COMING ACROSS THE POND: With the match falling on a FIFA international fixture date slated for friendlies, clubs were only required to release players 48 hours prior to kickoff. Beasley was the first of the European contingent to arrive stateside, having completed league play on Wednesday. Cory Gibbs and Gregg Berhalter were next to follow suit, arriving into Miami on Saturday afternoon. Kasey Keller was dealt the worst cards, having played a Bundesliga match Sunday evening and seeing his flight from Dusseldorf to Frankfurt canceled Monday morning. Keller’s flight eventually landed just before 5 p.m. ET, delaying the departure of the team’s charter by more than 90 minutes.
FINAL ROUND KICKOFF: The USA and Trinidad will be first to kickoff the final round hexagonal (2:30 ET live on ESPN2), as the four other contestants will play later Wednesday evening. Costa Rica hosts Mexico on the modern artificial surface at the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa, while Guatemala travels to the Estadio Rommel Fernandez to meet Panama in the host’s first-ever match in the final round of qualifying. For the complete final round schedule, go to the competitions page at ussoccer.com.
SIGI TO CHIME IN AS GUEST MATCHTRACKER: U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team Coach Sigi Schmid will add his analysis and insight to ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics, for the USA's clash against Trinidad. Schmid took over the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team in late October for his second term as the head coach of the U-20s (he also held the position from 1998-99). In his second tenure, Schmid has not seen a single blemish on his record, as the Under-20s have won all seven of their international matches. In January, Schmid led the U.S. to the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship, which will take place in Holland from June 10-July 2, by winning all three matches in Group A of the CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament at The Home Depot Center. It was the first time the U.S. has ever gone undefeated and finished in sole possession of first place in CONCACAF qualifying.
A LOOK AT T&T
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Trinidad & Tobago took care of business in the lightly-regarded group, winning all four matches vs. St. Vincent & Grenadines and St. Kitts & Nevis to finish second in Group 3. Trinidad struggled in both matches against group-winner Mexico, however, having been outscored 6-1.
OUTLOOK: Trinidad & Tobago is still trying to qualify for their first World Cup, and brings a bit more experience than Guatemala and Panama to the process. The Caribbean nation is led by former Columbus Crew forward Stern John, and with the return of legendary striker Dwight Yorke into the mix after a four-year hiatus, their pace and athleticism could lead T&T to challenge the top three.
TRINI TUNEUPS: T&T have committed their full resources to preparing for the Feb. 9
encounter, spending nearly two months together as a group. Trinidad has played ten matches already since December, posting a 6-3-1 record. The Soca Warriors defeated St. Vincent and the Grenadines by a 3-2 aggregate goal margin in the third round of the Digicel Cup, advancing to the final round which will determine the Caribbean entrants into the 2005 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Most recently, T&T played a string of friendlies against Haiti, defeating the visitors by scores of 1-0 and 2-1 on Feb. 1 and Feb. 3, respectively, before ending with a 1-0 loss Sunday afternoon.
SECOND STINT FOR ST. CLAIR: When he took the reigns Jan. 16, 2004, T&T head coach Bertille St. Clair embarked on his second shot at managing the Soca Warriors. In charge from May 1997 to March 2000, he collected a record of 19-16-17. St. Clair also had a stint as head coach of St. Vincent & Grenadines. Since 2004, he has compiled a record of 18-7-2, hoping to lead T&T to their first-ever World Cup finals appearance.
- The U.S. traveled with 23 players to Trinidad, with the 18-man game day roster to be finalized before kickoff. Game time temperature is expected to reach 90 degrees.
- The U.S. side is carrying no injuries into Wednesday’s match. Oguchi Onyewu is serving a one-match suspension after picking up his second caution of the tournament Nov. 17 against Jamaica. DaMarcus Beasley, Frankie Hejduk, Eddie Lewis, and Eddie Pope are the rostered players carrying a card into the first match.
- The U.S. holds a 10-1-3 lifetime record against the Soca Warriors, including an unblemished 6-0-2 mark in World Cup qualifying. The USA’s lone loss to Trinidad came Nov. 19, 1994, marking the last time the U.S. has lost to a Caribbean team in 11.5 years. Only one player on the current roster appeared in that defeat – goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann.
- Since 1994, the U.S. has played 24 games against Caribbean teams, with only one loss to tarnish their overall record of 15-8-1 during that span.
- Brian McBride is the leading capwinner in the highly-experienced side, the Fulham-based forward now holding 83 caps. With his two-goal performance against Honduras on June 2 in Foxboro, McBride surpassed Joe-Max Moore for second place on the all-time U.S. goalscoring charts. Adding a tally in the Oct. 9 qualifier against El Salvador, he now has 26 career goals, eight behind Eric Wynalda.
- At the other end of the spectrum, 27-year-old defender Jimmy Conrad is the only player on the roster yet to receive his first cap. Only six of the 23 players have five caps or less, while an equal number have 60 international appearances or more.
- Landon Donovan continued a remarkable run for the MNT, finishing 2004 as the team leader in goals and points for the second year running. With five goals and five assists, Donovan became the first player since Eric Wynalda (1996-97) to finish at the top two years in a row. The 22-year old already has 19 career goals, good for 5th place on the all-time U.S. scoring charts.
- The 2003 Chevrolet Male Athlete of the Year became the youngest player in U.S. history to reach 50 caps when he started in the USA's 3-0 win against Grenada in the first leg of second round qualifying on June 13 in Columbus.
- Kasey Keller entered the history books that day as well, the 14-year veteran earning his 38th career victory for the United States, surpassing Tony Meola for No.1 on the list. Keller also holds the record for career shutouts (36) and World Cup qualifying appearances (24).
- FC Dallas striker Ed Johnson is coming off a remarkable first year with the full team, netting five goals in three games, including a hat trick in the 6-0 win against Panama on Oct. 13. With that performance, the 20-year-old forward entered his name in several places in the record books. With goals against El Salvador, Panama and Jamaica, he became the first player in MNT history to score goals in his first three qualifying appearances. He also joined Alexander Rae as one of only two players in MNT history with goals in each of his first three caps. (Rae’s feat was accomplished in 1937 in a trio of games against Mexico.) He also became one of only two players (joining Aldo “Buff” Donelli, two career caps) with five goals in as many as three career games.
- The record for goals in consecutive game is four, a mark set by William Looby in 1955 and equaled by Brian McBride in 2001.
- DaMarcus Beasley posted his best career scoring tally in 2004, his four goals second best for the U.S. in 2004. Beasley has recorded three goals in 2006 World Cup qualifying action so far, including a pair in the USA’s 3-2 victory against Grenada on June 13 in Columbus.
- Beasley made his first-ever appearance a World Cup qualifier in the USA’s last match of 2002 tournament against Trinidad. Beasley only survived 45 minutes of the 0-0 draw on Nov. 11, 2001 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain, as a he received a concussion at the midway point of the first half and had to replaced after the break.
- The U.S. finished 2004 with an 8-1-6 record, collecting its highest-ever win percentage (.733) in a year with more than two games played. The USA’s second-best finish came in 2000 when they accumulated a .706 winning percentage.
- Additionally, the team is carrying a record-setting 13 match unbeaten run into Wednesday’s qualifier, the last defeat a 1-0 loss to Holland in Amsterdam on Feb. 18, 2004.
- And to add one more streak for good measure, the U.S. is currently enjoying a 29-match unbeaten run against CONCACAF opponents dating back to the 2-0 loss to Costa Rica on Sept. 5, 2001. In that span the team has posted a record of 22-0-7, with 66 goals scored and a miserly 10 goals surrendered.
- The U.S. is playing in their 95th World Cup qualifying match since 1934, with an all-time record of 39-28-27. The U.S. is 25-6-11 on home soil, the last loss in the U.S. coming against Honduras (2-3 L, Sept. 1, 2001). Prior to that defeat, the USA had not dropped a home qualifier since May 31, 1985, a 2-1 loss to Costa Rica in Torrance, Calif.