Game Notes: Qualifying Business Not Finished for USA

CHICAGO (Sept. 5, 2016) – The U.S. Men’s National Team looks to finish the job in advancing to the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup when they host Trinidad & Tobago Tuesday at Everbank Field in Jacksonville, Fla. Kicking off at 8 p.m. ET, the match can be seen live on FS1 and UniMas. Fans can also follow the game live on Twitter at @ussoccer and @ussoccer_esp.

The MNT is coming off a dominant 6-0 victory at St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Friday in Kingstown, which puts the side on the doorstep of booking a place to CONCACAF’s final round of qualifying, a.k.a. “The Hex”.

The USA and Trinidad & Tobago played to a 0-0 draw in the second match of the semifinal round on Nov. 13, 2015 in Port of Spain.

FINISH THE JOB
While the MNT put in a strong performance in Friday’s 6-0 win at St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the team is still not mathematically qualified for the final round. There are a number of different scenarios for the MNT to advance on Tuesday night, but the preferred route is by defeating Trinidad & Tobago, which would also see the USA win Group C and mark the sixth-straight time the side has finished atop its semifinal round qualifying group (dating back to the current qualifying format which began during the 1998 cycle). A victory against Trinidad & Tobago is the only way for the MNT to win Group C.

The other scenarios for U.S. advancement to “The Hex”:

FIFA WORLD CUP QUALIFYING CONCACAF GROUP C STANDINGS

Team

GP

W

L

T

GF

GA

GD

Pts.

Trinidad & Tobago-x

5

3

0

2

13

5

+8

11

USA

5

3

1

1

16

3

+13

10

Guatemala

5

2

2

1

9

8

+1

7

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

5

0

5

0

3

25

-22

0


x- Advanced to the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup

WHY FINISH FIRST?
Under the current qualifying format which began during the 1998 World Cup cycle, the U.S. has never failed to finish top of its semifinal round group. Beyond that, finishing first or second in the group will dictate the team’s schedule for the final round of qualifying which begins in November and runs all the way through October 2017. The schedule matrix for the final round was determined via random draw on July 8 in Miami and can be seen below. The standing placements have been changed to reflect the teams that are still vying for places in their specific groups:  

Possible USA Hex Schedule

Date

USA as C1

USA as C2

Nov. 11, 2016

vs. (A1) Mexico

vs. (B1) Costa Rica/Panama

Nov. 15, 2016

at (B1) Costa Rica/Panama

at (A2) Honduras/Canada

March 24, 2017

vs. (A2) Honduras/Canada

vs. (B2) Panama/Costa Rica

March 28, 2017

at (B2) Panama/Costa Rica

vs. (A1) Mexico

June 9, 2017

vs. (C2) Trinidad & Tobago

at (C1) Trinidad & Tobago

June 13, 2017

at (A2) Mexico

at (B2) Costa Rica/Panama

Sept. 1, 2017

vs. (B1) Costa Rica/Panama

vs. (A2) Honduras/Canada

Sept. 5, 2017

at (A2) Honduras/Canada

at (B2) Panama/Costa Rica

Oct. 6, 2017

vs. (B2) Panama/Costa Rica

at (A1) Mexico

Oct. 10, 2017

at (C2) Trinidad & Tobago

vs. (C1) Trinidad & Tobago

If the MNT finishes in first place in the group, they enter the final round as C1. And wouldn’t you know which team C1 hosts in the opening game? Think #DosaCero. That’s right – the United States would host Mexico on Nov. 11 at a stadium to be … ahem … determined. Just as intriguing, with Costa Rica in pole position in Group B, the second match for Team 1 would most likely be away to Los Ticos four days later. As it turns out, it doesn’t snow in Costa Rica in November (or any time, for that matter).

Should the U.S. finish in second place, they become C2 and would still be at home. And here comes that Costa Rica game again! The other intriguing part of the C2 schedule is back-to-back home games for Matchdays 3-4, and back-to-back away games for Matchdays 5-6 and 8-9.

So you see, where you finish in the semifinal round matters a great deal on the roadmap to Russia. But to be there, you’ve got to get there, making these next two matches absolutely critical. While it may have seemed September was a sleepy time, the MNT needs your support now more than ever.

MNT ROSTER CHANGES FOR T&T
Following Friday’s win at St. Vincent, two players departed MNT camp while two others have joined. Having picked up his second yellow card of the semifinal round on Friday, defender DeAndre Yedlin will serve his one-match suspension on Tuesday vs. Trinidad & Tobago, while Matt Besler has been allowed to return to Kansas City after the birth of his daughter on Friday morning. As planned, midfielder Michael Bradley and defender Michael Orozco – who were both suspended for Friday’s contest – will join the team in Jacksonville for Tuesday’s match against Trinidad & Tobago.

HOME SUPPORT IN JACKSONVILLE
EverBank Field and the fans in Jacksonville have proved excellent hosts for the MNT, and the team has clearly responded. With great crowd support and a superb playing surface, the U.S. has posted two wins while scoring seven goals and only surrendering a pair. In 2012, a Landon Donovan hat trick and strikes from Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones paced the U.S. to a 5-1 win against Scotland. In the final sendoff before the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Altidore bagged a pair as the MNT ran out 2-1 winners against Nigeria. Overall, the USA holds an unblemished 4-0-0 in JAX dating back to 1997.

CONSISTENCY FROM COPA AMERICA
After taking fourth place in Copa America Centenario this past June – tying the USA’s best finish in the tournament - Klinsmann has kept most of the group together, recalling 21 of the 23 players from the roster before losing Brooks, Jones and Zardes to injury.

“We definitely think that the group that got fourth in the Copa America deserves a certain priority going on to the next World Cup qualifiers because they did tremendously well in the Copa America,” Klinsmann said. “It was an exciting tournament with great games. The whole group learned a lot, playing teams like Colombia, Ecuador and Argentina. This is a big stage, and they deserve to come back and confirm what they did in the tournament in these upcoming, very important World Cup qualifiers. We are preparing for these two games very seriously, with a lot of urgency because we want to finish off our group in first place if possible, and this group of players gets the chance to do that.”

STRONG STRIKE FORCE
Despite the absence of Clint Dempsey due to health concerns and Gyasi Zardes due to injury, the U.S. attacking corps is in fine form. After both scoring a goal in Friday’s win against St. Vincent, Jozy Altidore and Bobby Wood now have a combined eight goals in the four matches they’ve started up front for the MNT. Prior to camp beginning, Altidore had racked up five goals in his last seven matches, while Wood began his Bundesliga career at Hamburg by scoring the team’s opening goal of the campaign. San Jose captain Chris Wondolowski has recorded nine goals in 21 matches, while Jordan Morris is tied at the top of Seattle Sounders FC strikers with eight goals.

GOALKEEPING CHANGES
As he has in the previous two camps around semifinal World Cup Qualifying matches this cycle, Jurgen Klinsmann announced that he would split the goalkeeping duties for the two matches between Brad Guzan and Tim Howard. Guzan was active off his line and made one key save in the MNT’s win at St. Vincent on Friday, while Tim Howard will start Tuesday’s match vs. Trinidad & Tobago. Howard has gone 3-0-1 in four all-time matches vs. Trinidad & Tobago and has never conceded a goal to the Soca Warriors.

COACHING WINS
With Friday’s win at St. Vincent, Jurgen Klinsmann earned his 14th overall win in World Cup Qualifying, moving past Bob Bradley into second all-time in MNT history behind Bruce Arena (20). Klinsmann is 28-11-6 and holds a .688 winning percentage in competitive matches, the highest of any MNT head coach all-time. Friday’s win at St. Vincent also marked the MNT’s 10th victory of 2016, making Klinsmann just the second MNT coach after Arena to record double-digit wins in three years as national team manager.

MNT WORLD CUP QUALIFYING ROSTER: In naming the roster, MNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann leaned heavily on the players that represented the U.S. at this summer’s Copa America Centenario, with 18 of 23 players forming the basis of the team that helped the USA to a fourth-place finish at the historic tournament. Tim Howard leads the roster with 31 World Cup Qualifying caps, while five other players have played in 13 or more qualifying matches for the United States.

U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION (Club; WCQ Caps/Goals):
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Middlesbrough;11/0), Ethan Horvath (Molde FC; 0/0), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids; 31/0)

DEFENDERS (6): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas; 1/0), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United; 1/0), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City; 18/2), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca; 9/0), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Monchengladbach; 12/1), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana; 5/1)

MIDFIELDERS (9): Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana; 0/0), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake; 8/0), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union; 5/0), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC; 28/5), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls; 16/1), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers; 3/0), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund; 2/2), Caleb Stanko (FC Vaduz; 0/0), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City; 14/3)

FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC; 30/14), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 2/0), Rubio Rubin (FC Utrecht; 0/0), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes; 0/0), Bobby Wood (Hamburg SV; 5/2)

MNT IN 2018 FIFA WORLD CUP QUALIFYING

USA ROSTER NOTES:

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO NOTES

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO ROSTER BY POSITION:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Adrian Foncette (Police F.C.), Marvin Phillip (Morvant Caledonia United), Greg Ranjitsingh (Louisville City, USA)

DEFENDERS (7): Radanfah Abu Bakr (Sillamae Kalev, EST), Daneil Cyrus (W Connection), Aubrey David (FC Dallas), Joevin Jones (Seattle Sounders FC, USA), Yohance Marshall (Morcielagos, MEX), Carlyle Mitchell (Seoul E-Land, KOR), Mekeil Williams (Colorado Rapids, USA)

MIDFIELDERS (9): John Bostock (Lens, FRA), Andre Boucaud (Dagenham & Redbridge, ENG), Cordell Cato (San Jose Earthquakes, USA), Kevan George (Jacksonville Armada FC, USA), Neveal Hackshaw (Charleston Battery), Hughtun Hector (W Connection), Khaleem Hyland (Westerlo, BEL), Kevin Molino (Orlando City, USA), Jomal Williams (Murcielagos, MEX)

FORWARDS (4): Trevin Caesar (Orange County Blues, USA), Levi Garcia (AZ Alkmaar, NED), Kenwyne Jones (Central F.C.), Shahdon Winchester (Murcielagos, MEX)

USA-TRINIDAD & TOBAGO CONNECTIONS:

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO UPDATE:
With their 2-2 home draw against Guatemala on Friday, Trinidad & Tobago locked down a place in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, returning to the Hex after missing out during qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Should they defeat or draw the United States on Tuesday, T&T would clinch top spot in Group C.