USA to Defeat Costa Rica in World Cup Qualifiers


COLUMBUS, Ohio — A spectator at a men’s soccer game in the United States can have a reasonably fun time just watching Sergiño Dest as he gets into the business of playing right back.

The simple actions that 20-year-old Dest takes on a soccer field—running around, trapping a ball, playing at his feet, guiding him to his teammates—oak style. It has a bottomless tool kit. He controls the ball like a puppeteer – and sometimes has crazy ideas about what to do with it.

For all his talent, the question about Dest raised by coaches for both the national team and his club, Barcelona, ​​has been whether he can combine all these gifts and tools and express them as consistently effective performances, if he can avoid mental delays. and if he could change games on his own, he would have kept his concentration on the field.

For an immensely fun night, Dest did just that, scoring a brilliant match-tying goal, coolly creating a winner, and the crowd overall, a 2-1 comeback for the United States against Costa Rica in a World Cup qualifier. pleased to help him lead to his victory. Wednesday night in Columbus, Ohio.

After being removed from the game in the second half, Dest made one last captivating gesture: Leaving the field from the far side, he spent time wandering around the field of play, waving his arms to get the crowd to their feet as the game continued behind him. . When he reached the sideline by the benches, he gave high five to all the fans he could find and a few security guards with a big smile on his face.

Fans pampered him with enthusiastic cheers along the way.

The welcoming atmosphere and an exhausted crowd of 20,165 seemed to enliven the entire United States team that wanted to return. soulless 1-0 loss Sunday in Panama.

The team has come to see Columbus as a sort of unofficial national home because of the reliable large and supportive crowds it tends to attract, and because it’s a pattern of positive results: Of the previous 10 World Cup qualifiers, Columbus had won seven since 2000, as the USA entered Wednesday. .

Fans—voiced in the stadium by a comfortable seating arrangement and partial roof—still a theatrical, slow-built “USA!” they were working with. The cheer timed each match for the opening whistle as Costa Rica took a stunning lead.

Flying towards the USA goal in the first minute, Costa Rican defender Keysher Fuller jumped into the air and made a cross with his right foot. Although the contact was not clean, the ball bounced off the grass chaotically through a small crowd and entered the net past US goalkeeper Zack Steffen, who was frozen in the line due to the creeping threat from Costa Rica forward Jonathan Moya. box. Steffen immediately rushed to the sideline and claimed Moya was offside, but Dest, who apparently pushed the finish line away from the game, kept the Costa Rican attackers on the field.

At the 25th minute, Dest would save himself magnificently. He dribbled the ball from the right flank menacingly into the penalty area, patted the ball with his right foot, then quickly cut to his left and sent a shot to the upper left corner of the goal with his weak foot. The flight of the ball into the net triggered a loud bang from the home crowd and rushed Dest to the sideline, where he was mobbed by his teammates and coaches.

As much as the goal itself, US coach Gregg Berhalter could have been pleased with this move, a 13-pass sweeping move involving nine American players starting in midfield and returning to Steffen at goal. ended on the left side of the field and on the right. The USA had spent 428 minutes goalless at halftime before Dest’s shot went in.

A few days ago, Berhalter had joked to reporters that they might be fed up with his use of the word “verticality,” which refers to the notion of direct approach tactics, which he has repeatedly voiced at a series of news conferences.

Think how often gamers hear this. The US has seemed languid on the offensive at times over the past two months, but the concept resonated Wednesday night. Dest’s goal highlighted one of the Americans’ best offensive plays in recent times, demonstrating all the offensive principles Berhalter had preached for weeks publicly and behind closed doors: persistent and purposeful movement without the ball, quick changes, general pushing towards and behind the opponent’s backline. a sense of urgency.

The lead goal came in the 66th minute. A misplay by a Costa Rican defender wobbled the ball towards Dest’s feet, scooped up the ball, looked around, and threw it in front of Timothy Weah, who flipped a perfectly weighted pass toward goal.

The game was then managed by Costa Rican goalkeeper Leonel Moreira with an own goal, but Weah celebrated it like an own goal and a fan in the corner rushed to hug his pocket.

Dest joined him there, rubbing his head with fans, enjoying a performance where he used all his captivating skills in a devastating way.

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