The USMNT gave themselves a 93% chance of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia with a 4-0 win versus Panama. Now, the USA can seal the deal with a win or a draw tomorrow versus Trinidad & Tobago.
Let’s first look at the previous meeting between these two teams at the beginning of June. The USA was victorious that day, beating Trinidad & Tobago 2-0. The golden boy, Christian Pulisic scored a brace that game, sealing the three points for the team.
The Soca Warriors are usually a tough team to break down. On Friday, the Soca Warriors, who are already out of World Cup qualifying contention, brought it to first-place Mexico. In fact, they went up 1-0 in the 66th minute of that game. Ultimately, they fell to Mexico 3-1, but the message was clear. They aren’t backing down from anyone.
For the U.S., this game is not going to be a cakewalk. Especially with it being an away game. Today, we learned that Trinidad & Tobago’s field has a river running around it. It is going to be a sloppy game, which favors Trinidad & Tobago.
With that being said, the USMNT is by far the better team. Overall, we saw a very good team performance against Panama, however, if there is one thing the group needs to work on heading into the game tomorrow, it is their defense. Defensively, the team was good enough to hold off Panama, but going forward, that defensive effort is not going to cut it. The absence of John Brooks really hurts this team, but regardless, they need to figure things out.
Even though the USMNT is a much better team, expect to see a more conservative lineup to maybe hide a few the defense’s flaws. Against Panama, we saw the USMNT play a 4-4-2, which deployed Michael Bradley as the lone defensive midfielder. Deploying another defensive midfielder is the move that could be made. It is a move that would really secure the midfield and give the defense a bit more support in a game where they really just need a point to qualify.
Realistically, Trinidad & Tobago cannot match the class the USMNT has. The USMNT is the better team and should be playing for the win. If there is any player to watch, it is Christian Pulisic. He scored a brace the last time these two teams played and he is coming off a great performance against Panama, which saw him score one and assist another.
The forward pairing of Jozy Altidore and Bobby Wood is another thing to keep an eye on. These two looked on the same page all night, they played off of each other and gave the team two completely different dynamics. Altidore is more of the target man, while Wood brings the pace. They looked very good upfront together and worked the front line very well. However, Clint Dempsey might get a go in this one as he also looked very lively when in. Dempsey is still chasing that allusive record-breaking goal. The forwards are the position to highlight tonight. These guys are going to be the ones playing in Russia, (if the USA qualifies) so in a game where they should be scoring goals, watch to see how they perform.
The USMNT needs just one point to qualify for the World Cup. They have the squad to do it and really, this should be a sure result, however, you never really know with this team. After that Panama game, things are really starting to look up. Let’s hope the job gets done tonight, on the USA’s own terms. Let’s go USA!