World Cup qualifying preview: Can USMNT finish the job vs. T&T?
- A draw will secure qualification to the final stage of qualifying for the USA
- Klinsmann’s side drew 0-0 at T&T last November
- Geoff Cameron is only U.S. player to play every single minute of World Cup qualifying so far
- The U.S. is 16-2-4 all-time vs. T&T
With qualification to the fifth and final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 World Cup all but secured (but still not mathematically), the U.S. national team will look to get the job done and finish top of Group C.
A win against Trinidad & Tobago on Tuesday (kick off 8 p.m. ET) in their final game of fourth-round qualifying will secure top spot, with the U.S. never failing to finish top of their group during the semifinal round of qualifying since this format was introduced in 1998. If they lose to T&T and Guatemala beats St. Vincent and the Grenadines, then there would still need to be a 13-goal swing for the U.S. to not make it through to the final round of qualifying.
[ MORE: How will USA line up? ]
In short: Jurgen Klinsmann’s side only need a point to secure qualification to “The Hexagonal” which will start this November as the final six teams in CONCACAF will battle it out for the three automatic spots for a placeat the 2018 World Cup in Russia, plus fourth place in the Hex will set up a playoff with the fifth-place team from the Asian Football Confederation.
T&T -- who have already qualified for the Hex and return to that stage after missing out in 2014 World Cup qualification -- will provide a tough test and held Klinsmann’s side to a 0-0 draw in the Port of Spain last November. With Kenwyne Jones up top they have an abundance of power and goalscoring ability, plus the Soca Warriors know they only need a draw to clinch top spot.
[ MORE: Pulisic shines in win over SVG ]
This encounter will be far from routine as both sides aim to finish top and secure a somewhat more favorable through the Hex. If he U.S. finishes in top spot that will set up a home game against Mexico this November in the opening game of the Hex. We all know what that means.
A win for Klinsmann’s side on Tuesday and it’s “see you in Columbus” with another dose of Dos A Cero anticipated for a chilly November evening in Ohio. Sounds good, right?
The U.S. will be without starting right back DeAndre Yedlin due to a one-game ban for yellow card accumulation, while Matt Besler has been released from the squad to visit his newborn daughter back home in Kansas City. Besler scored on Friday in the USA’s win vs. SVG, the same day he found out his wife had given birth back in KC. Klinsmann has also revealed that Tim Howard will start in goal as he continues to split time between the U.S. veteran and Brad Guzan. Michael Bradley and Michael Orozco have joined the U.S. national team camp after being suspended for the game against St. Vincent and the Grenadines last Friday.
All eyes will be on Christian Pulisic as the 17-year-old Borussia Dortmund attacking midfielder became the youngster player in U.S. national team history to score in World Cup qualifying last week, as he jumped off the bench to score twice in the 6-0 win over SVG.
What they’re saying
Tim Howard on finishing first: “Having been through a few of these qualifying campaigns, it’s nice to finish first. I think we have to set that standard for ourselves. We’re always competing with Mexico and Costa Rica and we want that dominance. The only way we can create that measure of success is by finishing first, so yeah, it’s important to us.”
The U.S. loves, loves, loves playing in Jacksonville. With T&T already through to the final round of qualifying, they may take their foot off the pedal slightly as they prepare for the Hex. That said, first place is on the line in this group with huge permutations in terms of scheduling for the final round of qualifying. I think the U.S. gets it done but it won’t be easy. 2-1 to the USA.