While the U.S. midfield play thus far in the Gold Cup has been sublime for the most part, it has not yet been tested in the tournament.
The Costa Ricans boast a number of talented players, including Michael Barrantes, who scored twice in Costa Rica’s opener. Barrantes plays his club ball for Aalesund in Norway’s Tippeligaen, where he competes against Americans Mix Diskerud, Josh Gatt and Steve Clark.
The Costa Ricans also have Portland Timbers product Rodney Wallace, who has four goals in MLS play this season, as well as Celso Borges, who has 12 goals with AIK in Sweden’s Allsvenskan since arriving in the league in 2012.
Americans Stuart Holden and Mix Diskerud have been bright in the attack for the U.S., but it is likely that only one of them with start as U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann has shown a strong preference towards using the much-maligned Kyle Beckerman in the middle for the U.S.
If Beckerman does start, it will be an important game for him. While he has looked solid so far in the Gold Cup against Belize and Cuba, he has struggled badly with the USMNT in the past against tougher competition.
On the wings, the U.S. is likely to use Joe Corona and Jose Torres. Corona has been one of the most impressive U.S. players so far and this game will be a big test for him. He will have the chance to prove that he can continue to be a playmaker for the U.S. against some tougher competition and U.S. fans will see if he is mindful of his defensive duties. Against Belize and Cuba, he could afford to stay well forward most of the match.
Against Cuba, Torres replaced a disappointing Brek Shea at the half. Shea looked about as rusty as a professional player possibly could, losing possession for the U.S. 14 times in his 45 minutes. Torres did better and his tendency to tuck into the middle allowed for Edgar Castillo to get forward into the attack.
Torres is not a traditional winger, nor has he ever looked his best playing wide in the past. Against Costa Rica, he will have to put in a good performance as he is unlikely to find time in the middle over Beckerman, Holden and Diskerud.