Twenty-one-year-old MNT forward Paul Arriola wasn’t sure if he would get into Tuesday night’s World Cup qualifier against Trinidad & Tobago. Taking part in just his second senior team camp, part of him was just happy to be included in the team’s final set of Semifinal Round matches.
Still, as one of the bright prospects of the MNT setup, Arriola had shown well in his debut for the USA, setting up a goal from Bobby Wood before hitting the back of the net himself to cap the scoring in a 3-1 friendly win on May 22 in Puerto Rico.
That game was part of the warmup for the 2016 Copa America Centenario, and marked the first time Arriola had been called in since the change to the new U.S. Soccer crest. With the team having worn their white kits against Puerto Rico, there was a necessity to take headshots of a number of players – including Arriola - wearing the black kit. One by one, players came in to have their picture taken by team photographer John Dorton, which also included a few scripted poses. As he has before with Timmy Chandler, Dorton prompted Arriola in particular to imagine the moment when he put the ball in the back of the net.
“Do it like you will when you score in the game tomorrow,” he said.
Arriola jumped up in the air with one arm and pumped his fist in the air, and that was that for the photo session.
Fast forward to the 66th minute on Tuesday night. The U.S. was already leading 3-0 when MNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann inserts Arriola for Alejandro Bedoya. Just five minutes in to his World Cup Qualifying debut, the 21-year-old attacker scored his second goal in as many matches for the MNT, pouncing on the end of a beautiful buildup that saw Christian Pulisic’s shot saved before he slammed it past T&T goalkeeper Marvin Phillip.
“I didn’t have time to do my completely normal celebration,” said Arriola. “Usually I run to the sideline, jump up in the air and do a fist pump. Instead I saw Christian [Pulisic] right there and jumped right on him. After that I put both my hands up in the air, celebrated and then came the single fist pump.”
Beyond matching his celebration from the night before, the goal put Arriola in some rare company as he became just the ninth MNT player all-time to score in each of his first two appearances. The Club Tijuana attacker is the first to do it since Eddie Johnson achieved the feat in the fall of 2004.
“I had no idea,” Arriola told ussoccer.com by phone on Thursday. “That’s definitely awesome, but when I do it, it’s not like I’m thinking I’m here to make history. I’m just trying to help the team. I feel confident in myself, in the system and players and coaches we have with the National Team. As a kid you always dream of being on the full national team. It was barely over a year ago that I was at the U-20 World Cup and had Landon [Donovan] there helping us out. We all still felt like we were so far away from the National Team, thinking our time would come soon and we couldn’t realize it. For me, here it is.”
Goals in First Two MNT Caps
First Cap, First Goal
Second Cap, Second Goal
3-2 W at Sweden (Aug. 20, 1916)
1-1 D at Norway (Sept. 3, 1916)
2-11 L vs. Argentina (May 30, 1928)+
3-3 D at Poland (June 10, 1928)
3-0 W vs. Belgium (July 13, 1930)**
3-0 W vs. Paraguay (July 17, 1930)**
4-2 W vs. Mexico (May 24, 1934)*
1-7 L at Italy (May 27, 1934)**
2-7 L at Mexico (Sept. 12, 1937)
3-7 L at Mexico (Sept. 19, 1937)
2-7 L at Mexico (Sept. 12, 1937)
3-7 L at Mexico (Sept. 19, 1937)
2-2 D vs. Mexico (March 12, 1991)
2-0 W vs. Canada (March 16, 1991)
2-0 W at El Salvador (Oct. 9, 2004)*
6-0 W vs. Panama (Oct. 13, 2004)*
3-1 W at Puerto Rico (May 22, 2016)
4-0 W vs. Trinidad & Tobago (Sept. 6, 2016)*
+ Denotes Olympic matches, * Denotes World Cup Qualifying matches, ** Denotes World Cup matches
Only two players in MNT history have extended their streak further. In 1937, Alexander Rae scored in each of his first three appearances. Johnson holds the all-time record, having recorded goals in his first four games for the National Team.
Arriola isn’t thinking about any of that, however. Should he get called back in, Arriola said he and some of the team’s other young players are hoping to use the October friendlies as another audition for playing time in the final round of World Cup Qualifying which begins with a home match on Nov. 11 against Mexico and away four days later to Costa Rica.“We have to continue to push, whether that means we’re taking veteran spots or helping them become better players,” he said. “That’s a role that all of us young players have to take into account, and for me I think it’s a good time to be a part of the National Team. We’re in a transitional phase going into the Hex now where the games are really important. Any minutes we can get on the field or even a call up that makes us part of the environment helps us grow and is important for our development.” Read more
The U.S. Men’s National stood atop of its group in the semifinal round of World Cup Qualifying for the sixth-consecutive time following the 4-0 dismantling of Trinidad & Tobago on Tuesday, advancing the the final round, also knows as “The Hex”.
Here’s a look at some of the key facts and figures around the MNT’s successful journey through the Semifinal Round:
32 – The number of World Cup Qualifying appearances for Tim Howard, the most all-time among U.S. goalkeepers and fourth all-time in MNT history. Landon Donovan holds the overall record with 40.
30 – The number of players utilized during the MNT’s six semifinal round matches.
30 – The current number of home World Cup Qualifying matches the U.S. has gone unbeaten. The team is 28-0-2 in a streak that began with a 2-1 win against Jamaica on Oct. 7, 200, in Foxborough, Mass. On that day, the United States officially qualified for the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
20 – The number of goals scored during the semifinal round, and the most since CONCACAF adopted the current World Cup Qualifying format for the 1998 cycle.
17 years, 349 days – Christian Pulisic’s age when he became the youngest player in MNT history to score in a World Cup Qualifier, tallying twice in the MNT’s 6-0 win at St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Four days later, he became the youngest player to start a qualifying match for the MNT in the 4-0 win vs. Trinidad & Tobago.
16 – The new all-time U.S. World Cup Qualifying goal scoring record, set by Jozy Altidore following the two he scored against Trinidad & Tobago on Tuesday.
15 – The number of World Cup Qualifying wins Jurgen Klinsmann has recorded as U.S. head coach. He sits second all-time behind Bruce Arena (20).
13 – Number of MNT players that received their World Cup Qualifying debuts: Kellyn Acosta, Paul Arriola, Steve Birnbaum, Ethan Finlay, Matt Miazga, Jordan Morris, Darlington Nagbe, Christian Pulisic, Tim Ream, Caleb Stanko, Bobby Wood, DeAndre Yedlin, Gyasi Zardes.
11 – Number of players that tallied goals.
10 – The number of players that provided assists. Fabian Johnson, Sacha Kljestan, Christian Pulisic and Gyasi Zardes each recorded two.
6 – Number of goals Jozy Altidore scored during the semifinal round, breaking the previous record of five held by Eddie Johnson (2004) and Clint Dempsey (2012).
4 – Number of clean sheets earned across six matches, two each for Brad Guzan and Tim Howard.
1 – Number of players who started all six matches. Geoff Cameron collected that honor, playing a total of 514 minutes.Read more
USA Finishes First in Semifinal Round of 2018 World Cup Qualifying Group C with 4-0 Win vs. Trinidad & Tobago
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Sept. 6, 2016) – The U.S. Men’s National Team used a brace from Jozy Altidore and goals from Sacha Kljestan and Paul Arriola to earn a hard-fought 4-0 victory against Trinidad & Tobago Tuesday night. The win propelled the MNT to the top spot in Group C of Semifinal Round CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying, as well as a berth in the Final Round beginning in November.
A dominant first half from the U.S. saw Christian Pulisic force a diving stop out of Trinidad & Tobago goalkeeper Marvin Phillip in the ninth minute, before the 17-year-old attacker incredibly careened a shot off both posts in the 31st. The first stanza also saw a clear penalty shout for a foul on Geoff Cameron inside the area, but referee Ricardo Montero Araya awarded a free kick just outside the box.
Just as it looked like the MNT would go into the break empty-handed, a nice bit of combination work between Fabian Johnson, Kljestan and Pulisic led to a failed T&T clearance before Kljestan buried inside the right post in the 44th minute.
With that goal in the bank, the floodgates opened for the MNT in the second half. Altidore would tally two goals in the 59th and 62nd minutes, with the first moving him past Clint Dempsey to become the MNT’s all-time leading scorer in World Cup Qualifying. His second of the match padded his lead at the top, giving him 16 Qualifying goals.
Just moments after entering the match, second half substitute Paul Arriola increased the lead, burying a close-range rebound off of a Pulisic effort in the 71st minute.
On the defensive side of the field, the U.S. back line kept its eighth clean sheet of the year, while Tim Howard made five saves to earn his 37th career shutout.
The win sees the U.S. finish with a 4-1-1 record and top spot in Group C of the Semifinal Round of CONCACAF Qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, setting up a home clash with Mexico to open the final round of World Cup Qualifying. The site of the Nov. 11 match vs. El Tri will be announced early next week.
Next on the Schedule: The U.S. MNT gets set for CONCACAF’s Final Round of Qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup with an historic visit to take on Cuba in Havana on Friday, Oct. 7 on ESPN and Univision Networks (Time TBD). The MNT then returns home to the familiar confines of RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. where they’ll face Oceanic Football Confederation champions, New Zealand on Tuesday, Oct. 11 at 8 p.m. ET (ESPN and Univision Networks).
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Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Sacha Kljestan (unassisted), 44th minute: Fabian Johnson began on the left, playing for Sacha Kljestan in the penalty area before returning a back heel to the left back in stride. Johnson then played for Christian Pulisic whose centering pass was heeled away by Radanfah Abu Bakr before Carlyle Mitchell took another swing. His clearance was blocked by Kljestan who quickly poked the ball in the lower, right corner. USA 1, TRI 0 [WATCH]
USA – Jozy Altidore (Fabian Johnson) 59th minute: Fabian Johnson broke free down the left before feeding Altidore into the area. The MNT forward took a touch past his marker before firing a low shot inside the right post to double the advantage and make Altidore the MNT’s all-time leading scorer in World Cup Qualifying. USA 2, TRI 0 [WATCH]
USA – Jozy Altidore (Christian Pulisic) 62nd minute: Altidore would score his 16th all-time World Cup Qualifying goal just three minutes later. A quick combination between Pulisic and Kljestan on the left saw Pulisic cross for Altidore at the right post, allowing the veteran striker an easy tap-in. USA 3, TRI 0 [WATCH]
USA – Paul Arriola (unassisted) 71st minute: Pulisic intercepted a T&T pass in his own half and rushed upfield to the edge of the Trinidad box before laying the ball off to Jordan Morris who turned away from pressure and played the ball back to the center of the pitch for Sacha Kljestan to send it on to the feet of Jozy Altidore, who sent an incisive cross through the box for a sliding Pulisic to get a redirected shot on goal that was saved by Soca Warriors ‘keeper Marvin Phillip. The rebound fell to the onrushing Arriola who hit a one-time shot into the vacated net for his first World Cup Qualifying goal. USA 4, TRI 0 FINAL
Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
USA – Tim Howard, 7th minute: Trinidad & Tobago found the opportunity to spring a fast counter attack as Kenwyne Jones found Joevin Jones in stride up the right. The Seattle Sounders FC winger sprung forward before cutting inside and firing a well-hit blast directly at Howard.
TRI – Marvin Phillip, 9th minute: A quick transition in midfield saw Sacha Kljestan turn towards goal before laying off for Christian Pulisic on the left. The 17-year-old attacker cut inside and rifled a low, right-footed blast that deflected off a Trinidad defender before seeing goalkeeper Marvin Phillip make a diving save to push the ball out for a corner kick.
TRI – Marvin Phillip, 67th minute, 68th minute: Just moments after entering the match, Paul Arriola received a feed from Altidore on the right, cut inside and blasted an effort that saw Phillip push the ball over the post for a corner kick. Michael Bradley’s ensuing take found Kljestan open outside the box, where the MNT midfielder blasted a long-range effort that Phillip parried away in the 68th minute.
TRI – Tim Howard, 75th minute: With Trinidad continuing to look for a goal, Joevin Jones took some space about 30 yards from goal and unleashed an effort that Tim Howard pushed out to his right for a corner kick.
- At 17 years, 353 days, Christian Pulisic is the youngest player in MNT history to start a FIFA World Cup qualifier, beating Landon Donovan’s previous mark of 18 years, 343 days set on Sept. 1, 2001 vs. Honduras.
- Jozy Altidore’s 59th minute goal moved him past Clint Dempsey into first place on the MNT’s all-time World Cup Qualifying goals list with 15. His 62nd minute strike padded his lead over Dempsey, giving him 16.
- Tim Howard earned his 32nd World Cup Qualifying appearance, moving past Kasey Keller for the most all-time among MNT goalkeepers and into fourth in team history. Howard is 22-7-3 all-time in World Cup Qualifying.
- Captain Michael Bradley became the 12th player in MNT history to reach 30 World Cup Qualifying caps.
- The victory sees the U.S. top its Semifinal Round World Cup Qualifying group for the sixth-straight time.
- Sacha Kljestan’s 44th minute goal was his second in as many matches and sixth career strike for the MNT.
- Paul Arriola’s 71st minute goal was his second in as many matches for the U.S. Arriola also tallied in the MNT’s 3-1 win against Puerto Rico on May 21.
- Geoff Cameron is the only U.S. player to start all six semifinal round World Cup Qualifying matches.
- Arriola and Caleb Stanko each made their World Cup Qualifying debuts.
- Starting Tim Howard in goal, Jurgen Klinsmann elected to go with a backline featuring Geoff Cameron and right back, Steve Birnbaum and Omar Gonzalez in the middle and Fabian Johnson on the left.
- In handing Christian Pulisic his first MNT start, Klinsmann deployed the 17-year-old on the left side, with Alejandro Bedoya as his counterpart on the right and Michael Bradley and Sacha Kljestan paired in the middle.
- Jozy Altidore and Bobby Wood completed the starting XI up top, pairing for the second straight game and fifth time overall.
- U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report -
Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Date: September 6, 2016
Competition: 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying; Semifinal Round
Venue: EverBank Field; Jacksonville, Florida
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
Weather: 86 degrees, Sunny
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 3 4
TRI 0 0 0
USA – Sacha Kljestan 44th minute
USA – Jozy Altidore (Fabian Johnson) 59
USA – Jozy Altidore (Christian Pulisic) 62
USA – Paul Arriola 71
USA: 12-Tim Howard; 20-Geoff Cameron, 21-Steve Birnbaum, 3-Omar Gonzalez, 23-Fabian Johnson; 11-Alejandro Bedoya (14-Paul Arriola, 66), 4-Michael Bradley (capt.), 16-Sacha Kljestan (13-Caleb Stanko, 72), 10-Christian Pulisic; 7-Bobby Wood (8-Jordan Morris, 60), 17-Jozy Altidore
Subs not used: 1-Brad Guzan, 22-Ethan Horvath, 2-Kellyn Acosta, 5-Michael Orozco, 6-Darlington Nagbe, 9-Rubio Rubin, 15-Kyle Beckerman, 18-Chris Wondolowski, 19-Graham Zusi
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann
TRI : 1-Marvin Phillip; 2-Aubrey David, 12-Carlyle Mitchell, 6-Radanfah Abu Bakr, 17-Mekeil Williams; 3-Joevin Jones, 8-Khaleem Hyland, ,10-Kevin Molino, 14-Andre Boucaud (19-Kevan George, 76), 16-Levi Garcia (23-Jomal Williams, 57); 9-Kenwyne Jones (capt.) (11-Shahdon Winchester, 69)
Subs not used: 21-Adrian Foncette, 22-Greg Ranjitsingh, 5-Daneil Cyrus, 7-Hughtun Hector, 13-Cordell Cato, 15-Neveal Hackshaw, 18-Yohance Marshall, 20-Trevin Caesar
Head Coach: Stephen Hart
Stats Summary: USA / TRI
Shots: 17 / 14
Shots on Goal: 10 / 5
Saves: 5 / 6
Corner Kicks: 3 / 2
Fouls: 8 / 11
Offside: 4 / 1
TRI – Mekeil Williams (caution) 25th minute
TRI – Carlyle Mitchell (caution) 52
TRI – Jomal Williams (caution) 62
Referee: Ricardo Montero Araya (CRC)
Assistant Referee 1: Octavio Jara Carballo (CRC)
Assistant Referee 2: Juan Carlos Mora Araya (CRC)
4th Official: Walter Quesada Cordero (CRC)
USA vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Sept. 6, 2016
Semifinal Round - 2018 World Cup Qualifying
Live Broadcast: FS1, UniMas
Starting XI: Tim Howard; Geoff Cameron, Steve Birnbaum, Omar Gonzalez, Fabian Johnson; Alejandro Bedoya, Michael Bradley, Sacha Kljestan, Christian Pulisic; Bobby Wood, Jozy Altidore
- In part due to the suspension of DeAndre Yedlin and Matt Besler departing camp to meet his new-born daughter, Jurgen Klinsmann has made six changes from the side that faced St. Vincent on Friday. Tim Howard starts in goal, while Steve Birnbaum and Omar Gonzalez are inserted into central defense. In midfield, captain Michael Bradley returns to the lineup and will partner with Sacha Kljestan in the middle, while Christian Pulisic starts on the left wing.
- Tim Howard earns his 32nd World Cup Qualifying appearance, moving past Kasey Keller for the most all-time among MNT goalkeepers and into fourth in team history.
- Howard is 21-7-3 all-time in World Cup Qualifying.
- Captain Michael Bradley becomes the 12th player in MNT history to reach 30 World Cup Qualifying caps. Bradley scored his third international goal vs. Trinidad & Tobago in World Cup Qualifying back on Sept. 10, 2008.
- After tallying two goals and an assist vs. St. Vincent, Christian Pulisic earns his first start for the MNT in his eighth overall cap. At 17 years, 353 days, he is the youngest player in MNT history to start a FIFA World Cup qualifier, beating Jozy Altidore’s previous mark of 18 years, 343 days set on Oct. 15, 2008 vs. Trinidad & Tobago.
- With a goal and two assists off the bench in Friday’s match vs. St. Vincent, Sacha Kljestan earns his first World Cup Qualifying start since the MNT’s 3-2 victory at Panama on Oct. 15, 2013.
- Geoff Cameron is the only U.S. player to start all six semifinal round World Cup Qualifying matches. To this point, he has played every minute of the previous five qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
- With his 43rd minute penalty kick against St. Vincent, Jozy Altidore moved into a tie with Clint Dempsey for first on the MNT’s World Cup Qualifying goals list with 14. Three of those came in a 3-0 victory against Trinidad & Tobago on April 1, 2009, a game which also marked Altidore’s first World Cup Qualifying start for the MNT.
- Altidore and Bobby Wood have combined for eight goals in their four previous starts together.
- Omar Gonzalez and Steve Birnbaum start together at center back for the USA for the first time.
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