RICH FIDLER - Wednesday, September 9, 2009
The United States went to Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday night and escaped with a one goal victory and the full three points thanks to a spectacular second half strike from Ricardo Clark.
Head coach Bob Bradley only made two changes from the starting eleven that beat El Salvador 2-1 on Saturday evening. Defender Oguchi Onyewu returned from his yellow card suspension to replace Chad Marshall while Aarhus' Benny Feilhaber was replaced in the midfield by Clark.
The home team nearly put the first goal on the score board in the 27th minute but goalkeeper Tim Howard came up with the save after Kenwyne Jones powerful header over Gooch was stopped on the doorstop.
San Jose Earthquake striker Cornell Glenn chipped Howard two minutes later after turning captain Carlos Bocanegra but his shot bounced off the crossbar.
Trinidad continued to push forward with the better opportunities, and Howard once again had to come to the rescue in the 37th minute. A free-kick from Trent Noel cleared the wall and forced Howard to dive to his right to save the shot destined for the back of the net, though the free kick would not have counted since it was indirect.
The US nearly scored in stoppage time when Jozy Altidore and Landon Donovan played a fantastic "one-two" before Donovan's left-footed strike from inside the penalty area was saved by 'keeper Clayton Ince.
The US would score in the 62nd minute when Donovan played a ball to Clark 25 yards from goal. The Houston Dynamo midfielder took one touch to the top of the arc and slammed the ball past Ince with the outside of his right foot.
Immediately after the goal Bradley went to the bench and brought in Feilhaber for Altidore, pushing Clint Dempsey up top with Charlie Davies. Just 13 minutes later Brian Ching would replace Davies for the second change of the evening at Hasely Crawford Stadium.
Stuart Holden would join his two other Houston Dynamo teammates, Clark and Ching, in the 81st minute was the Americans' final substitute replacing Dempsey.
The late sub played a cross to Donovan just minutes before the full-time whistle that Donovan just skipped high of Ince's goal, in what would have been the visitors' second goal.
The Americans will convene for the final two games of the hexagonal at Honduras on Saturday, October 10th before finishing the qualification round at home on October 13th against Costa Rica with a birth to South Africa on the line.