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Three key battles for USMNT vs. Costa Rica

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The U.S. Men’s National Team faces arguably its toughest opponent left in the Hex as Costa Rica makes its way north.

Friday’s match at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey sets up a rematch with revenge and booking a World Cup ticket on the mind for the U.S., and earning a triumphant sweep over the USMNT on the other side.

[ READ: USMNT vs. Costa Rica Preview ]

Following the Gold Cup, this is the first time Bruce Arena has had his full selection of players available, and even with a pair of injuries on the backline, the veteran coach has most of the USMNT’s top players available. At the same time, even with Joel Campbell missing from action, Costa Rica brings one of its strongest squads, setting up a great battle in the shadows of New York City.

Here’s a look at three key battles on the field to keep an eye on in tonight’s USMNT vs. Costa Rica match:


WATCH LIVE: USMNT aims for historic win at Costa Rica (Lineups, Stream)

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The United States has never won a World Cup qualifier in Costa Rica, and a victory Tuesday would be the ideal tonic for the distant and recent past.

That’s because the Yanks fell to Mexico on Friday in the first match of the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, and Honduras’ 3-1 win over Trinidad & Tobago earlier Tuesday leaves the USMNT as one of only two Hex teams without a win.

Kickoff between the Americans and Los Ticos is slated for just after 9 p.m. EDT.

[ WATCH LIVE: USMNT-Costa Rica (Spanish) ]

An injury to Tim Howard means Middlesbrough backstop Brad Guzan starts for Jurgen Klinsmann’s men. He’ll have to help the U.S. aim for its first draw at CRC since 1985, and told USSoccer.com he’s well prepared for the fight.

“We know it’s going to be hostile, we know it’s going to be a hard place to go to, but in saying that, we know the ability we have in our guys,” Guzan said. “I think we showed at times, especially in the game on Friday night that when we’re playing our best, we’re a good team. We’re going to need that for 90 minutes come Tuesday night.”


Costa Rica: Navas; Salvatierra, Waston, Acosta, Umana, Matarrita; Bolanos, Azofeifa, Borges, Ruiz, Venegas.

USMNT: Guzan; Chandler, Gonzalez, Brooks, Besler; Johnson, Bradley, Jones, Pulisic; Altidore, Wood.