Oct. 14 (UPI) — Sergino Dest unleashed a left-footed rocket to equalize and the United States Men’s National Team rallied for a comeback win over Costa Rica in its latest bid to qualify for the 2022 World Cup soccer tournament.
The U.S. men got the go-ahead score off an own goal in the 66th minute of the 2-1 triumph Wednesday at Lower.com Field in Columbus, Ohio.
“We weren’t sharp enough in the beginning,” Dest told reporters. “We came into the game after a couple minutes and created more chances in their half.
“The mentality of this group is still right. We work together and we do it together. We won the game. That’s the most important thing.”
The Americans were unbeaten in their first four World Cup qualifiers. They dropped to second place in the standings with a loss to Panama on Sunday in Panama City.
Mexico leads the group, which will send its top three teams to the World Cup. The fourth-place team will compete in an intercontinental playoff for another spot in the tournament.
“We challenged our guys to respond after a poor performance in Panama,” U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter told reporters.
“This was another element we needed to respond to. … Credit to the guys for staying calm, hanging in there and playing our game.”
Costa Rica, ranked No. 44 in the world, drew first blood with a score less than a minute into Wednesday’s match. The U.S. men turned the ball over on the left flank, leading to a Mexico transition.
Costa Rica left back Ronald Matarrita received a pass and fired a cross from the left side. The ball fell in toward the far post, where Keysher Fuller connected on his first touch. The Costa Rica forward bounced the shot into the left side of the net past goalie Zack Steffen.
Costa Rica held onto the lead for more than half of the first half. Dest then equalized in the 25th minute.
U.S. right wing Yunus Musah sent a short pass into the box for Dest to start that exchange. The U.S. defender received the ball and faced up a Mexican defender.
Dest tapped the ball from his right to his left foot and ripped a shot toward the far post. The shot went between two defenders and found the upper-left portion of the net, beating Costa Rica goalie Keylor Navas.
Neither team scored for the rest of the first half. The Americans took their final advantage about 22 minutes into the second half.
U.S. forward Timothy Weah received a pass inside the Costa Rica box after a turnover to start that exchange. Weah used his first touch to rip a shot off the right post. The ball then ricocheted off Costa Rica goalie Leonel Moreira and went into the net.
The No. 13 Americans outshot Costa Rica 12-4 and controlled 64% of the possession in the match. Steffen totaled two saves.
“If we work as a team, we can beat every team,” Dest said. “Working together is the most important thing and I think we did that [Wednesday].”
The U.S. men face No. 9 Mexico in another World Cup qualifier at 9:10 p.m. EDT Nov. 12 at TQL Stadium in Cincinnati. Mexico beat El Salvador 2-0 on Wednesday in San Salvador, El Salvador, to stay in first place in the standings.
Mexico is 4-2-0, while the Americans are 3-2-1 in the final round of qualifications.