New Zealand whereas Peru will play both Australia or the United Arab Emirates.
The ultimate spot will belong to the winner of Wales vs. Scotland/Ukraine. The Scotland-Ukraine playoff match initially scheduled for March 24 was postponed following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has not been rescheduled.