Editorial (June 8, 2017) – The United States Men’s National Team took care of business on Thursday night. After a frustrating first half, two quick goals by wonderboy Christian Pulisic led the Americans to victory, 2-0 over Trinidad & Tobago.
American Head Coach Bruce Arena had his team in a 4-4-2 formation. John Brooks started next to Geoff Cameron despite the injury concerns. Captain Michael Bradley started next to Christian Pulisic in the midfield. Fabian Johnson started in front of Jorge Villafana. Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey started up top.
Trinidad Manager Dennis Lawrence had a 3-4-3 Starting XI. Jan-Michael Williams started in goal. Seattle Sounders full back Joevin Jones highlighted the midfield on the wing. Kenwyne Jones started up top with Kevin Molino on the wings behind him. Kevan George led a deep lying central midfield.
Christian Pulisic Brace Lifts The United States Over Trinidad & Tobago 2-0
With Trinidad playing tight and central heavy tactics, the Americans had to use their wings to create offense. Dempsey and Pulisic roamed from touchline to touchline, while Johnson and Nagbe provided service from out wide.
Dempsey nearly scored in the 15th minute. Villafana and Johnson had a nice overlap on the wing. Johnson got the ball with a passing lane and found Dempsey in stride. The forward took a touch to line up his shot, but it was just over the bar.
The Americans came alive in the 22nd minute, attacking in waves from all over the field. The best chance came in the 26th minute when Altidore had a shot lined up from Villafana, but Williams made a great save and got the rebound.
The Soca Warriors calmed things down after that, holding the ball and getting some chances in transition. K. Jones headed a ball off the cross bar in the 33rd minute with Howard off his line. The rebound came out and Bradley collected. That was Trinidad’s best chance of the half.
The Americans responded. Altidore forced Williams to make a great save in the 35th minute with almost the exact same sequence as the Dempsey chance.
The half ended 0-0 with the Americans enjoying 55-45 edge in possession and a 10-7 advantage in shots (5-1 on goal).
The United States finally got their goal at the start of the first half. At the 53rd minute, Nagbe made a run into the box from midfield. Jostling with a defender, he laid the ball off to a sprinting Yedlin. The full back hit the ball first time and Pulisic tapped it into an open net to take the lead.
Trinidad nearly tied it up a minute later through Nathan Lewis but the play was called off sides. With the lead, the U.S. calmed down and doubled their lead in the 62nd minute. Altidore received the ball near midfield, turned, and fired a low through ball into space. Pulisic ran onto it and blasted the ball past Williams near post to make it 2-0.
With a comfortable lead, the Americans started playing more conservatively. Trinidad had trouble creating any chances with the Americans committing numbers at the back. Substitute Bobby Wood had the best chance of the final 30 minutes, hitting the woodwork in the 84th minute from the top of the box.
The match ended 2-0.
This loss is a big blow to Trinidad & Tobago. They are now firmly in last place in the Hexagonal. World Cup qualification was always going to be a long shot, but with the U.S. possibly looking ahead to Mexico, this was a lost chance. The 3-4-3 held serve for awhile. It will take a miricle for them to dig out of this hole. Still, for a small soccer nation, just making it to the Hexagonal is a big step for them towards relevance in the region.
While the first half performance was not ideal, this is a fabulous result for the United States. They won the game and helped pad their goal differential. This gives them a huge boost in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and getting an automatic qualifying bid. There were no injuries and three important players got some rest. This puts them in a good position to try and get a result in Mexico.