- U.S.Sits in First Place with 16 Points with Two Matches Remaining in Qualifying; Clinches Top Four Position in the Table
- Clark Scores First Qualifying Goal; Donovan Registers Eighth Assist in Final Round
- Two Qualifiers Remain as U.S. Travels to Honduras on Oct. 10, Hosts Costa Rica on Oct. 14 in Washington, D.C.
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (Sept. 9, 2009) — Ricardo Clark’s first career FIFA World Cup qualifying goal in the 62nd minute against Trinidad & Tobago put the U.S. three points closer to qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup with a 1-0 victory in Port of Spain.
After eight games, the U.S. sits in first place of the six-team group with 16 points on the strength of a 5-2-1 record. The U.S. has clinched a top four position, which guarantees at least a playoff with the fifth-place team from South America for a berth in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
In other CONCACAF action on Wednesday night the home teams posted 1-0 victories, with Mexico besting Honduras and El Salvador remaining undefeated at home against Costa Rica. With four consecutive victories, Mexico is now in second place with 15 points. Honduras falls to third with 13 points and Costa Rica has 12 points and is in fourth. El Salvador, with eight points, is still hanging on with a chance of finishing as high as third-place, and Trinidad & Tobago has been eliminated.
There are scenarios in which the U.S. could advance without earning any points over the final two games, however the U.S. controls its own destiny and can clinch a top three position and an automatic berth by earning at least two points from their last two matches. To clinch the position on MatchDay 9 against Honduras, the U.S. would have to equal or exceed the number of points that Costa Rica earns hosting Trinidad & Tobago.
The first chance to clinch a berth will come on Oct 10 when the U.S. travels to San Pedro Sula, Honduras, before returning home to close out the final round on Oct. 14 against Costa Rica in Washington, D.C. Tickets for the match at RFK Stadium go on sale to the general public on Thursday, Sept. 10, 12 p.m. ET.
The win against Trinidad & Tobago was just the third for a road team in the CONCACAF final round of qualifying as the U.S. joins Costa Rica (at Trinidad & Tobago) and Mexico (at Costa Rica) as victors away from home. All told, the home team has posted an 18-3-3 record this year.
The U.S. has scored 14 goals in the final round through eight games, and Landon Donovan has scored two while assisting on another eight including Clark’s game-winner. Donovan also tied Cobi Jones with the U.S. record for the most assists in a year (9).
Also, for the first time since the last two matches of 2005, the U.S. has gone consecutive games avoiding the referee’s book, meaning that the six players who played carrying a yellow card – Jozy Altidore, Carlos Bocanegra, Clark, Clint Dempsey, Donovan and Benny Feilhaber – will be available on Oct. 10 in Honduras.
"For us it was a very important three points,“ said U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bob Bradley. “We felt that it was well earned because tonight was a difficult game. A lot of credit goes to Trinidad & Tobago. I felt they put a great effort out tonight and made it very hard. We spoke at halftime and we understood the game we were in. We felt we could raise the level in the second half and we're pleased with the win.”
The U.S. starting lineup had just two changes from Saturday’s 2-1 victory against El Salvador, with Clark replacing Feilhaber in central midfield and Oguchi Onyewu returning from suspension to replace Chad Marshall and start in the middle of the defense with Bocanegra.
The first chance of a sloppy first half came for the U.S., as Dempsey blasted a free kick wide in the fifth minute, and 15 minutes later Charlie Davies hit a low shot on goal from 20 yards out that was easily stopped by Trinidad & Tobago goalkeeper Clayton Ince.
Trinidad & Tobago adjusted personnel slightly, moving Carlos Edwards to the right wing and it nearly paid immediate dividends. In the 27th minute, Edwards dropped a short pass to Cornell Glen on the right side, and he played a cross to the far post where Kenwyne Jones faded away from Onyewu to head the ball down to the feet of Tim Howard.
Two minutes later, Glen injected himself again as a throw-in on the left wing bounced over Bocanegra, and Glen turned on his marker and chipped Howard, only to have his effort hit the crossbar. Off Trinidad & Tobago’s heart-stopping chance, the U.S. countered with Jonathan Bornstein playing the ball up the left for Donovan. Altidore received the ball from Donovan, and after holding off a defender cracked a 22-yard shot that Ince parried out to his right.
A pair of Trent Noel free kicks from just outside the area were the final two Soca Warrior shots of the half, and each was dangerous after questionable fouls called on Onyewu. In the 37th minute, Howard was called to dive to his right post to push away a shot that almost found the bottom corner, and five minutes later Noel’s effort called on Howard to dive the same way but the ball sailed wide of the post.
In stoppage time of the first half, Donovan and Altidore combined with a slow-developing one-two combination, with Altidore patiently awaiting Donovan to cut into the left side of the area. He played a perfect ball into the space and Donovan’s left-footed shot cut back into Ince’s right leg as the kick save went out of bounds.
The U.S. created its first chance of the second half in the 52nd minute, pushing for a counter-attack after a Trinidad & Tobago corner kick. Edwards’ service was headed down dangerously in the area, but Bornstein cleared and the U.S. found Altidore wide open up on the left wing. After pushing forward, he tried to find Davies, but the ball bounced off Davies for a goal kick.
Just as Bradley was prepared to go to his bench, the U.S. finally broke through with the goal. Bornstein challenged for a 50-50 throw-in and the ball landed at the feet of Bradley, who took a good first touch and played the ball into space for Dempsey in the middle. Dempsey found Donovan on the left just outside the 18-yard box and as Dempsey and others ran through, he found Clark trailing the play. Clark blasted a 26-yard shot that tailed away from Ince and into the net. Clark became the 15th U.S. player to score a goal this cycle, and the eighth to notch a game-winning goal. He was also the 18th different player to score in 2009, matching the record number of different goal scorers set by the U.S. team in 1993 and 2000.
The U.S. twice had clear chances to increase the margin of victory to two goals for the first time in Trinidad & Tobago, with a Dempsey shot saved by a diving Ince in the 78th minute and in the 89th minute, Donovan redirected a bouncing cross from substitute Stuart Holden just inches over Ince and the crossbar. Holden, who has appeared off the bench in the last three U.S. qualifiers, came on in place of Dempsey in the 82nd minute.
Howard was on task three times down the stretch, first punching away a long-range line-drive off the foot of Edwards in the 64th minute and later scooping up another soft header from Jones. Then, in second-half stoppage time, an Edwards cross deflected off Bornstein’s foot and Howard dove to keep the ball off his left post. Howard earned his sixth shutout in 11 qualifying appearances and his goals against average dropped to 0.73. He also earned career win number 28 to pass Brad Friedel for third place on the all-time list.
The game was the ninth USA-Trinidad & Tobago match played in Port of Spain, and the ninth decided by one goal or less as the U.S. improves to 5-2-2 on the island of Trinidad.
- United States Men's National Team Match Report -
Match: United States vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Date: September 9, 2009
Competition: FIFA World Cup Qualifier – Final Round
Venue: Hasely Crawford Stadium – Port of Spain, Trinidad
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 82 degrees
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 1 1
TRI 0 0 0
USA - Ricardo Clark (Landon Donovan) 62nd minute
USA: 1-Tim Howard; 2-Jonathan Spector, 5-Oguchi Onyewu, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (capt.), 12-Jonathan Bornstein; 8-Clint Dempsey (7-Stuart Holden, 82), 13-Ricardo Clark, 4-Michael Bradley, 10-Landon Donovan; 9-Charlie Davies (11-Brian Ching, 77), 17-Jozy Altidore (16-Benny Feilhaber, 63)
Subs not used: 6-Steve Cherundolo, 14-Jose Francisco Torres , 15-Chad Marshall, 18-Brad Guzan
Head Coach: Bob Bradley
TRI: 1-Clayton Ince; 11-Carlos Edwards, 3-Radanfa Abu Bakr, 6-Dennis Lawrence (capt.), 4-Jlloyd Samuel; 10-Hayden Tinto (12-Keon Daniel, 66), 2-Clyde Leon, 8-Trent Noel (9-Jason Scotland, 84), 16-Silvio Spann (14-Kerry Baptiste, 72); 13-Cornell Glen, 17-Kenwyne Jones
Subs not used: 5-Keyeno Thomas, 7-Densil Theobald, 15-Lyndon Andrews, 18-Marvin Philip
Head Coach: Russell Latapy
Stats Summary: USA / TRI
Shots: 11 / 10
Shots on Goal: 6 / 4
Saves: 4 / 5
Corner Kicks: 6 / 5
Fouls: 14 / 14
Offside: 3 / 5
TRI – Jlloyd Samuel (caution) 25th minute
Referee: Joel Aguilar (SLV)
Assistant Referee 1: William Torres (SLV)
Assistant Referee 2: Juan Zumba (SLV)
Fourth Official: Elmer Bonilla (SLV)
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