NASHVILLE, Tenn. (April 1, 2009) — Forward Jozy Altidore became the youngest player in history to score a hat trick for the U.S. Men’s National Team, tallying all three goals tonight for the U.S. Men’s National Team in a dominating 3-0 victory against Trinidad & Tobago in front of a raucous crowd of 27,959 at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn. With the victory, the U.S. continued to hold their place at the top of the hexagonal in the final round of qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Altidore had midfielder Landon Donovan to thank for his record-setting performance, as the USA’s all-time leading scorer set up the 19-year-old forward for all three of his strikes while increasing his record-setting tally to 35 career assists. The first connection between the two occurred in the 13th minute, and the duo hooked up two more times in the second half as the U.S. continued their dominance against Trinidad & Tobago at home, now 7-0-1 overall in World Cup qualifying.
With Mexico losing 3-1 to Honduras, and Costa Rica posting a 1-0 win against El Salvador, the USA’s seven points from three games provides them a one-point advantage over second place Costa Rica. The top two teams in the group will face off on June 3 in Matchday 4, with the U.S. traveling to Costa Rica for their second match on the road in the final round. The match is three days earlier than the rest of the hexagonal due to the need to travel to South Africa in preparation for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup. The second match for the U.S. on the double fixture date will be against Honduras on June 6 at Soldier Field in Chicago (tickets). Two days later, the U.S. will depart for South Africa.
"Full credit to the players," said U.S. head coach Bob Bradley, who continued the team’s unblemished 6-0-0 home record in 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying. "After the last match we were certainly pleased with the push we made when we were behind, but there were things in that match that we felt were not indicative of what we're all about. The players felt strongly about that, and I think you could see the response from the team from the beginning tonight."
Altidore’s goals marked the first time in his career in which he has scored goals in consecutive games, having scored the USA’s first goal against El Salvador in the 2-2 draw on Saturday, March 28, at Estadio Cuscatlán. It also marked the first time that the U.S. has produced multiple goal scorers in three consecutive home matches, with Sacha Kljestan notching a hat trick in the 3-2 win against Sweden on Jan. 24, 2009, and Michael Bradley scoring a brace in the 2-0 win against Mexico on Feb. 11 in Columbus.
“When you have 11 guys on the field working hard and working together as a team, an individual can have a good night. That's just how it happens, “said Altidore, who increased his tally to five goals in 2010 World Cup qualifying. “When the team plays well, individuals will shine, but at the same time we have to keep the mentality that things aren't easy in CONCACAF. These are good teams to play against and sometimes they're tough to break down, as you saw tonight. I just want to keep going forward and keep working hard and hopefully good things will happen.”
Bradley made a handful of changes from the lineup that started the 2-2 draw against El Salvador four nights earlier, deploying DaMarcus Beasley at left back behind Landon Donovan as a left-sided midfielder. Goalkeeper Tim Howard returned to the starting lineup after serving a one-match suspension for accumulation of yellow cards to earn his seventh career shutout in FIFA World Cup qualifying. Three-time World Cup veteran Pablo Mastroeni also returned to the starting lineup, while Altidore earned his fourth start in qualifying.
Despite being the aggressors from the opening whistle, the U.S. came close to an ominous beginning when a bouncing back pass by Oguchi Onyewu gave Howard some trouble and his one-time clearance went straight at the feet of Stern John. Fortunately, John wasn’t expecting the ball and it deflected off his legs to go wide right of the goal.
The first good chance for the U.S. came in the eighth minute, when a through ball was deflected into the air near the top of the box, falling to Dempsey. He headed it into the penalty area for a charging Ching, the forward doing well to chase the ball down and hold off his defender and slip a dangerous ball across the goal mouth, but it was just out of the reach of Altidore for what could have been an easy tap-in.
Altidore would be in the right place at the right time five minutes later to secure a lead the U.S. would never relinquish. Bocanegra got the ball into the attack with a long ball up the left flank, and four touches later the ball was in the back of T&T’s net. Rising to meet the Bocanegra service, Ching deftly headed the ball to Donovan, who brought it down with his chest and inside the box before slipping a pass across the six-yard box for Altidore to bury with one touch past a helpless Clayton Ince.
Altidore almost doubled the score in the 27th minute after Bradley sent a perfectly weighted cross behind the defense and onto the chest of Altidore near the corner of the six-yard box. He tried to chip the goalkeeper as Ince was rushing out, but the deft attempt dipped over the bar.
Trinidad & Tobago had a handful of chances, including a dangerous chance in the 33rd minute for veteran Stern John. With his back to goal, the seasoned player brought it down with his chest and hit a volley that went wide right of Howard’s goal. Overall, the Soca Warriors finished with only a single shot on goal.
The U.S. had two great sequences back-to-back in the 41st and 42nd minutes, but amazingly wasn’t able to double the lead going into halftime. The first opportunity was created by Beasley slipping Ching into the left side of the penalty area. Ching drove a cross into the six-yard area for Altidore, but his left-footed touch from four yards out let him down and the ball rose agonizingly over the crossbar. Keeping the ball in the area after the goal kick, a through ball for Beasley was deflected back out on the left side of the penalty area right to Donovan. He hit a swerving cross back towards Beasley, who directed a header on frame but straight into the waiting hands of Ince.
The side went into the locker room with a 1-0 lead at halftime, an advantage that has proved almost insurmountable during the Bradley era. The victory increases the team’s record to 16-0-1 when leading at the half. Bradley now boasts a 24-8-4 career record, and 15-1-3 tally against CONCACAF opponents.
Second-half action began with a dangerous chance for the U.S. in the 50th minute, when Donovan sent a free kick into the box. The looping ball connected with captain Bocanegra, but his header went over the crossbar.
Trinidad & Tobago defender Akile Edwards will sit out the squad’s next match due to yellow card accumulation after earning a yellow card in the 53rd minute with a late tackle on Altidore. Just 10 minutes later, forward Kenwyne Jones produced some danger off a free kick. Jones lined up about 25 yards out and sent a shot right into the wall. The ball bounced right back to him and hit it again, sending it toward the upper left corner. Howard was prepared for it, however, and calmly snagged it out of the air.
In the 71st minute, Altidore struck again, once again assisted by Donovan. Awaiting a pass from Beasley, the midfielder cleverly spun past his defender and held the ball on the left side before slipping a ball into the center for Altidore, who cut it past his defender and calmly curled a shot past Ince into the far side netting.
With the match winding down and both teams still pushing forward, Bradley used two of the three allowed substitutions, bringing in José Francisco Torres for Brian Ching in the 81st minute and Sacha Kljestan for Clint Dempsey in the 84th minute. One minute later, the fresh legs seemed to spark the attack as Kljestan held onto the ball on the right side and sent a looping cross that went over everybody in the area, including Ince. Torres brought it down on the left side and passed it into the middle for Donovan, but he couldn’t get a good look and sent a weak shot wide right.
The U.S. was not done attacking, however, and the ever-energetic Frankie Hejduk alertly sent a long ball up the right side for Bradley in the 89th minute who perfectly timed a run behind the defense. The assistant referee’s flag stayed down as Bradley found himself alone with the ball and a clear path to the goal. Bradley carried the ball into the area and unselfishly dished it out to an unmarked Donovan on the left side of the six-yard box. Donovan, who could have easily taken a point-blank shot, instead tapped it back out to the center of the area where Altidore took one touch before delivering a weak shot that bounced just under a diving Ince and slithered into the lower left corner to seal the hat trick.
- U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM MATCH REPORT -
Match: United States vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Date: April 1, 2009
Competition: FIFA World Cup Qualifying; Final Round
Venue: LP Field - Nashville, Tennessee
Kickoff: 6:45 p.m. MT
Weather: Fair, 61 degrees
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 2 3
TRI 0 0 0
USA – Jozy Altidore (Landon Donovan) 13th minute
USA – Altidore (Donovan) 71
USA – Altidore (Donovan) 89
USA: 1-Tim Howard; 2-Frankie Hejduk, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (capt.), 5-Oguchi Onyewu, 7-DaMarcus Beasley; 8-Clint Dempsey (16-Sacha Kljestan, 84), 12-Michael Bradley, 4-Pablo Mastroeni, 10-Landon Donovan, 11-Brian Ching (6- José Francisco Torres, 81), 17-Jozy Altidore
Subs not used: 18-Brad Guzan, 9-Eddie Johnson, 13-Maurice Edu, 14-Jay DeMerit, 15-Jonathan Bornstein
Head Coach: Bob Bradley
TRI: 1-Clayton Ince; 3-Aklie Edwards, 8-Anthony Wolfe (4-Makan Hislop, 46), 5-Keyeno Thomas, 6-Dennis Lawrence; 7-Christopher Birchall (16-Khaleem Hyland, 56), 11-Carlos Edwards, 2-Clyde Leon, 17-Keon Daniel (12-Jason Scotland, 71); 15-Kenwyne Jones, 14-Stern John
Subs not used: 9-Trent Noel, 10-Russell Latapy, 13-Densill Theobald, 18-Jan Michael Williams
Head Coach: Francisco Maturana
Stats Summary: USA / TRI
Shots: 14 / 6
Shots on Goal: 6 / 1
Saves: 1 / 3
Corner Kicks: 2 / 2
Fouls: 12 / 14
Offside: 3 / 0
TRI – Aklie Edwards (caution) 53rd minute
Referee: Roberto Moreno (PAN)
Assistant Referee 1: Daniel Williamson (PAN)
Assistant Referee 2: Carlos Pastrana (HON)
Fourth Official: Luis Rodriguez (PAN)
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