Editorial (June 8, 2017) – The United States Men’s National Team take on Trinidad & Tobago tonight. The match is set for a 7:50 pm EST kick off at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, CO. Here’s three keys to the match.
USA vs TRI Preview: Three Keys To The Game
The Yanks have a home game against one of the weaker and least experienced teams in the Hexagonal. They’re also still on the outside of automatic qualification for the World Cup. All of this makes tonight’s match a must win for Head Coach Bruce Arena and company.
1. Defending The Counter Attack:
The players did not hide it this week. They aren’t thinking about Mexico. They’re focused on Trinidad & Tobago. And they know who to hone in on specifically. “Kenwyne Jones is a handful. They’ll be pretty determined to keep things tight and make things hard on us. When they win balls, they’ll be looking to play things up to him,” said Captain Michael Bradley at training on Wednesday.
The Soca Warriors come into this game as underdogs. The hold up play from Jones and ability to releave pressure will be key if they are going to get a result. The 6’2″ striker returned to MLS this year to join Atlanta United FC. Several Americans will be familiar with him. He’s not the only one they’ll be familiar with.
“They have two guys in Kevin Molino and Joevin Jones who a lot of know very well. With their speed and technical ability, they can put you on the back foot. We need to know where they are,” said Bradley. Molino and Joevin Jones have been critical to the attack fo their teams. They’ll play a key role in the counter attack tonight.
Match ups will be key. Which full back goes up against Joevin and how do they play him? The center backs will have to win aerial battles with Kenwyne. Bradley will have the non-trivial task of taking on Kevin Molino in the middle.
2. Physicality, Altitude, And Fresh Legs:
Trinidad does bring something most other CONCACAF teams do not: “Any team in CONCACAF who can match us physically match us has an advantage over other teams. Trinidad has an edge over a lot of teams there,” said Goalkeeper Tim Howard. Given the circumstances, Trindad will be looking to make the game ugly and slow it down, CONCACAFing and all.
The U.S. normally would be able to match this no problem. But all the physicality, at altitude, with only three days to get ready for Mexico? Arena might have to do some serious game management on when the Americans press and decide to slow it down. Hopefully they can get a goal in the first half and manage a lead in the second half.
Do not be surprised if Arena starts to sub key players off with a lead. This will not be trivial unless it’s a Honduras game scoreline.
3. Deuce Chasing LD:
After a fabulous match against Hondruas, Clint Dempsey is one goal away from passing Landon Donovan for the all time scoring record in USMNT history. This is a massive accomplishment for Deuce given his and Donovan’s history with the national team over the last decade plus. It is tremendous considering earlier this year he was still recovering from an irregular heart beat.
“It would be a really nice icing on the cake for him if he could get that record. I can imagine he had some doubts 6-8 months ago,” said Howard.
Dempsey might not be thinking about it. The team probably doesn’t care who scores as long as they win the game. But every moment Dempsey gets the ball on his feet within 10 yards of the box, fans will be on the edge of their seats. Dempsey is one touch away from history.