The United States men’s national team topped Trinidad and Tobago, 4-0, to clinch a spot in the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. On an unseasonably pleasant summer’s night in Jacksonville, Florida, the U.S. got off to a slow start but stepped on the gas pedal thanks to a Jozy Altidore brace and some fine play by the younger players.
T&T came out in the first half and didn’t back down from the USA. They had nothing to lose after clinching their spot in the Hex already and made life difficult for the Americans early on.
Christian Pulisic almost nabbed a goal on his full debut for the USMNT if not for his shot hitting both posts, he would’ve increased his hype to even more ridiculous levels.
The Soca Warriors had their fair share of chances. Most of which were created by Joevin Jones of the Seattle Sounders down the right flank. Several times he got inside defenders and in the danger area, but he wasn’t able to finish.
Finally, the U.S. broke through just before the half when Sacha Kljestan found a loose ball in the box and toe poked into the net from around 14 yard out. It was his second goal in as many matches after being cast out of the national team picture for more than two years.
Again T&T came out of the break with a point to prove but the U.S. held strong defensively for the opening 15 minutes and struck again through Jozy Altidore. After the second tally went in, T&T heads dropped and the flood gates toward the U.S. attacking end opened.
A third goal soon followed allowed by some great team play in the midfield by Sacha Kljestan and Pulisic on the left side. The latter found Altidore again at the back post for his second of the night.
Substitute Paul Arriola added to Trinidad & Tobago’s troubles with a fourth minutes after, finishing a rebound from point blank range.
The win wraps up a spot in the Hexagonal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying for the USA where they’ll play this same team two more times.
- With qualification clinched, T&T put on the pressure from the opening whistle. With both teams attacking, they sort of negated each other in the beginning.
- Christian Pulisic didn’t look fazed at all in his first ever start. It wasn’t the greatest of first halves for the USMNT, but he was one of the lone bright spots as he worked extremely hard on both sides of the ball and showed glimpses of magic. One particular moment being a nutmeg on the left side of the field and a perfect cross-field switch to Bedoya. Later in the half, he had a double post hit off a feed from Jozy Altidore.
- While Pulisic and Johnson had a great attacking dynamic between them, their defensive prowess was a little lacking as Joevin Jones ate them for lunch on the right side of the field.
- After the second goal went in, the game was over as T&T looked dejected. However, it was great to see some youth on the field in a meaningful match.
- For my money, Pulisic was the best player on the field, no hyperbole needed. He was fantastic against a legitimate CONCACAF team.
Next month, the USMNT have two friendlies scheduled during the FIFA international break. One away from home in Havana against the Cuba national team (October 7, TBD) and one at home against New Zealand at RFK Stadium (October 11, 8pm). The CONCACAF Hexagonal begins in early November.