Costa Rica is coming off of a 0-0 draw against Paraguay and will know that a victory would greatly increase its chances of advancing to the knockout stages.
The 23rd-ranked Costa Ricans should provide a tough challenge for the Americans. Costa Rica is a veteran squad and features several MLS players including Alvaro Saborío, Rónald Matarrita, Christian Bolaños, Johan Venegas, and Kendall Waston.
Waston normally anchors the backline, but is suspended for this match as a result of a red card he received against Paraguay.
With Watson suspended, rightback Cristian Gamboa (West Brom) and centerback Óscar Duarte (Espanyol) are expected to lead the defense. Gamboa is very quick and has a high work rate, but is often caught out of position and isn't a great one-on-one defender.
The 6'0'' Duarte is excellent in the air and is very good at intercepting passes. One of Duarte's main weaknesses is that he frequently commits fouls.
Costa Rica is very physical and its players will look to use their speed to beat U.S. defenders. Although Costa Rica is expected to deploy a 5-4-1, the leftback and rightback frequently join the attack.
When Costa Rica has possession, wingers Bryan Ruiz and Joel Campbell join the lone striker in the final third. As a result, when Costa Rica is attacking its formation will appear to be a 3-4-3.
Costa Rica Roster:
Goalkeepers: Esteban Alvarado (Trabzonspor), Danny Carvajal (Saprissa), Patrick Pemberton (Alajuelense)
Defenders: Johnny Acosta (Alajuelense), Francisco Calvo (Saprissa), Oscar Duarte (Espanyol), Christian Gamboa (West Brom), Ronald Matarrita (NYCFC), Bryan Oviedo (Everton), Jose Salvatierra (Alajuelense), Michael Umaña (Persepolis FC), Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps)
Midfielders: Randall Azofeifa (Herediano), Christian Bolaños (Vancouver Whitecaps) Celso Borges (Deportivo de la Coruña), Esteban Granados (Herediano), Bryan Ruiz (Sporting Lisbon), Yeltsin Tejeda (Evian), Johan Venegas (Monteral Impact)
Defenders: Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin / Germany), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City / England), Edgar Castillo (Monterrey / Mexico), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Moenchengladbach / Germany), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana / Mexico), DeAndre Yedlin (Sunderland / England)
Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (FC Nantes / France), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids), Perry Kitchen (Heart of Midlothian / Scotland), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
This match is a must win for the USMNT and Jurgen Klinsmann will face a lot of scrutiny for his lineup choices. Look for Klinsmann to deploy a 4-5-1 that plays like a 4-3-3, when the U.S. is in possession.
The whole team struggled mightily against Colombia, but Michael Bradley and Bobby Wood were particularly poor. Bradley had several uncharacteristic turnovers and didn't defend well. Wood was invisible and made no contributions to USMNT's few dangerous attacks. Wood may be replaced by Graham Zusi or Christian Pulisic, but Bradley's spot is secure.
The USMNT needs to apply significantly more pressure against Costa Rica. The U.S. allowed Colombia far too much time and space on the ball.
Expect the lineup against Costa Rica to be similar to the starting XI that featured against Colombia. Klinsmann is often reluctant to make drastic changes, even if the team plays badly.
Graham Zusi, Darlington Nagbe, and Christian Pulisic all could break into the lineup, but it is unlikely more than two of these three start.
The backline of John Brooks, Geoff Cameron, Fabian Johnson, and DeAndre Yedlin should face Costa Rica. The defense must be better on set pieces, as the opening goal conceded to Colombia was inexcusable.
The central midfield trio seems likely to consist of Bradley, Jones, and Darlington Nagbe. Look for Nagbe to replace the largely ineffective Alejandro Bedoya. Nagbe is a dynamic, quick player who brings a different element to the U.S. midfield.
Despite calls for Clint Dempsey to benched, he will start. Chris Wondolowski is the only real option to replace Dempsey and Wondolowksi has proven to be ineffective for the USMNT.
Gyasi Zardes will also play, as his speed is needed to combat the pace of the Costa Rican defenders.
Before the Colombia match, Bobby Wood was playing well so look for Klinsmann to give him another chance. However, Christian Pulisic or Graham Zusi may replace Wood.
The key matchups in this game are Joel Campbell vs. Fabian Johnson and Bryan Ruiz vs. DeAndre Yedlin. Campbell and Ruiz are two of Costa Rica's best attackers.
Campbell is extremely quick and could cause problems for Johnson. Ruiz lacks Campbell's pace, but is a deadly playmaker.
If this match has a winner, that team should advance to the quarterfinals. Both teams know that a loss would be detrimental to their respective chances of advancing. Expect the match to be very intense and physical.
The U.S. should be slightly favored as it is the home team and Costa Rica struggled against Paraguay. This match will be close, but I predict that the USMNT wins 2-1.