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)