Costa Rica vs. USA Odds, Pick, Prediction, Best Bets: Can Christian Pulisic, USA Avoid Disaster in FIFA World Cup Qualifying Finale?

Costa Rica vs. USA Odds, Pick, Prediction, Best Bets: Can Christian Pulisic, USA Avoid Disaster in FIFA World Cup Qualifying Finale? article feature image

Julio Aguilar/Getty Images. Pictured: United States standout Christian Pulisic.

  • The United States closes out its FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign Wednesday on the road against Costa Rica.
  • The Americans, who will only fail to secure an automatic bid to Qatar via an unlikely six-goal loss, are slight +150 ML favorites.
  • Ian Quillen breaks down the matchup below and details why he’s expecting Costa Rica to put up a fight in this affair.

Costa Rica vs. USA Odds

Costa Rica Odds+250
USA Odds+115
Over/Under1.5 (-200 / +140)
Day | TimeWednesday | 9:05 p.m. ET
LocationSan José, Costa Rica
How To WatchCBS Sports Network | Paramount+ | fuboTV
Odds updated via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute soccer odds here.

The United States can formally wrap up its berth at the 2022 FIFA World Cup at Qatar on Wednesday in a CONCACAF qualifying finale at Costa Rica.

Because the U.S. holds a three-point lead and +10 advantage in goal difference, anything less lopsided than a six-goal defeat will be enough for the Americans to lock up one of region's three automatic places.

That's probably comforting for the Americans, who are winless in 10 all-time qualifying trips to Costa Rica, which includes losing their last nine meetings.

Los Ticos also have little to lose. Their win at El Salvador combined with Panama's loss to the Americans on Sunday means Costa Rica is guaranteed at least a fourth-place finish.

The region's fourth-place finisher faces the winner of the Oceania confederation in June in a playoff for another spot at the World Cup.

The U.S. defeated Costa Rica, 2-1, this past November in their previous qualifier played in Columbus, Ohio.

Costa Rica Chasing Historic, Lopsided Win

If Costa Rica can pull off a six-goal victory, it would be unprecedented in modern CONCACAF qualifying history.

Only two of 232 previous final-round matches in the federation since the start of the 1998 cycle have been decided by six goals. Both were won by heavily favored sides. In 1998, Mexico blasted Jamaica, 6-0, at Estadio Azteca. In the 2018 final round, U.S. defeated visiting Honduras by the same score.

Perhaps Costa Rica won't even approach the game with that result in mind, given the potential consequences. According to longtime American soccer reporter Grant Wahl, yellow-card accumulation suspensions from CONCACAF qualifying would carry over to a potential intercontinental qualifier.

Costa Rica have nine players sitting on a yellow entering this game. They include all three of the Ticos' multi-goal scorers: Brian Ruiz, Joel Campbell and Celso Borges.

Updated FIFA 2022 CONCACAF Standings

Costa Rica6-3-422
El Salvador2-7-410

Goal Differential Gives USA Huge Cushion

Meanwhile, manager Gregg Berhalter is in the tricky situation of deciding how seriously to take the threat of a catastrophic six-goal loss at the end of a grueling three-game, seven-day stretch.

Center back Walker Zimmerman and left back Antonee Robinson have played every minute of the first two matches of the window. Chelsea star Christian Pulisic and RB Leipzig stalwart Tyler Adams have played more than 150 minutes.

It might be tempting to start all four of those on the bench, with the idea they could all enter if things became dicey. However, even with odds on a Costa Rica win by six goals around +40000 at one book, the trauma of the Americans' failure to qualify in 2018 might convince Berhalter to play his best.

At the very least, I'd expect winger Tim Weah and right back DeAndre Yedlin to start after missing Sunday's match to card accumulation suspension. Borussia Dortmund standout Giovanni Reyna might also get the nod after a pair of influential appearances as a substitute.

The U.S. is looking for just its second away qualifying victory after coming from behind in a 4-1 win over Honduras early in the campaign. Yet, they're also coming off one of their best away performances, which came via a 0-0 draw at Mexico in which the Americans clearly had the better chances.

One final detail: Portugal's UEFA qualifying playoff win over North Macedonia on Tuesday gives the U.S. even less to play for, ending any chance they might slide into Pot 1 in Friday's World Cup draw.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

This is a tricky one. You'd be smart to wait for lineups, just in case one team plays far closer to full strength than the other. However, let's assume both managers mix their lineups to maximize benefits while minimizing risk.

For all the talk of the Americans' woes in Mexico City, it's Costa Rica that is the true death trap, historically. The Americans' four points earned in Mexico since the 1997 cycle are four more than they've earned in Costa Rica in the same span.

The Ticos likely also have more to play for via what is expected to be a sold-out, home crowd. Even with a less-than-full-strength lineup, that energy can influence these kinds of matches.

I think particularly of the 2009 qualifying meeting between these teams in Washington. Then, an already-qualified American team scored a stoppage-time equalizer at home to keep Costa Rica from traveling to South Africa.

Similarly, it was a home crowd that propelled South Korea to a 1-0 win over Portugal to keep Americans alive at the 2002 World Cup. South Korea didn't need a win to advance from their group.

And if Los Ticos take any sort of lead, there's very little reason for the Americans to aggressively seek an equalizer. Maintaining the goal-difference advantage is the top priority.

Lastly, if you remove games against vastly improved Canada, this U.S. team has performed in line with historical qualifying norms: Defending its home turf exceptionally, and snagging points away against weaker foes.

The norm in Costa Rica is a loss.

All that leads me to back the host underdogs. Because of the Americans' three away draws and the Costa Ricans' lack of offense, I'll buy some insurance in a Draw No Bet wager, which returns your stake if the game ends level.

At +140 odds, you're wagering on a 41.7% implied probability that the game will go the Ticos' way if it doesn't end even. History suggests that's generous.

Pick: Costa Rica — Draw No Bet (+140)

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