The U.S. men's national team wrapped up its annual winter training camp with a second straight friendly win over a Concacaf foe, with the Americans beating Costa Rica 2-0 at the San Jose Earthquakes' Avaya Stadium on Saturday.
The Americans enjoyed a 3-0 victory over an experimental Panama side last Sunday, with Djordje Mihailovic, Walker Zimmerman and Christian Ramirez scoring the goals. Saturday, it was Sebastian Lletget and Paul Arriola scoring in the 80th and 88th minutes, respectively, giving the USA the victory after a much-improved showing in the second half.
Berhalter made only two changes to his lineup from the one that took on Panama, with Michael Bradley and Jeremy Ebobisse making way for Wil Trapp and Arriola.
The U.S. came out on the front foot early and did well to apply immediate pressure after losing the ball, but Costa Rica prevented any looks on goal. Conversely, Costa Rica forced a half chance five minutes in, when Portland Timbers midfielder Marvin Loria took a speculative effort from long range that was blocked by captain Aaron Long and went out for a corner. Nothing came from the set piece, though, and the game remained scoreless in the opening minutes.
Guzman had a couple of cracks at striking for Costa Rica soon after, with the visitors winning a free kick some 25 yards out on a left-sided angle. Guzman's initial free kick went directly into the wall, but he was able to lash at the rebound, sending a screamer just over Zack Steffen's goal in the eighth minute.
Gyasi Zardes forced Esteban Alvarado into his first save in the 20th minute, taking a low rip from long range instead of playing it to his right, where Corey Baird had been completing an overlapping run into space.
The U.S. enjoyed another bright moment in the 27th minute, when Trapp forced a turnover in the Costa Rica half, and the hosts immediately sprung into action. A series of quick passes resulted in Zardes playing Cristian Roldan in down the right, where he won a corner, but the U.S. couldn't capitalize.
The U.S. came out of the halftime break with a purpose, with Zardes zipping down the left-hand side. He squared the ball for Baird, who attempted to fire through some traffic from 20 yards out, only to hook his chance wide of the post. Three minutes later, the U.S. forced more pressure, with Trapp playing the ball for a forward-running Nick Lima. The San Jose Earthquakes defender put his low chance on frame, but Alvarado made the simple save.
The best chance of the game came two minutes later from Roldan. Trapp started the sequence with a long diagonal to Arriola, who crossed into the center of the box. Zardes laid it off for Roldan with a back-heel that popped up, but the first-time effort from the Seattle Sounders star was hooked wayward, letting Costa Rica off.
The U.S. continued to knock and nearly broke through soon after. Lima took a low rip at goal, but it ricocheted off the far post and stayed out, denying the defender a goal at his home stadium in the 55th minute.
That same post saved Costa Rica 12 minutes later, when Roldan volleyed a dangerous chance that beat Alvarado but couldn't clear the woodwork.
The U.S. kept pushing and finally got the breakthrough it was seeking through Lletget. The Bay Area native, who suffered a long-term injury that cut his World Cup qualifying run short at Avaya Stadium, got onto the other end of Jonathan Lewis's cross to the far post. Lletget headed down to beat Alvarado from a tight angle and give the USA a 1-0 lead.
The U.S. put the win away late with Lletget playing the role of provider. It started with a long boot out of the back by Steffen, which was flicked on by substitute Christian Ramirez. Lletget played a well-weighted pass forward for Arriola, who delivered a chip over the onrushing Alvarado, completing the 2-0 victory.
Here were the lineups for both sides:
Here were the full rosters for both teams:
GOALKEEPERS: Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew)
DEFENDERS: Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact), Mark McKenzie (Philadelphia Union), Keegan Rosenberry (Colorado Rapids), Auston Trusty (Philadelphia Union), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC)
MIDFIELDERS: Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Corey Baird (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Russell Canouse (D.C. United), Marky Delgado (Toronto FC), Jonathan Lewis (New York City FC), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Djordje Mihailovic (Chicago Fire), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew)
FORWARDS: Jeremy Ebobisse (Portland Timbers), Christian Ramirez (LAFC), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)
GOALKEEPERS: Esteban Alvarado (Alajuelense), Kevin Chamorro (AD Carmelita), Marco Madrigal (San Carlos)
DEFENDERS: Keysher Fuller (Herediano), Yostin Salinas (Saprissa), Jaikel Medina (Saprissa), Pablo Arboine (Santos De Guapiles), Francisco Calvo (Minnesota United), Waylon Francis (Seattle Sounders), Joseph Mora (D.C. United)
MIDFIELDERS: Jose Miguel Cubero (Alajuelense), Allan Cruz (FC Cincinnati), Nestor Monge (CS Cartagines), David Guzman (Portland Timbers), Jose Alfaro (AD Carmelita), Barlon Sequeira (Alajuelense), Ronaldo Araya (CS Cartagines), Marvin Loria (Portland Timbers), Jimmy Marin (Herediano)
FORWARDS: Jose Guillermo Ortiz (Herediano), Jean Scott (Guadalupe FC), Yendrick Ruiz (Herediano), Jonathan McDonald (Alajuelense)
The U.S. returns to action in late March, when Berhalter will have the full player pool at his disposal for friendlies during the FIFA international window. The U.S. will take on Ecuador in Orlando on March 21 before heading to Houston to host Chile on March 26.