Perfect Storm of Hex Results Eliminates USA from 2018 World Cup Contention After 2-1 Loss in Trinidad & Tobago
COUVA, Trinidad & Tobago (Oct. 10, 2017) – With an unlikely combination of results in the final Matchday of CONCACAF Qualifying, the U.S. Men’s National Team was eliminated from contention for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
After falling 2-1 to Trinidad & Tobago, the doomsday combination of a Honduras victory against Mexico (3-2) and a Panama win over Costa Rica (2-1) dropped the U.S. from third to fifth place in the Hexagonal. Panama qualified directly with its third place finish, while Honduras will face off against Australia in the intercontinental playoff.
A pair of improbable goals from the Socca Warriors in the first half gave the hosts a 2-0 lead and put the USA in the difficult position of needing to break down an opponent that kept 10 men behind the ball in the second half.
Christian Pulisic cut the deficit in half just minutes into the second stanza when his strike from the top of the box in the 47th minute found the back of the net. The U.S. continued to push forward and created numerous quality chances, but Trinidad goalkeeper Adrian Foncette was up to the task as he pulled off impressive saves to keep the lead.
Pulisic, Omar Gonzalez, Bobby Wood, and Darlington Nagbe all saw chances
denied at the last moment by Foncette, while half-time substitute Clint
Dempsey saw one of his two great chances hit the post flush and bounce out
as time wound down.
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Goal Scoring Rundown:
TRI – Omar Gonzalez (own goal), 17th minute: A Trinidad & Tobago attack down the USA’s left flank resulted in a fluke own goal when Alvin Jones centered a ball for Shahdon Winchester that was beyond his reach but ricocheted off Omar Gonzalez’s outstretched foot, looping into the top right corner of U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard’s net for the shock lead.
USA 0, TRI 1 [WATCH]
TRI – Alvin Jones (Nathan Lewis), 36th minute:
Receiving a pass from Nathan Lewis, Jones took a touch before unleashing a
speculative drive nearly 30 yards out from goal. The shot from the right
side of the field swerved wildly away from the center of goal, finding the
left side netting. USA 0, TRI 2 [WATCH]
USA – Christian Pulisic (Darlington Nagbe), 47th minute: Nagbe won the ball just outside the Socca Warriors’ box and played a quick pass to Pulisic, whose first touch set him up to rip a shot through traffic from just outside the top of the penalty arc across the face of goal into the top left corner. USA 1, TRI 2 [WATCH] FINAL
Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
USA – Tim Howard, 44th minute: Having found his luck with one long-distance strike already, Jones sent a free kick from 40 yards out near the right sideline blistering toward the U.S. goal. The shot dipped just inside the six-yard box and took a nasty bounce off the choppy turf, nearly wrong-footing Howard, who held up just enough to get his shoulder to the ball and keep it out. His job not done, Howard tracked the rebound as it rolled to the left of the goal, knocking it away from Winchester with a well-executed sliding tackle.
USA – DeAndre Yedlin, 49th minute: A Trinidad attack up the right wing worked its way into the USA box but was snuffed out at the last minute by a sliding block from Yedlin to deny Nathan Lewis at the left post from four yards out with Howard down.
USA – DeAndre Yedlin, 58th minute: It was a great recovery by Yedlin to chase down Nathan Lewis and get in a last-minute sliding tackle to deny a point blank shot on goal after the speedy Socca Warriors’ attacker had gotten free down the U.S. left flank.
USA – Tim Howard 63rd minute: As the game opened up with the U.S. pushing forward for an equalizer, the ball was lifted into the U.S. box for a shot from the middle of the penalty area that Howard got down well to kick away.
TRI – Adrian Foncette, 69th minute: A well-executed set play by the USA saw Michael Bradley play the ball toward the top of the Soca Warriors’ box. Dempsey met the pass and sent a chipped shot toward the top left corner but Foncette just got a hand to tip it over the bar.
TRI – Adrian Foncette, 77th minute: As the U.S. carved out another attack, Foncette was finally beaten by a low effort from the top of the box by Dempsey. As it was headed for the lower left corner, a sprawling Foncette made a fingernail save down to his left to deflect the shot onto the post.
TRI – Adrian Foncette, 88th minute: With its last best chance to knot the score at 2-2, Bobby Wood evaded his marker and met Pulisic’s cross to send a downward header bouncing toward the right side of goal, but Foncette got down quick to push the point blank header around the post.
- The U.S. MNT moved to 18-3-4 all-time vs. Trinidad & Tobago, 13-2-3 in World Cup Qualifying and 4-2-2 in away qualifiers.
- Altidore and Michael Bradley appeared in 15 of the team’s 16 CONCACAF qualifiers for Russia 2018.
- The Toronto FC pair also joined left back Jorge Villafaña in making their team-leading 14th appearances of 2017.
- While he recorded five goals and four assists in qualifying matches this year, in one way or another, Christian Pulisic has been involved in 12 of the 17 goals scored by the U.S. during the Final Round of 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying.
- In order to get the gameday roster down to 23 players, defender Michael Orozco and midfielder Juan Agudelo did not dress for tonight’s match.
- U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report -
U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Date: Oct. 10, 2017
Competition: 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying – Final Round
Venue: Ato Boldon Stadium; Couva, Trinidad
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
Weather: 80 degrees; mostly clear
1 2 F
USA 0 1 1
TRI 2 0 2
TRI – Own Goal (Omar Gonzalez) 17th minute
TRI – Alvin Jones (Nathan Lewis) 37
USA – Christian Pulisic 47
USA: 1-Tim Howard, 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 3-Omar Gonzalez, 5-Matt Besler, 15-Jorge Villafaña (23-Kellyn Acosta, 72), 4-Michael Bradley (capt.), 21-Paul Arriola (8-Clint Dempsey, 46), 10-Christian Pulisic, 6-Darlington Nagbe (16-Benny Feilhaber, 84), 9-Bobby Wood, 17-Jozy Altidore
Subs not used: 12-Brad Guzan, 22-Nick Rimando, 7-DaMarcus Beasley, 11-Alejandro Bedoya, 13-Dax McCarty, 14-Tim Ream, 18-Chris Wondolowski, 19-Graham Zusi, 20-Geoff Cameron
Head coach: Bruce Arena
22-Adrian Foncette, 5-Daneil Cyrus, 7-Nathan Lewis, 8-Khaleem Hyland
(capt.), 9-Shahdon Winchester (20-Trevin Caesar, 78), 13-Curtis Gonzales,
16-Levi Garcia (3-Joevin Jones, 72), 17-Alvin Jones, 18-Triston Hodge
(4-Kevon Villaroel, 81), 19-Kevan George, 23-Leston Paul
Subs not used: 1-Glenroy Samuel, 21-Gregory Ranjitsingh, 2-Kareem Moses, 6-Josiah Trimmingham, 10-Karl Duane Muckette, 11-Neil Benjamin, 12-Kathon St. Hillaire, 14-Akeem Roach, 15-Jared London
Head coach: Dennis Lawrence
Stats Summary: USA / TRI
Shots: 15 / 11
Shots on Goal: 6 / 5
Saves: 3 / 5
Corner Kicks: 5 / 2
Fouls: 18 / 11
Offside: 3 / 3
TRI – Triston Hodge (caution) 68th minute
USA – Omar Gonzalez (caution) 90+1
TRI – Joevin Jones (caution) 90+3
USA – Matt Besler (caution) 90+5
Referee: Juan Carlos Guerra (GUA)
Assistant Referee 1: Ronaldo de la Cruz (GUA)
Assistant Referee 2: David Moran (SLV)
Fourth Official: Fernando Guerrero (MEX)
Budweiser Man of the Match: Christian PulisicRead more
Trinidad & Tobago vs. USA
2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying
Oct. 10, 2017
Ato Boldon Stadium; Couva, Trinidad
Live Broadcast: 8 p.m. ET on beIN Sports, UNIVERSO, telemundodeportes.com, FuboTV (FREE 7-Day Trial)
WCQ TV Rights Explained
Tonight’s U.S. MNT Starting XI at Trinidad & Tobago: 1-Tim Howard, 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 3-Omar Gonzalez, 4-Michael Bradley, 5-Matt Besler, 6-Darlington Nagbe, 9-Bobby Wood, 10-Christian Pulisic,15-Jorge Villafaña, 17-Jozy Altidore, 21-Paul Arriola
Substitutes: 7-DaMarcus Beasley, 8-Clint Dempsey, 11-Alejandro Bedoya, 12-Brad Guzan, 13-Dax McCarty, 14-Tim Ream, 16-Benny Feilhaber, 18-Chris Wondolowski, 19-Graham Zusi, 20-Geoff Cameron, 22-Nick Rimando, 23-Kellyn Acosta
- The USA can qualify outright for the 2018 FIFA World Cup with a win tonight against Trinidad & Tobago. A draw will also likely earn the MNT its eighth-straight trip to the World Cup as long as Panama (eight goals) and Honduras (13 goals) do not make up the huge margins in goal differential during their respective matches against Costa Rica and Mexico. All three matches kick off simultaneously at 8 p.m. ET. Full qualifying scenarios can be found here.
- U.S. MNT Starting XI Cap Numbers (including this match): Michael Bradley (140), Tim Howard (121), Jozy Altidore (110), Omar Gonzalez (48), DeAndre Yedlin (48), Matt Besler (47), Bobby Wood (36), Darlington Nagbe (24), Christian Pulisic (20), Paul Arriola (15), Jorge Villafaña (14).
- U.S. MNT Starting XI World Cup Qualifying Cap Numbers (including this match): Jozy Altidore (41), Michael Bradley (40), Tim Howard (39), Omar Gonzalez (18), Matt Besler (14), Bobby Wood (14), Christian Pulisic (13), Darlington Nagbe (11), DeAndre Yedlin (10), Paul Arriola (7), Jorge Villafaña (6).
- The Starting XI’s average cap number (including this game): 56.6 (overall), 19.3 (WCQ).
- Howard is 5-0-1 in six all-time World Cup Qualifiers vs. Trinidad & Tobago and has never conceded a goal to the Soca Warriors.
- The MNT is 12-0-1 all-time when Altidore finds the back of the net in World Cup Qualifying.
- Altidore makes his 41st World Cup Qualifying appearance, tying him with teammate and substitute Clint Dempsey for first on the MNT’s all-time list. Bradley makes his 40th qualifying appearance, tying him with Landon Donovan for third on the list.
- With their starts, Altidore and Bradley will appear in 15 of the team’s 16 CONCACAF qualifiers for Russia 2018.
- Altidore and Bradley also join left back Jorge Villafaña in making their team-leading 14th appearances of 2017.
- Altidore (10) and Wood (4) have tallied 14 goals in the 10 international matches they have started together.
- While he holds four goals and four assists in qualifying matches this year, in one way or another, Christian Pulisic has been involved in 11 of the 16 goals scored by the U.S. during the Final Round of 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying.
- Altidore (5 goals), Pulisic (2 goals), Paul Arriola and Michael Bradley (1 each) have all tallied against Trinidad & Tobago in World Cup Qualifying.
- Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez are paired in central defense for the sixth time in 2017. The MNT is 3-0-2 when they’ve partnered together this year and is 8-3-6 all-time when the two line up together as center backs.
- The U.S. has also gone unbeaten in its last six matches when Besler and Gonzalez have paired as center backs.
- Altidore memorably scored a hat trick in a 3-0 World Cup Qualifying win vs. the Soca Warriors on April 1, 2009 in Nashville. He added two more goals during the USA’s 4-0 Semifinal Round victory on Sept. 6, 2016 in Jacksonville.
- Arriola also joined Altidore on the scoresheet in the 4-0 win last September.
- Most recently, Pulisic scored both goals in the USA’s 2-0 win on June 8, 2017 in Commerce City, Colo.
- In order to get the gameday roster down to 23 players, defender Michael Orozco and midfielder Juan Agudelo will not dress for tonight’s match.
- The U.S. MNT is 18-2-4 all-time vs. Trinidad & Tobago, 13-1-3 in World Cup Qualifying and 4-1-2 in away qualifiers.
- Bruce Arena is 4-0-1 in five all-time matches vs. the Soca Warriors, all of which have come in World Cup Qualifying.
PREVIEW: MNT Can Book World Cup Place with Result in Trinidad & Tobago | 8pm ET | beIN SPORTS, UNIVERSO
When the U.S. Men’s National stepped onto the vaunted Estadio Azteca pitch during June’s World Cup Qualifying clash a little history was made. MNT and Liga MX veteran DaMarcus Beasley was slotted in at left back for the difficult tie, making his first appearance of the USA’s 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying campaign and in turn, becoming the first MNT player to appear in five different qualifying cycles.
That feat was all made possible because of his inclusion in a Final Round qualifier played at Trinidad & Tobago in November 2001. Just a month earlier, the USA had memorably defeated Jamaica 2-1 and had each of the other two results go its way to secure its place at the 2002 FIFA World Cup. That triumph, combined with Trinidad & Tobago’s early elimination allowed Bruce Arena to try a few different looks with his lineup, one of which was handing Beasley, who had been capped just twice before, his qualifying debut at the tender age of 19.
“We had already qualified and obviously the pressure was off, so being a young kid, you go out there and just play,” the 35-year-old remembered about the experience.
Lining up on the left side of midfield alongside Earnie Stewart, John O’Brien and Jovan Kirovski, Beasley was active early on, but would eventually be hampered by an elbow to the head from Soca Warriors’ attacker Nigel Pierre in the 17th minute. Beasley stayed down on the Hasely Crawford pitch for a long period of time before walking off moments later.
“My debut didn’t last too long because I got a concussion in the first half and came off at halftime."
At a time where concussion awareness wasn’t as heightened as the present day, Beasley was cleared to re-enter the game before being replaced by Cobi Jones at the break.
- ARENA: "Trinidad & Tobago will have aggressive mentality"
- READ: Five Things to Know About Trinidad & Tobago
“I kind of still remember the play,” he said, “but I don’t remember too much of the game.”
Those that didn’t have concussions would have a hard time remembering it as well. Played on a steamy afternoon in Port of Spain, both teams saw multiple shots go high and wide throughout the match, though Beasley’s Chicago Fire teammate and fellow qualifying debutant Zach Thornton did make a nice diving save on Stern John’s hit from distance in the 52nd minute.
Eventually the final whistle blew as the team’s shared a point in the 0-0 draw.
Still hanging around with the National Team 16 years later, Beasley said he looked forward to returning to Trinidad & Tobago, this time with a different setting -- the smaller Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva -- but still with plenty more on the line than his qualifying debut.
“This is what all players want, a chance to qualify for the World Cup, but to be part of the game that actually does it. People take it for granted and say that you should just qualify. People don’t understand how big qualifying for the World Cup is, how much blood, sweat and hard work goes into a qualifier. Hopefully we get a good result on Tuesday and we can celebrate a little bit when we do it. It’ll be a great end to a long qualifying campaign.”Read more
After the U.S. Men’s National Team took care of its business with a 4-0 shutout against Panama on Friday night, attention in camp was focused on San Jose, Costa Rica the following night. There, the hosts took on Central American rival Honduras in a match that had huge implications for both teams as well as the two sides who met the previous night in Orlando.
A Costa Rica side that needed only a draw to qualify for the World Cup looked sluggish at times, more than willing to absorb and keep things scoreless for 90 minutes. Needing as many points as it can get, Honduras was on the front foot most of the match and found the go-ahead goal when Eddie Hernández rose to head home Rommel Quioto’s cross in the 77th minute.
The goal pulled Costa Rica out of its shell, but most of its attacks were stifled. Just as Honduras looked like it would pull off one of the big results of the Hex, Ticos captain Kendall Waston similarly rose in a crowd to power in the equalizer in the fifth minute of stoppage time, sending the stadium into pandemonium. Not long after, the referee blew the full time whistle and Costa Rica had booked its ticket and helped out both the USA and Panama in the process.
Having watched the game with his coaching staff in the hotel restaurant, MNT head coach Bruce Arena said Sunday, “I think we’re in a pretty good position. I believe unless something completely bizarre occurs, one point secures us third place in the group.”
Though both rivals for that third and final automatic World Cup berth could equal the USA on points with wins in their final games, the MNT’s huge edge in goal differential above Panama (7 goals) and Honduras (12 goals), mean a draw in the Matchday 10 qualifier at Trinidad & Tobago almost certainly punches a ticket to Russia for Arena’s side.
Though one point is all it will take, after watching Costa Rica nearly lose playing that way – and knowing that a loss could bring the U.S. team down to fifth place -- Arena didn’t mince words when it came to the desired result Tuesday night.
“We need to get on the field Tuesday and win the game,” he said. “In the closing minutes, if we have a point wrapped up, we just need to be smart, but certainly our mentality is going to be to go to Trinidad and win.”
With the home side out of World Cup contention following September’s matches, head coach Dennis Lawrence elected to summon a younger, less-tested squad as he looks to build the national team for the future. Without much in the way of expectations, the greener group of Soca Warriors showed well in their visit to Mexico on Friday, leading 1-0 before surrendering two goals in the final two minutes and eventually succumbing 3-1.
Playing to prove a point, Arena expects the young side will be fearless at home and unlikely to care much that the U.S. holds a 13-1-3 edge in the qualifying series.
“They have no pressure on them,” he said. “They’ve been playing some new players and I think they’re going to be playing with a lot of freedom. They can be very aggressive – no one from Trinidad is going to be suspended for the first game of the World Cup, so they can have an aggressive mentality, they can have a loose spirit and they’re going to be a real difficult team to play against, so we have to be at our best.”Read more