Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up
NBCSports Header Logo

Three things we learned from USMNT - Costa Rica

After pulling out a dramatic win over Mexico in the Nations League, Joe Prince-Wright, Andy Edwards and Nick Mendola wonder whether it's a sign of growth for the USMNT -- or whether there were causes for concern.

The United States men’s national team completed a trio of takedowns of big CONCACAF foes as Brenden Aaronson, Tyler Adams, and Daryl Dike raised their hands in a 4-0 win over Costa Rica on Wednesday in Utah.

[ MORE: USMNT player ratings ]

Dike was a part of Aaronson’s opening goal and then got a goal from a Mark McKenzie feed to make it 2-0 at the break. Reggie Cannon and Giovanni Reyna completed the score line with second-half goals, Reyna’s coming off the bench, but eyes will be on Jordan Siebatcheu after a scary-looking late injury.

[ MORE: Pulisic talks USMNT-Mexico rivalry ]

The Yanks have now beaten Honduras 1-0 in the CONCACAF Nations League semifinal, Mexico 3-2 after extra time of the final, and Los Ticos 4-0 in a friendly.

With plenty of respect for Canada, Panama, and Jamaica, that’s a bingo.

Three things we learned from USMNT - Costa Rica

1. Attacking spot competition is at an all-time high: There’s no question that Christian Pulisic is the man when it comes to United States men’s national team attackers but let’s be serious -- There is serious competition for the other places in Gregg Berhalter’s system, especially the ones with creative freedom. Timothy Weah was a sparkplug off the bench versus Mexico and was pretty darn good on Wednesday, as was Giovanni Reyna (18 years old. Yes, still) in his cameo role. Then there was Brenden Aaronson, who barely put a foot wrong and when he did it was because he felt comfortable to try a swinging back heel bid to make it 2-0. He has a Pulisic-like elusiveness that is almost impossible to teach at its best level. How long before he goes from Salzburg to Leipzig? And forget center forwards... there’s a lot to discuss there in its own section.

2. Dike presents one of several unique CF options for Berhalter: Daryl Dike’s four-wheel drive power is a lot for defenses. Does Dike have a lot to learn given his tender age? Yes. Does he need to move abroad to further test his potential? Probably. Is he already a physical force with good knowledge of the 18-yard-box and predatory instincts to inform his movement? We’re nodding... hard. And with Josh Sargent’s relentless and dogged pressure but good passing and Jordan Siebatcheu’s space somewhere between those two -- There are others, too, with Matthew Hoppe among them -- Berhalter isn’t just a man with options at center forward, he’s a man whose ultimate selection will make CONCACAF foes plan for several different attacks... (and don’t be surprised when we see some false 9 to boot). That said, Siebatcheu’s late injury is a scary one, as the Young Boys forward spent time holding his knee cap.

3. This was a World Cup qualifier sans all of the intensity: Yes, the intensity is a huge component. But as goods as Costa Rica has been in recent years and even recently, remember that the U.S. wants to comfortably win its home WCQs. In this way, with Costa Rica coming off the same rest, a lot of this felt familiar even with so many new pieces.

Man of the Match: Brenden Aaronson

USMNT - Costa Rica recap

Three of U.S. Soccer’s breakthrough names delivered to put the Yanks up 1-0 over Costa Rica early Wednesday in Utah.

Antonee Robinson spun a delightful pass around the Costa Rica back line and onto the foot of Daryl Dike, whose shot was blocked only to see Brenden Aaronson slam the loose ball over the reach of Costa Rican keeper Leonel Moreira.

Aaronson, 20, burst onto the scene in February 2020 as a surprise call-up by Berhalter out of the Philadelphia Union set-up. He’s score or assist in four of his next five caps before getting tonight’s goal, his third in a USMNT jersey.

Weah was stopped by Moreira with a smart cut shot off a Dike lay-off pass. And the U.S. looked very much the team that just claimed a CONCACAF honor via its Nations League defeat of Mexico.

[ MORE: Hakimi to Chelsea ]

Dike then showed a slight lack of awareness when Aaronson nearly cued him up, then both players attacked the same Antonee Robinson cross as it remained 1-0 after 20 minutes.

Aaronson could’ve had it 2-0 but he went for the showboat finish of a cross, but Dike got his name on the goal sheet when he timed his run well to meet Mark McKenzie’s incisive long pass and had ages to best Moreira.

It was 3-0 shortly after halftime when Reggie Cannon jumped a bad pass informed by the pressing Adams and dribbled into the box to finish his chance.

A series of changes instantly produced when Giovanni Reyna won and converted a penalty for 4-0.

Siebatcheu’s injury late, however, is a big concern. The sub left in stoppage time to leave the team with 10 men after a knee injury that wasn’t quite non-contact but provided the concerns associated with those sort of injuries.