U.S. men’s national team head coach Gregg Berhalter praised his side after beating Costa Rica 2-1 in Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier, adding that his side are 'growing as a team'.
The USMNT let their inexperience show in the beginning after Costa Rica scored a goal within the first minute of the game, but the American side quickly got back on track with help of FC Barcelona’s Sergino Dest and Lille forward Timothy Weah.
"For us to be navigating through this CONCACAF qualifying - which is a bear, a monster - with this group, and the amount of poise they showed on the field today, particularly going down a goal, and then the second half being up a goal and managing the game really well," said Berhalter after the match.
"I mean, Gianluca Busio comes on, and he looks like he's 30 years old. So I'm proud of the effort. The guys showed a lot of poise and they're growing. They're growing as a team.”
Weah echoed the coach’s thoughts, admitting the team didn’t crumble after the first goal, sticking to the game plan in order to maintain momentum.
"We weren't nervous at all," Weah said. "Obviously it was a bummer to take the goal pretty early in the game. But we knew what our game plan was, and it was to expose their backline and I feel like we did that. The outside backs played a huge role today. The wingers played great. Everyone played great so it was us coming together and just staying focused and adding that intensity."
This time Berhalter stuck with a lineup he knew worked, as opposed to the Panama match where he replaced seven starters to try something new.
"It's almost like the sky's the limit for Dest. He could be as good as he wants to be," said Berhalter. "You saw today with his attacking play, it's unreal. For Serge it's just hanging in there mentally, really pushing himself to be the best when he's on the field.”
The USMNT proved they should be considered serious Concacaf contenders, holding on to their second place spot with 11 points in six games and a record of 3-2-1. The match against Costa Rica was the last of the October qualifiers before returning to action against North American rivals, and table leaders, Mexico on November 12 in Cincinnati, Ohio.