USA faces off against Trinidad and Tobago in World Cup qualifier
U.S. men's soccer team undefeated at EverBank Field
Jacksonville, Fla. – The United States will host Trinidad and Tobago in their final match of the fourth round of CONCACAF qualifiers for the 2018FIFA World Cup Tuesday night, needing only a draw to advance to the Hexagonal.
The Soca Warriors have already qualified and will win the group with a draw, while Guatemala still have an outside chance at qualification. They host winless St. Vincent and the Grenadines and are expected to cruise to three easy points.
Per U.S. Soccer, Trinidad and Tobago have never beaten the Stars and Stripes on American soil.
For manager Jurgen Klinsmann and his troops, Tuesday's task will be a simple one: Don't lose to the Soca Warriors, and the Stars and Stripes' 2018 World Cup hopes remain alive.
Guatemala will most likely beat the Vincy Heat at home. St. Vincent and the Grenadines have yet to earn a point in the fourth round, and the side barely put up a fight in their last outing at home against the USA.
According to U.S. Soccer, the hosts will be without defenders Matt Bessler and DeAndre Yedlin, opening the door for Omar Gonzalez to start. He said he's ready if called on:
“My mind frame is the same that I’ve had since coming into this camp, just be ready for anything,” Gonzales said. “I knew that I wasn’t going to maybe see the field against St. Vincent and my mindset has always been to come in, work hard, make it hard for the person I’m playing against and just have a good attitude, be a good team player and go from there. So far it’s worked well. I’ve felt good in the group, I’m happy to be back and everything is going well.”
Trinidad and Tobago have been solid on the road so far, picking up wins in Guatemala and St. Vincent. The Soca Warriors play committed and disciplined defense and give away few open chances, and while the team can be a little ineffective in front of goal, a one-goal lead is often enough to seal the win.
Joevin Jones will be one to keep an eye on. The Seattle Sounders man has been in excellent form of late, and he scored both of the team's goals to put the Soca Warriors through to the next round.
For the Stars and Stripes, Bobby Wood and Jozy Altidore put together fine outings against St. Vincent in attack, but two substitutes stole the show. Sacha Kljestan was all over the pitch after coming on, and Christian Pulisic continued his ascent toward superstardom with a brace.
Kljestan in particular should receive serious consideration to start against Trinidad. The former Anderlecht man been has been sensational for New York Red Bulls for quite some time now, and he adds the kind of range and creativity Klinsmann's midfield often lacks.
Pulisic is still just 17, and starting him in such a pivotal qualifier may be too soon. The Borussia Dortmund starlet can provide a boost of energy and creativity from the bench, and he could be the perfect substitute should the team need a late goal.
Expect the USA not to commit to the attack too much, as Trinidad and Tobago are fantastic at hitting on the counter, particularly when working the ball wide. Without the speedy Yedlin, the Stars and Stripes could get in real trouble if they move too far up the pitch.
Instead, Klinsmann's side should be patient in their passing game, knowing things will open up sooner or later if the likes of Kljestan has permission to play some balls over the top or in behind the defensive line.
EverBank friendly confine for Stars and Stripes
The U.S. men's soccer team are undefeated at EverbBank Field dating back to 1997 when they moved from Wolfson Park. They plan to keep the streak alive starting at 7:15 p.m.
The U.S. beat Israel in 1997, Germany in 1999, Scotland in 2012, and Nigeria in 2014.
Tuesday's match has high stakes for the U.S. team. The result of the match will determine their position in the last round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Attendance for men's U.S. soccer at EverBank Field has been steadily increasing over their last two appearances. In 2014, 52,033 fans turned out, scattering the previous record set two years prior of 44,438.
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