The United States came from behind to beat rivals Costa Rica 2-1 in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying on Wednesday.

Sergino Dest scored a stunning goal as a youthful USA side overturned an early deficit to bounce back from their shock loss in Panama – the nation's first defeat during the 2022 qualifying campaign.

With an average age of 22 years and 229 days, USA's starting XI was the youngest fielded by the country in a World Cup qualifying fixture midweek.

USA faced an early test in Columbus after Keysher Fuller's volley found a way past goalkeeper Zack Steffen and into the back of the net in just the first minute.

A moment of brilliance from 20-year-old Dest restored parity for Gold Cup champions USA in the 25th minute – the Barcelona full-back drifted onto his left foot on the edge of the penalty area and fired a powerful strike into the top corner.

Gregg Berhalter's USA completed their comeback with 24 minutes remaining at Lower.com Field.

Costa Rica's Leonel Moreira – who replaced Keylor Navas at half-time – was unable to keep out Timothy Weah's shot at the near post.

USA moved level with arch-rivals Mexico on 11 points before El Tri face El Salvador on the road to Qatar 2022.

 Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz got their first points of the CONCACAF World Cup final round, with a hard-fought 1-1 draw to Costa Rica, which was a tale of two halves.

Costa Rica went ahead early, but Jamaica found an answer to force the teams to split a point Wednesday at the Estadio Nacional in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Costa Rica took the lead in the third minute when Bryan Ruiz weighed up a beautiful ball for Jonathan Moya on the back post. The attacker Moya spotted Jimmy Marin making a run and used his head to set Marin up for an easy shot over the line, with Jamaica GK Andre Blake still working to defend a potential shot from Moya on the post.

Yet, Jamaica was able to find an equalizer just after the halftime break. Left-back Kemar Lawrence got into the final third with the ball and plenty of space in the 47th minute and teed up a cross for Shamar Nicholson. Nicholson didn’t hit his header entirely cleanly, but that seemed to flummox goalkeeper Keylor Navas, and Nicholson was off to celebrate his second goal of World Cup qualification.

Costa Rica was on the break again in the 68th minute, with Marin breaking free, but his touch took him too wide and Jamaica was able to recover from the danger.

There was danger on Navas’ net in the 87th minute, with the former Concacaf Goalkeeper of the Year making a pair of interventions, including using his legs to sweep away a ball that Javon East was attempting to control in the box.

It’s the first point Jamaica has earned in qualification, with the Reggae Boyz set to look for more points in October when they travel to face the U.S.

 Costa Rica’s first match of the October window is away to Honduras and the Ticos will look to add to the pair of points they amassed in September.

After a lengthy absence from the team, Jamaica Reggae Boyz midfielder JeVaughn Watson is hoping to lead the way, as a senior player, when the team looks to bounce back from a tough start to its World Cup qualification campaign.

With two matches already gone in the hexagonal round, the Jamaicans are yet to get a point on the board following a 2-1 away loss to Mexico and dismal showing in a 3-0 loss against Panama at the National Stadium.

Even so, the decision to recall Watson, ahead of the team’s crucial clash against Costa Rica, could certainly be seen as a decision out of left field.  Despite once being a lynchpin of the national team’s midfield, the player has not appeared for the Reggae Boyz since 2019 and has not played much football locally either.

The 37-year-old, however, believes he can still be of value to the squad and hopes to anchor its efforts to get points on the board.

“I’m naturally a robust player, I break up plays try to keep the unit together, try to build a vibe leading up to the game.  Whenever we are having fun, you always get the best out of us,” Watson said.

“I’ll be a senior player, try to get the group together.  Try to go out there and be a menace to midfield, to break up players and move us forward, link with each other, and try to see what we can do from there.”

 

 

Defender Kemar Lawrence and forward Norman Campbell have joined the rest of Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz after facing immigration issues upon arrival in Costa Rica.

Lawrence and Campbell were initially denied entry into the South American country on arrival based on residency documentation issues.  Based on the country’s immigration laws four groups of countries can enter the country with or without a visa.  Group one states that citizens of these countries do not require a Costa Rican visa. They only need a valid passport with at least one day left on arrival in Costa Rica with a return ticket.

Lawrence is a United States green card holder and Campbell is a citizen of Slovenia.  Residents of both countries are in the group allowed entry into Costa Rica without a visa.  Lawrence, however, lost his official green card documentation during the Gold Cup.   

Campbell's visa was expired, and Costa Rica immigration did not accept evidence of his Slovenian residency.  He did not have a Slovenia passport in his possession.  Since losing his documents Lawrence has received written permission to travel in the form of a stamp in his passport from US Homeland Security.  It was, however, not accepted by the Costa Rica embassy.

Assistance was, however, sought through diplomatic channels, through Jamaica’s Ambassador out of Mexico with responsibility for Costa Rica and the Costa Rican Ambassador in Jamaica, as well as Jamaica’s Minister of Sports, the Honourable Olivia Grange. The efforts eventually led to the relevant government minister in Costa Rica signing off on allowing both players to enter the country.

The Jamaican team has had a torrid start to the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers following a narrow 2-1 loss to Mexico and 3-0 thrashing at home at the hands of Panama.  The team will look to get things on track in tomorrow night’s encounter against Costa Rica at 8:00 pm.

Mexico preserved their 100 per cent record in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying after edging Costa Rica 1-0 away from home.

Orbelin Pineda converted a penalty in first-half stoppage time and it proved to be enough on Sunday as Mexico made it two wins from two games in the Octagonal section of qualifying on the road to Qatar 2022.

Mexico head coach Gerardo Martino did not travel to Costa Rica after undergoing eye surgery and assistant Jorge Teller deputised in the absence of the former Barcelona and Argentina boss.

El Tri were underwhelming in their opening 2-1 win over Jamaica and they made another timid start on the road – Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa forced into a save to deny Costa Rica captain Bryan Ruiz.

Mexico had a great chance to break the deadlock three minutes later in the 18th minute after Rogelio Funes Mori found himself in a one-on-one situation with Keylor Navas, who thwarted the forward from close range.

Visiting Mexico did draw first blood on the stroke of half-time – Pineda scoring from the spot after Bryan Oviedo was penalised for a foul on Andres Guardado.

Costa Rica continued to push numbers forward and almost salvaged a point at the death, however, Keysher Fuller's 92nd-minute effort rattled the woodwork.

 Costa Rica and Jamaica delivered an exciting, tight game, but in the end, it was Costa Rica who took the 1-0 win and top spot in Group C on Tuesday night at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida.

The game was delayed a little over two hours due to inclement weather, but it had no effect on the explosiveness and pressure both Costa Rica and Jamaica showed within the first few seconds of the match. Neither side wasted any time in starting to look for a goal.

For the first 15 minutes, it was an intense back and forth with some dangerous shots close to the goal that had the fans on edge, but no goals were scored.

The Costa Rica goal was under attack from the Jamaicans during the final minutes of the opening half, but Costa Rica GK Leonel Moreira denied Jamaica from opening the scoring.

It was the same story into the second half, with Jamaica probing for a goal, and in the 51’, Jamaica forward Andre Gray blasted a shot straight onto the post.

Costa Rica answered almost immediately with a play that started with a slide tackle win for the Ticos and a flawless pass from  Ariel Lassiter into the box that found Costa Rican captain Bryan Ruiz heading into the back of the net to make it 1-0 to Costa Rica in the 53rd.

Things got complicated for the Ticos in the 72nd when Moreira got a straight red card for a handball outside the box, leaving Costa Rica with 10 men with at least 20 minutes left in the match.

The Reggae Boyz continued to attack and pressure in Costa Rica’s half looking to score again and again, but with no luck, leaving Costa Rica as the group winner.

 

Sixteen-year-old Tina Clayton produced the most outstanding performance over the weekend (9-11) as her team Jamaica dominated the NACAC U23 and U18 Championships, the first of the area’s regional events in 17 months.

Clayton improved her 100m personal best from 11.25 to 11.17 to claim gold in the U18 category. Despite her impressive time, the best by world ranking standards, the mark was not among the 17 championship records broken at Costa Rica’s National Stadium. Her countrywoman and 2018 world U20 champion Briana Williams kept her 11.11 time clocked at the previous edition in Mexico in 2019.

A world leader among U18 athletes, Clayton’s 11.17 places her third-fastest among U20 athletes in 2021, behind fellow Jamaicans Williams (10.97) and Ackera Nugent (11.09).

Two other 16-year-old Jamaicans also left their mark in San Jose. Alana Reid ran 23.78 for 200m gold and became the first U18 woman to break 24 seconds at the championships. Reid also anchored her team to the 4x100m title in 45.49. She was joined by 100m silver medallist Serena Cole, Clayton and Kerrica Hill.

World leader Jaydon Hibbert broke the 16-metre barrier with a 16.02m leap in the triple jump, a 34cm improvement on his previous best.

The world’s fastest U20 sprint hurdler and fourth-fastest ever, Nugent, returned to the regional event where she placed second in the U18 category and to the same stadium where she claimed silver at the Pan American U20 Championships in 1999. The 2021 NCAA bronze medallist easily dominated the 100m hurdles in 13.64, despite a strong headwind of -2.2m/s.

Sprint hurdler Orlando Bennett (13.65), 400m specialist Charokee Young (52.06) and long jumper Shakwon Coke (7.88m into a -2.6m/s wind) also shone for Jamaica, all in the U23 category. Alicke Cranston also impressed with his 10.42 winning time in the 100m.

Alexander Ogando, member of the bronze medal-winning team for the Dominican Republic at the 2021 World Athletics Relays in Poland, impressed on the final day by winning the 200m in 20.59, just 0.05 shy of his personal best. Ogando, who has run 45.01 for 400m, will be a key piece in his country’s mixed relay at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

With the CARIFTA Games suspended two consecutive years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the regional championships opened an elusive competitive opportunity for U20 athletes in the region. Eighteen-year-old Bahamian Camille Rutherford took the sprint double in 11.36 and 23.42, a personal best at the longer distance.

National record-holder and Tokyo-bound Jonathan Jones won one of the five gold medals for Barbados by covering the one-lap race in 46.20, in a close battle with Jamaica’s 2018 world U20 silver medallist Christopher Taylor, who was second with 46.58. Taylor is also qualified for the Summer Games.

Shiann Salmon, Taylor, 100m silver medallist Odaine Mcpherson and Young joined their efforts to set a new standard of 3:20.71 in the mixed relay, contested for the first time at the championships. Their Jamaican teammates Kishay Rowe, Roshawn Clarke, Oneika Brissett and Delano Kennedy set the new time of 3:25.27 in the U18 category.

 Juan Diego Castro led the home team with a victory in the 800m in 1:48.82. Fourth at the 2017 World U18 Championships, he has improved his national record in both the 800m and 1500m. His 17-year-old compatriot Sharon Lisseth Herrera set a meeting record in the 5000m race walk with 23:18.14.

In the same event, Guatemala’s Yasury Betzayda Palacios rewrote the record books with a 22:31.13 effort in the U23 category. In total 13 records were broken, plus the two mixed relays.

With 61 athletes, Jamaica dominated the medal tally with 67 medals (39 gold, 18 silver and 10 bronze), ahead of the host nation (19-20-23=62) and Bahamas (17-18-7=42). All 19 participating nations won at least one medal. Due to Covid restrictions, some regional powerhouses did not attend, including the United States, Canada, Cuba and Mexico.

A fully fit Leon Bailey has been included in Jamaica’s 23-man squad named today for the 2021 Gold Cup competition in the United States.

A youthful United States side had no trouble with Costa Rica on Wednesday, rolling to a 4-0 friendly victory at Rio Tinto Stadium in Utah. 

USA head coach Gregg Berhalter made nine changes from the side that defeated Mexico in the CONCACAF Nations League final on Sunday, naming a starting XI with an average age of 23 years, 278 days. 

With stars Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie resting on the bench, two USA players scored their first international goals in a match that was never in doubt. 

Brenden Aaronson opened the scoring after eight minutes, rushing into the area to drive a rebound past Leonel Moreira after Daryl Dike's shot attempt was blocked by a Costa Rica defender. 

Three minutes before the interval, Dike slipped behind the Costa Rica defense and eased a shot past the onrushing Moreira for his first international goal and a 2-0 USA lead at the break. 

Early in the second half, Reggie Cannon opened his international account as well, slotting home a left-footed shot after intercepting a careless Costa Rica pass. 

Moments after coming on as a substitute in the 75th minute, 18-year-old Gio Reyna drew a penalty on a foul by Keysher Fuller in the box and converted for his fourth USA goal. 

Ethan Horvath got the start in goal for the USA on his 26th birthday after his stunning 120th-minute penalty save on Mexico's Andres Guardado on Sunday and turned in a clean sheet. 

Costa Rica are now winless in their last 11 matches (2D, 9L) dating to a 2-1 victory over Curacao in November 2019. 

Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa was the hero as El Tri prevailed 5-4 on penalties against Costa Rica to set up a showdown with rivals the United States in the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League final.

After Thursday's semi-final ended 0-0 at the end of 90 minutes, Ochoa produced the decisive save in the shoot-out to deny Allan Cruz in Denver and send Mexico through to the blockbuster final on Sunday.

CONCACAF Gold Cup holders Mexico – missing injured star Raul Jimenez – drew a blank across 90 minutes and had missed their first penalty via Uriel Antuna.

Hirving Lozano, Orbelin Pineda, Alan Pulido, Luis Romo and Jesus Gallardo all converted their ensuing spot-kicks, after Oscar Duarte missed for Costa Rica, before Ochoa's crucial intervention diving to his right to save Cruz's effort.

The win continues Mexico's dominance over Costa Rica, winning all three shoot-outs and their past nine encounters, dating back to 2013.

Lozano almost spectacularly opened the scoring in the eighth minute with a right-foot overhead kick, which hit the crossbar after a touch from Leonel Moreira – who was deputising for absent Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Keylor Navas.

Diego Lainez came close for Mexico with a drilled shot going narrowly wide 12 minutes later against Costa Rica.

Costa Rica created chances of their own, with former Arsenal forward Joel Campbell setting up Keysher Fuller for an angled shot which was blocked by Ochoa.

Bryan Ruiz and Costa Rica team-mate Campbell combined, with the crafty Alonso Martinez shooting off target on his left foot on the half-hour mark.

Mexico almost broke the deadlock shortly before half-time after a clever dummy from Henry Martin opened up a side-foot chance for Hector Herrera but Moreira was up to the task.

Martinez muscled his way into the box but blazed a deflected shot wide after the break, while Herrera produced a powerful 57th-minute strike from range which stung Moreira's palms, before the game went to penalties.

Hirving Lozano's last-gasp header earned Mexico a 1-0 friendly victory over Costa Rica on Tuesday.

Costa Rica's goal lived a charmed life throughout the meeting in Austria, though it appeared Keylor Navas and company had done enough to keep Mexico at bay.

Indeed, Mexico's luck seemed out when Lozano and Orbelin Pineda both hit the crossbar in the 73rd minute, either side of Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Navas making a superb stop on the line to deny Hector Moreno.

Yet fortune ultimately favoured Gerardo Martino's side – who had 18 attempts but only hit the target three times – with Lozano turning in Luis Romo's flick-on in the 89th minute before a dreadful miss from Allan Cruz at the other end settled the contest.

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