Costa Rica maintained its unbeaten record at home against the United States in World Cup qualifying with a 2-0 win at the Estadio Nacional in San Juan on Wednesday night.
Despite the result, the U.S. still finishes third in CONCACAF’s Octagonal qualifying table behind first-placed Canada and second-placed Mexico, thus securing an automatic spot in Qatar at year’s end. Costa Rica is in fourth, meaning it will play a one-off match against New Zealand in Qatar to determine which of those two teams make the finals.
Keylor Navas was called into action twice in the early going, palming away solid efforts from Antonee Robinson and Ricardo Pepi as the U.S. looked for a first World Cup qualification win at Costa Rica in the team’s history.
Despite having the better of possession and playing against a rotated Costa Rica side, Gregg Berhalter’s XI failed to find a way through the hosts’ defense as the first half ended scoreless.
Costa Rica took the lead early in the second half from a corner kick when Juan Vargas met Brandon Aguilera’s whipped in ball and powered a header past Zack Steffen to make it 1-0.
The hosts doubled their lead shortly after as Anthony Contreras swept home at the far post from a Jewison Bennette cross following a mad scramble in front of goal that saw Steffen pulled all the way out to the penalty spot.
The Americans steadied the ship and kept the deficit at two, ensuring a spot at the 2022 World Cup — the 11th appearance in team history — after missing out on the 2018 edition following a loss to Trinidad and Tobago on the final day of qualification in 2017.