The story tonight in Cleveland for the USMNT is obvious: How different is this team from the one that lost 2-1 to Trinidad and Tobago 620 days ago? The Americans lost their chance to qualify for the 2018 World Cup that night, and the narrative ever since then has been rebuilding a foundation.
Part of that foundation can be reformed tonight against the Trinidadians in the second match of the Gold Cup (8 p.m. EST, FS1 and Univision). If this team, which has an average age of 25 and a half, is going to push towards a 2022 World Cup berth, it needs to learn to take care of business against the lesser Caribbean teams of the CONCACAF.
After a sluggish first half against lowly Guyana, the U.S. found its stride with three goals in the second half for a 4-0 triumph in the Group Stage opener. Meanwhile, Trinidad and Tobago dropped a 2-0 decision to Panama in their’s.
Captain Michael Bradley chose to focus on the task ahead, rather than the “revenge” narrative.
“Totally different team,” Bradley said to MLS Soccer. “There’s like two or three guys here who were in Trinidad. So I’m not sure other than it being a nice narrative for you guys, I’m not sure inside of the group if it carries a whole lot of weight.”
USA vs. Trinidad & Tobago Chances & Predictions
The Americans are ranked No. 30 in the FIFA World Rankings, while T&T sneaks into the top-100 at No. 92.
While the offense finally broke through in the final 45 minutes versus Guyana, Stars and Stripes expressed doubt about the defense with the absence of Tyler Adams.
Sure, the USMNT kept a clean sheet. Sure, Steffen only had to make one save. But that US defense looked awfully soft. Guyana’s attackers weren’t exactly world beaters — we are talking a slew of USL and other lower division level players — but they certainly made the US defense uncomfortable. The team gave them a lot of space in midfield, to run into and some tricky dribbling made the backline very nervous, even though there was a lack of end-product.
That requires a better replacement effort from Matt Miazga and company. On the bright side, the Soca Warriors may be a perfect team to work through defensive issues. They haven’t scored a goal in six straight games (five losses and a draw).
However, their defense has been stiff during that stretch, ceding just seven goals in those contests and never losing by more than two. This might be the time for Gregg Berhalter to see how healthy Jozy Altidore is after months of recovery from an undisclosed injury.
First prediction: Altidore finds his form with a second-half shift and a goal, while Tyler Boyd notches another for his third of the tournament. The pick here is 2-0.
Starting XI for U.S. Men vs. Trinidad & Tobago
USMNT Roster for Gold Cup
|1||GK Zach Steffen|
|2||D Nick Lima|
|3||D Omar Gonzalez|
|4||M Michael Bradley|
|5||D Walker Zimmerman|
|6||M Wil Trapp|
|7||F Paul Arriola|
|8||M Weston McKennie|
|9||F Gyasi Zardes|
|10||M Christian Pulisic|
|11||F Jordan Morris|
|12||GK Sean Johnson|
|13||D Tim Ream|
|14||D Reggie Cannon|
|15||M Cristian Roldan|
|16||D Daniel Lovitz|
|17||F Jozy Altidore|
|18||F Jonathan Lewis|
|19||D Matt Miazga|
|20||M Djordje Mihailovic|
|21||F Tyler Boyd|
|22||GK Tyler Miller|
|23||D Aaron Long|