US men’s national team head coach Gregg Berhalter expressed disdain over the yellow card system put in place for the Concacaf World Cup qualifiers, labelling it a 'dumb rule'.
Any player that receives two yellow cards during the Octagonal round of World Cup qualifiers is automatically suspended from the following one match.
The USMNT suffered from this rule several times during the qualifying cycle, most recently during the March international window after Tim Weah and DeAndre Yedlin received their second yellow cards and were subsequently sidelined for the United States’ game vs. Panama.
“I think it's a dumb rule, honestly. We go 14 rounds, a guy gets a yellow card in the first round and the 14th round, he sits out of their biggest game, it doesn't make sense,” said Berhalter.
Costa Rica are currently dealing with a similar fate as nine players carry yellow cards, including key figures like Bryan Ruiz, Joel Campbell, Bryan Oviedo and Johan Venegas. If Costa Rica fail to beat the USMNT by more than six goals, they will secure the fourth place spot on the Concacaf table and be forced to face New Zealand or the Solomon Islands for one last shot at a World Cup ticket.
Reports suggest Costa Rica manager Luis Fernando Suárez will put out a weakened lineup in order to protect certain players from receiving a second yellow and face suspension for what could be their most important game.
“I feel bad for either us or Costa Rica that are going to have to deal with that. In terms of their lineup, we're projecting that they're going to play their best lineup, that they're going to go for it, but it may change. I'm not sure exactly what they're going do. We have all their players identified on their roster, we've scouted all their players, we’ve scouted potential changes, and we go from there,” added Berhalter.
The US just needs a victory or draw against Costa Rica to secure their place at the 2022 World Cup after bagging 25 points in 13 games prior.