AUSTIN, Texas (Nov. 16, 2023) – The U.S. Men’s National Team earned a crucial 3-0 win against Trinidad and Tobago in the first leg of the 2023-24 Concacaf Nations League Quarterfinal Round, which also serves as qualifying for the prestigious 2024 Copa America in the United States. Goals from forward Ricardo Pepi, midfielder Gio Reyna and defender Antonee Robinson, who was involved in all three goals, earned the team an important victory after a resilient performance in front of an electric crowd of almost 20,000 fans.
The USMNT will now face Trinidad and Tobago in the away leg of the quarterfinals on Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. ET at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain, Trinidad. The match will be broadcast live on TNT, Universo, MAX and Peacock. Live Spanish-language audio for the match will be available on Fútbol de Primera radio.
The USA dominated the match with a whopping 75 percent possession and limited the opponents to a single shot and none on target. The tone for the night was set from the jump as the U.S. was aggressive in the attack while Trinidad and Tobago sat back with 11 players deep in their defensive third and invited the pressure, showing admirable discipline for most of the match to deny a breakthrough goal.
The hurdle for the visitors got taller in the 38th minute when midfielder Noah Powder, who was already on a yellow card after a reckless tackle in the 18th minute, brought down midfielder Weston McKennie aggressively from behind, earning his second caution of the night and leaving the Soca Warriors with 10 men going into the break.
The U.S. came out determined in the second half, stringing together chance after chance, each time looking more likely to score. The hosts almost earned a penalty kick in the 60th minute after an apparent foul on McKennie inside the box, but a VAR review overturned the decision.
The Americans found a fresh rhythm after Pepi and forward Brenden Aaronson came off the bench in the 66th minute, leading to more numbers in the box and more looks on goal. The team finally found its break in the 82nd minute as Pepi came up with a brilliant flick with the outside of his foot to finish a cross from Robinson from the left side to break the deadlock. The goal was the striker’s seventh of 2023 and fifth off the bench, extending his record of most goals by a USMNT substitute in a calendar year.
The floodgates opened from there as Robinson, who assisted the opening goal minutes earlier, came up with a brilliant strike of his own as he pounced on a rebound and buried a shot from 20 yards out. The USA put its final touch on the night in the 89th minute as Robinson played the ball to Reyna near the top of the box and he combined cleverly with forward Folarin Balogun for a one-two pass that freed Reyna of his mark for a well-placed finish from close range.
GOAL SCORING RUNDOWN:
USA – Ricardo Pepi (Antonee Robinson), 82nd minute: Robinson dribbled up the left wing and sent in a cross that was deflected by a defender and landed at the feet of Gio Reyna. The attacker played it back out to the left for Robinson to send a driven cross into the box which Pepi met with a clever flick outside of the foot flick to beat the goalkeeper at the near post. USA 1, TRI 0
USA – Antonee Robinson, 86th minute: Reyna dribbled into the box on the right side and sent a cross in which was cleared out. Robinson collected the rebound at the top of the box and fired a curling shot from 20 yards toward the left post, earning a favorable deflection off a defender before it tucked into the top corner. USA 2, TRI 0
USA – Gio Reyna (Folarin Balogun) 89th minute: Robinson played a ball to Reyna near the top of the box and he flicked it to Balogun with clever footwork. Balogun returned the pass on his first touch, leaving Reyna unmarked to finish from the left corner of the six-yard box. USA 3, TRI 0 FINAL.
- With the win, the USA takes a 3-0 lead aggregate goals lead going into the CNL Quarterfinal Second Leg on Monday night at Trinidad at Tobago.
- The USMNT improves to 22-3-4 in 29 previous matches against Trinidad and Tobago, and 11-1-1 all-time in Concacaf Nations League play. The USMNT also moves to 10-2-5 in 2023, marking the 14th year the team has reached double-digit victories.
The USMNT now holds a perfect 4-0-0 record at Q2 Stadium in Austin, with all four victories coming by shutout.
Ricardo Pepi's 82nd minute game-winner was his 10th career goal and seventh of 2023. The 20-year-old forward has scored five of his seven goals off the bench this year, the most by a USMNT player in a calendar year.
Pepi (21 caps; 20 years, 311 days) becomes the second fastest USMNT player to reach double-digit goals both by caps and age. He trails Jesús Ferreira (20 caps) and Christian Pulisic (20 years, 189 days).
Antonee Robinson provided his sixth career assist on Pepi’s goal before hitting home his third career international goal to make it 2-0 in the 86th minute.
Gio Reyna’s 89th minute goal was the seventh of his international career and marked the second time he has scored in back-to-back international matches, following his brace in last month’s 4-0 win vs. Ghana.
Starting his seventh consecutive match for the USMNT, Folarin Balogun collected his second career assist on Reyna’s goal. Balogun has three goals and two assists since debuting for the USA in June.
The Starting XI had an average age of 24 years, 275 days. The lineup also averages 26 caps and 14 in official competition.
With eight players under the age of 23 appearing for the USA tonight, Gregg Berhalter moved into second all-time among USMNT head coaches in terms of caps awarded to players 23 and younger with 482 in 64 matches. Bora Milutinovic holds the record, with 502 U-23 caps in his 96 matches as USMNT manager. Berhalter also improved to 41-12-12 in 65 matches as head coach.
Twenty-year-old midfielder Yunus Musah earned his 32nd cap, tying Jozy Altidore, Landon Donovan and Christian Pulisic for the most appearances by a USMNT player before their 21st birthday. Musah also made his 30th start, extending his record of starts by a USMNT player before turning 21 – Donovan is second with 27 starts before his 21st birthday.
Full back Sergiño Dest joined Musah in making his 30th start for the USMNT.
Weston McKennie made his USMNT-leading 12th Concacaf Nations League appearance. The midfielder has missed only one CNL match since the competition began in 2019, serving a one-game suspension in the 2022-23 CNL Final earlier this year against Canada.
Forward Kevin Paredes made his first start, earned his first cap in official competition and played his first match against Concacaf opposition tonight against Trinidad and Tobago.
Veteran defender Tim Ream captained the side one day short of the 13-year anniversary of his first cap, a 1-0 win at South Africa on Nov. 17, 2010. The USMNT is 7-1-1 in the nine matches Ream has served as captain.
- Ream anchored the same backline that worked together in the 1-0 win against IR Iran at last year’s FIFA World Cup. The veteran partnered with Cameron Carter-Vickers in central defense for the second time, while his Fulham teammate Antonee Robinson and Sergiño Dest were deployed in the full back positions.
Tonight’s match was also Carter-Vickers’ first start since last year’s win against Iran.
- Matt Turner made his team-leading 12th appearance of 2023 and moved past Arnie Mausser for sole possession of sixth all-time in caps among USMNT goalkeepers with 36 appearance. Tonight’s match was also Turner’s 17th cap in 19 USMNT matches during FIFA international windows dating back to last September against Japan.
- U.S. MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM MATCH REPORT -
Match: United States Men’s National Team vs. Trinidad and Tobago
Date: November 16, 2023
Competition: 2023-24 Concacaf Nations League – Quarterfinal, Leg One
Venue: Q2 Stadium; Austin, Texas
Kickoff: 9:07 p.m. ET (8:07 local)
Weather: 57 degrees, clear
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 3 3
TRI 0 0 0
USA – Ricardo Pepi (Antonee Robinson) 82nd minute
USA – Antonee Robinson 86
USA – Gio Reyna (Folarin Balogun) 89
USA: 1-Matt Turner; 2-Sergiño Dest, 3-Cameron Carter-Vickers, 13-Tim Ream (Capt.), 5-Antonee Robinson; 8-Weston McKennie, 6-Yunus Musah, 7-Gio Reyna; 17-Malik Tillman (9-Ricardo Pepi, 66) 20-Folarin Balogun, 16-Kevin Paredes (11-Brenden Aaronson, 66)
Substitutes not used: 18-Ethan Horvath, 21-Gaga Slonina, 4-Chris Richards, 10-Alex Zendejas, 12-Miles Robinson, 14-Luca de la Torre, 15-Paxten Aaronson, 19-Joe Scally, 22-Lennard Maloney, 23-Kristoffer Lund
Head coach: Gregg Berhalter
TRI: 22-Denzil Smith; 14-Shannon Gomez, 16-Alvin Jones, 2-Aubrey David (Capt.), 17-Justin Garcia, 6-Andre Raymond; 7-Ryan Telfer (15-Neveal Hackshaw, 46), 12-Daniel Phillips (23-Kristian Lee-Him, 66) 18-Andre Rampersad (4-Jesse Williams, 66) 8-Noah Powder; 19-Malcolm Shaw (11-Levi Garcia, 66)
Substitutes not used: 1-Christopher Biggette, 21-Rushon Sandy, 3-Ross Russell, 5-Michel Poon-Angeron, 9-Nathaniel James, 10-Real Gill, 13-Reon Moore, 20-Kaile Auvray
Head coach: Angus Eve
Stats Summary: USA / TRI
Shots: 26 / 1
Shots on Goal: 8 / 0
Saves: 0 / 5
Corner Kicks: 10 / 0
Fouls: 14 / 9
Offside: 2 / 3
TRI – Noah Powder (Caution) 18th minute
TRI – Noah Powder (Caution) 38
TRI – Noah Powder (Ejection) 38
TRI – Neveal Hackshaw (Caution) 90+1
Referee: Oshane Nation (JAM)
Assistant Referee 1: Stephanie-Dale Yee Sing (JAM)
Assistant Referee 2: Ojay Duhaney (JAM)
4th Official: Christopher Mason (JAM)
VAR: Drew Fischer (CAN)
AVAR: Benjamin Pineda (CRC)