US returns to World Cup despite 2-0 loss at Costa Rica


SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) — The United States men are returning to the World Cup after the trauma of missing the 2018 tournament, clinching a berth for this year’s championship in Qatar on Wednesday despite a 2-0 loss to Costa Rica on the final night of qualifying.

Juan Pablo Vargas got behind Walker Zimmerman and headed Brandon Aguilera’s corner kick past goalkeeper Zack Steffen in the 51st minute, and Anthony Contreras knocked in a cross off a scramble in the 59th after Steffen couldn’t hold onto a free kick.

A sellout crowd of about 35,000 in National Stadium came to life, but the Americans’ 5-1 rout of Panama at home last weekend gave them a huge goal-difference margin over Costa Rica. That meant the U.S. merely had to avoid losing by six goals or more in order to claim an automatic berth by finishing among the top three nations in North and Central America and Caribbean.



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