February 2, 2020 / 2:35 AM / in 6 months

U.S. opens year with 1-0 friendly win over Costa Rica

Feb 1, 2020; Carson, California, USA; United States forward Ulysses Llanez (19) celebrates after his goal on a penalty kick during the second half against Costa Rica at Dignity Health Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - The United States men’s soccer team won their first match of 2020 with a 1-0 friendly victory over CONCACAF rival Costa Rica on Saturday in Carson, California.

Ulysses Llanez, an 18-year-old striker, scored from the penalty spot in the 50th minute to give the young American side the victory.

He celebrated by pretending to shoot a jump shot in honor of former Los Angeles Lakers basketball player Kobe Bryant, who was killed in a helicopter crash last week.

The U.S. is trying to rebuild its program under Gregg Berhalter who was hired a little more than a year ago.

Esteban Alvarado was superb in goal for Costa Rica as he made four superb saves from the Americans.

The U.S. team will next head to Europe for a pair of friendlies against the Netherlands and Wales in late March.

Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Christopher Cushing

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