US men's national soccer team clinch spot in 2022 World Cup in Qatar
Despite losing 2-0 in Costa Rica on Wednesday night, the U.S. men's national soccer team officially qualified for this year’s tournament in Qatar
four years after a series of sub-par and unlucky results caused them to miss soccer’s biggest event for the first time in 32 years.
The loss to the Ticos dropped the USMNT a spot, to third, in the standings, but it was still enough to get one of Concacaf's three automatic spots.
Canada and Mexico also qualified, while Costa Rica will go to a one-game playoff in June against a team from Oceania.
The USMNT had essentially qualified with its 5-1 win over Panama on Sunday, needing only to avoid losing to Costa Rica by six or more goals.
But coach Gregg Berhalter and his players didn't want to leave anything to chance, saying the USMNT had thought it was safe going into the final game four years ago, too.
With the exception of Gio Reyna, who had struggled to recover from a stomach bug after the qualifier in Mexico last Thursday, Berhalter started the best lineup he had available.
Costa Rica, meanwhile, rested several key players who had yellow cards, not wanting to risk them picking up another and being suspended for the playoff.
The World Cup begins Nov. 21 and will be played over four weeks at eight stadiums across Qatar.