Sports

USMNT to host Costa Rica in June friendly

The U.S. men’s national team will face Costa Rica in a friendly in Sandy, Utah, on June 9 (stream live on ESPN2), the U.S. Soccer Federation announced Wednesday.

The friendly follows the final stages of the CONCACAF Nations League. In that competition, the U.S. faces Honduras in the semifinals in Denver on June 3 and will progress to the final three days later — against Costa Rica or Mexico — if it prevails. A defeat will see the USMNT play in the third-place match. The U.S. men are also playing Switzerland in a friendly on May 30 (stream live on ESPN). As such, manager Gregg Berhalter is expected to bring in many of his first-choice players.

The schedule is intended to simulate the rhythm of games that the team will experience in World Cup qualifying, which because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will include triple-fixture windows. Those matches, part of an eight-team final round, will begin in September.

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“Costa Rica is a competitive CONCACAF team and we are looking forward to this opportunity,” Berhalter said. “Combined with the ability to mimic the cadence of matches we will encounter in September and October, this is an important step in our preparation for the start of World Cup qualifying.”

The fixture with Costa Rica has been evenly matched throughout the years, with the U.S. holding a narrow 17-16-5 edge in the series. The two sides last met in 2020, with an Ulysses Llanez penalty giving the U.S. a 1-0 friendly win. The last competitive fixture involving the two teams came in 2017, when the Ticos defeated the U.S. 2-0 in a World Cup qualifier in Harrison, N.J.

The staging of the camp and the match fall under the USSF’s return to play protocols. Due to the effects of the ongoing pandemic, capacity for the match in Sandy is limited to 10,000 fans.

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