KENYA BROWN - Wednesday, September 7, 2016
The United States guaranteed their place in the Hexagonal with a massive win over Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday in Jacksonville, Florida.
Goals from Sacha Kljestan, Paul Arriola and two from Jozy Altidore helped the team finish atop of Group C in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying and they now forge ahead with the goal of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann once again fiddled with the lineup as he brought in Tim Howard to start in goal in his usual rotation with Brad Guzan. Stever Birnbaum and Omar Gonzalez started in defense, while Michael Bradley made his return to the team after serving a one-game suspension during the game against St. Vincent and the Grenadines. After superb play last week, Kljestan and Christian Pulisic earned starts on the day.
The Soca Warriors had the first effort of the game in the seventh minute when Joevin Jones blasted a shot from distance, but Howard had no problems handling it.
Pulisic would then have the United States' first crack at goal two minutes later when he collected a pass from Kljestan cut into the area and struck the ball with his right foot, but it was well saved by T&T goalkeeper Marvin Phillip.
It went back and forth between both teams as they each had chances to open the scoring. Then the US found their first goal in the 44th minute. The T&T defense failed on two attempts to clear the ball from their area when it fell to the feet of Kljestan, who had no problems poking it past Phillip.
Play in the second half would open up more and the US would score their second on the night 15 minutes in through Altidore. Regaining the ball in their own end the US quickly moved the ball up field and Fabian Johnson would lay on a beautiful pass to the forward, who slipped passed his marker to his shot past Phillip.
Altidore did not have to wait long to score his second goal as it came three minutes later. Pulisic, showing a maturity that some 17-year-olds may not possess in the game yet, played a one-two with Kljestan before crossing the ball right across the T&T goal to allow Altidore to have the easy tap in.
The home side scored their fourth in the 71st minute when Paul Arriola, who came on as substitute for Alejandro Bedoya, tapped in the rebound from Pulisic's saved effort.
An impressive win by the US and one that should give them a boost of confidence as they head into the Hex.
They will be looking to get things off on the right foot when they face cross-border rivals Mexico on Nov. 11 in the first game.