GEORGE MURPHY - Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Tim Howard and US Men's National Team got a new record sixth-straight shutout against Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday evening in in Bridgeview, Illinois.
Sacha Kljestan got the start and played all ninety minutes on the day after his twenty-fifth birthday over Maurice Edu, but there were no other changes to Bob Bradley's roster over the weekend against Cuba.
Michael Bradley celebrated his recent signing with Moenchengladbach with a goal in the ninth minute after converting a Landon Donovan free kick from the left side. The free kick was a result of a foul on Damarcus Beasley committed by Carlos Edwards. Edwards, who plays his club soccer for Roy Keane's Sunderland, may have been to blame for losing Bradley and leaving him wide open on the free kick.
A few minutes later Steve Cherundulo stormed down the right hand side and played a low hard cross which almost found Brian Ching on the far post, but Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Marvin Phillips was able to clear it with a last-minute effort.
In the seventeenth minute the United States was able to find it's second goal of the game. Clint Dempsey stole the ball from a Trini midfielder, played Damarcus Beasley in the middle, and the former Chicago Fire midfielder was able to play Dempsey into space in the box and beat Phillips far post for an impressive one-two goal.
The United States continued the pressure against a Trinidad and Tobago team who seemed to be chasing the United States throughout much of the game. One of many chances in the first half included Brian Ching almost converting an impressive one-time cross from Landon Donovan on the left side, and even though Ching was able to take it in stride he couldn't get his shot off in time despite having nobody but Phillips standing in his way of his first USMNT goal this year.
Trinidad and Tobago started the second half threatening the United States on a number of occasions, and would have had a goal in the 53rd minute had Steve Cherundulo not cleared the ball off of his own line after a Trini header. The United States nearly countered, but Brian Ching was unable to convert a cross in the box after his shot was deflected off of a Trinidad defender.
Akili Edwards was cautioned in the fifty-sixth minute for a reckless challenge of Steve Cherundulo, and on the resulting free kick Brian Ching was able to convert a Damarcus Beasley free kick which was flicked on by Oguchi Onyewu.
Steve Cherundulo continued his yellow card collection in the following minute for a late foul on Keon Daniel, which was followed by a late foul by Anthony Wolfe which also saw the Jamaican referee show a caution.
Tim Howard was rarely called on in the game, but did make a point blank save in the sixtieth minute, which was followed by Wolfe putting in the rebound but the goal was disallowed after the linesman raised his flag for offside.
In the sixty-third minute, Sacha Kljestan was wide open at the top of the eighteen yard line, but shot hit Phillips in the chest after Landon Donovan found him and stole the ball from Makan Hislop, the second cousin of Shaka, who was slow to clear ball out of his own box.
Eddie Johnson and Ricardo Clarke entered the game in the sixty-sixth minute, coming on for Brian Ching and Michael Bradley. Bradley currently leads the team this year in minutes played.
The United States failed to put an exclamation mark on the game against a weaker Trinidad and Tobago team, but was able to keep the bulk of possession throughout the second half.
In the seventy-seventh minute Eddie Lewis came on for goal scorer Clint Dempsey, who was holding his hamstring late in the first half after diving for a ball that went out of bounds.
When the final whistle was blown in front of a vocal crowd of 11,452 the United States recorded their third victory in three games after defeating Trinidad and Tobago. Bob Bradley and company are off until early next month, when they'll face Cuba in Washington, DC at RFK Stadium.