SAN JOSE, Costa Rica ( Associated Press) – Ricardo Pepi, Kellyn Acosta, Tim Weah and DeAndre Yedlin returned to the starting lineup when US coach Gregg Berhalter made four changes for Wednesday night’s last World Cup qualifier in Costa Rica.
With the USA in position to clinch a World Cup return as long as the Americans did not lose by six goals or more, Berhalter replaced Jesús Ferreira with Pepi and Luca de La Torre with Acosta.
Yedlin and Weah have returned from one-game suspensions due to yellow card accumulation. Yedlin took over at right back from Shaq Moore and Weah on right wing from Paul Arriola, who did not dress due to groin stiff groin.
Zack Steffen was in goal, Walker Zimmerman teamed up with Miles Robinson in central defense, and Antonee Robinson was left behind.
Tyler Adams was in the defensive midfield, with Yunus Musah and Acosta in the advanced midfield. Christian Pulisic, who scored his first international hat-trick in Sunday’s 5-1 win over Panama in Orlando, Florida, was on the left wing.
Pulisic, Yedlin and Acosta were the only remnants of the 2-1 defeat at Trinidad and Tobago on October 10, 2017 that ended the Americans’ series of seven consecutive World Cup matches.
The United States started the night in second place with 25 points, three behind Canada, and ahead of Mexico with goal difference. Costa Rica was fourth with 22.
The U.S. series averaged 24 years, 142 days, its only time with an average age above 24 in 14 qualifying matches. The American series reached an average low of 23 years, 302 days this cycle, below the previous point of 24 years, 66 days in qualifying for 1990 when the Americans earned their first World Cup trip since 1950.
Zimmerman was captain of the USA for the fifth time and paired with Miles Robinson for the sixth time in qualifying and seventh time overall.
Adams and Antonee Robinson were tied for most appearances in the qualifying cycle, each playing in their 13th game.
Costa Rica coach Luis Fernando Suárez has made seven changes since Sunday’s 2-1 win over El Salvador, with defenders Francisco Calvo and Keysher Fuller, midfielders Celso Borges, Bryan Oviedo and Alonso Martínez joining forward Joel Campbell to hold out. Those six carried yellow cards and with another yellow they would be suspended for a potential June play-off match against New Zealand.
Midfielder Jewison Bennette was the only starter to have a yellow card, and defender Bryan Oviedo and midfielder Bryan Ruiz were among those on the bench with yellow.
Midfielder Yeltsin Tejeda was also out of the team.
Keylor Navas was in goal; Carlos Martínez right back; Johan Venegas, Kendall Waston and Daniel Chacón in central defense; and Ian Lawrence left back.
Brandon Aguilera, Orlando Galo, Bennette and Carlos Mora were in midfield, and Anthony Contreras was leading the attack.
Only Navas, Waston, Vargas and Contreras also started Sunday.
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