Following a shaky first half against a quick, physical Costa Rican team, the United States improved in the second period, found a pair of late goals and closed out Gregg Berhalter's first camp with a 2-0 victory over the Ticos at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California, on Saturday.
Although the Americans were not as dominant against Costa Rica as they were against Panama on Tuesday night, Berhalter's team stayed the course, stuck to its tactics and eventually earned a deserved victory. The hosts handled themselves well enough defensively to ensure they could continue creating chances on the attacking end of the field.
Whether it was the higher quality of opponent or the unshaken rust on players still working back to full sharpness, the U.S. did not play well in the first half. Neither of the advanced midfielders, Djordje Mihailovic nor Cristian Roldan, shined in the opening 45 minutes. It required the introduction of a pair of substitutes to push the Americans forward and help secure a win.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Two victories in two games is an excellent way for Berhalter to start his U.S. head-coaching tenure, regardless of how they came. His tactical approach wasn't as obviously successful in this match as it was against Panama, but the continued entrenchment of his ideas in a victory can be chalked up as a positive. Again, his substitutes made a significant difference, a credit to his plan.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating.)
GK Zack Steffen, 6 -- Not much to do on the day. Provided strong distribution from the back and stayed calm under high pressure from Costa Rica.
DF Nick Lima, 6 -- Helped the Americans take over the game in the second half. Hit the post with shot in the 54th minute. Less involved centrally than against Panama.
DF Walker Zimmerman, 6 -- Played simple defensively; was aggressive with his passing from the back. Failed to connect longer passes at a high rate. Had several important clearances.
DF Aaron Long, 5 -- Shaky with the ball. Stepped into midfield to both good and bad effect, putting pressure on Costa Rica with the Ticos in possession.
DF Daniel Lovitz, 4 -- Slow and indecisive in possession under pressure, with a pair of poor turnovers. Struggled to commit a necessary tactical foul after Costa Rica moved to counter.
MF Wil Trapp, 6 -- Drastically improved after halftime, particularly with distribution. Sprayed the ball into space to help set up chances for the U.S. Key in the buildup to the goal.
MF Djordje Mihailovic, 5 -- Improved in the second half after struggling in the first 45 to make space matter under the forward line. Played an excellent ball wasted in the end, provided decent set-piece service.
MF Cristian Roldan, 5 -- Quiet and uninvolved for most of the first half. Improved with the rest of team in the second half. Missed an excellent chance in the 51st minute and hit the post with a good shot 14 minutes later.
FW Paul Arriola, 7 -- A menace on the wing with stretches on both sides of the field. Consistently the most dangerous American until Sebastian Lletget's entry, rewarded with a goal in the 88th minute.
FW Corey Baird, 5 -- Relatively limited playing high up the field on the right side. Lacked the touch to turn a couple of good passes from teammates into chances.
FW Gyasi Zardes, 5 -- Showed plenty of industry and provided a decent holdup option through 78 minutes. Lacked the necessary technique to turn touches into danger. Good on the defensive side of the ball.
MF Sebastian Lletget, N/R -- Man of the match for the U.S., pressing space and providing creative play after coming on in the 63rd minute. Crashed the back post for the opening goal in the 80th minute; assisted on the second eight minutes later.
FW Jonathan Lewis, N/R -- Athleticism and crossing ability changed the attacking outlook. Hit the long cross to Lletget for the first goal.
FW Christian Ramirez, N/R -- A few missed passes, had a few good touches. Flicked the ball on for Lletget that resulted in Arriola's goal. A strong, 12-minute appearance.