Soccer: Costa Rica v USMNT Predictions, Preview & Picks

Bobby WoodThe United States need to bounce back from last week’s defeat by Mexico when they do battle with Costa Rica in soccer World Cup qualification this midweek (9pm ET Tuesday).

Jurgen Klinsmann’s side got off to a poor start as the fifth round of Concacaf’s qualifying process kicked off last week, with Mexico overcoming the United States by two goals to one at the Mapfre Stadium in Columbus on Friday night.

The vast majority of those supporting the hosts in that encounter were left frustrated by what was widely seen as a self-inflicted and avoidable loss at the hands of their neighbours to the south. Klinsmann took the extremely puzzling decision to line his team up in a 3-5-2 formation, a shape they have employed for a grand total of 45 minutes in the last five years. USMNT looked uncomfortable in their new setup and unsurprisingly took a while to get going. They did improve in the second half after a much-needed switch to 4-4-2. A great deal of the damage had already been done by that stage, if not in terms of the scoreline (Mexico led by a single goal at the break) then at least with regards the momentum and general pattern of play.

Costa Rica began the Hexagonal round of World Cup qualification in ideal fashion, securing a 2-0 triumph over Trinidad and Tobago to climb to the top of the six-team table after the opening round of fixtures. Oscar Ramirez’s charges started the match in the Port of Spain impressively, immediately pressing high and seeking to control the ball, but then seemed to back off and play somewhat conservatively for most of the first half. Things did improve after the break, though, with the visitors taking advantage of the fact that Trinidad and Tobago seemed content to sit back and concede possession throughout the 90 minutes. Second-half strikes from Christian Bolanos and Ronald Matarrita ultimately securing the three points and ensured the 2014 World Cup quarter-finalists got off to the best possible start.

Klinsmann will surely employ a 4-4-2 formation form the start for this away game on Tuesday, with the 3-5-2 experiment against the Mexicans having comprehensively failed. Gifted Borussia Dortmund teenager Christian Pulisic will start on the wing rather than in a No. 10 role, with Timothy Chandler and Matt Besler the men most likely to make way to facilitate the switch in system. Bobby Wood (pictured), who was the United States’ best performer at the Mapfre Stadium, will again be an important figure alongside Jozy Altidore at the top of the pitch.

Costa Rica lined up in a 5-4-1 on Friday, but injuries sustained by Francisco Calvo and captain Bryan Ruiz may necessitate a reshuffle. The absence of Calvo is a blow for Ramirez, who was already unable to call upon the services of fellow central defenders Oscar Duarte and Giancarlo Gonzalez, while Ruiz’s attacking quality will also be missed by Los Ticos. Joel Campbell began the clash with Trinidad and Tobago on the substitutes’ bench but the Arsenal man will probably be included in the starting XI in place of Marcos Urena this time around.

Turning to our preview’s betting predictions, the United States have never beaten Costa Rica away from home, and that run could continue this midweek. The hosts will be in confident mood after their triumph at the Hasely Crawford Stadium and will be backed by a raucous home crowd at the Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica in San Jose, which should be enough to get them over the line. Backing Costa Rica to come out on top on Tuesday therefore looks like the best betting picks’ selection, with Campbell a tempting option to find the back of the net anytime.

  • Bet on Costa Rica to beat the United States @ -110 on the moneyline with Bovada.