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USMNT eliminated from World Cup contention with loss to Trinidad

COUVA, Trinidad & Tobago (Via U.S. Soccer) – With an unlikely combination of results in the final Matchday of CONCACAF Qualifying, the U.S. Men’s National Team was eliminated from contention for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

After falling 2-1 to Trinidad & Tobago, the doomsday combination of a Honduras victory against Mexico (3-2) and a Panama win over Costa Rica (2-1) dropped the U.S. from third to fifth place in the Hexagonal. Panama qualified directly with its third place finish, while Honduras will face off against Australia in the intercontinental playoff.

A pair of improbable goals from the Socca Warriors in the first half gave the hosts a 2-0 lead and put the USA in the difficult position of needing to break down an opponent that kept 10 men behind the ball in the second half.

Christian Pulisic cut the deficit in half just minutes into the second stanza when his strike from the top of the box in the 47th minute found the back of the net. The U.S. continued to push forward and created numerous quality chances, but Trinidad goalkeeper Adrian Fonette was up to the task as he pulled off impressive saves to keep the lead.

Pulisic, Omar Gonzalez, Bobby Wood, and Darlington Nagbe all saw chances denied at the last moment by Fonette, while half-time substitute Clint Dempsey saw one of his two great chances hit the post flush and bounce out as time wound down.

Goal Scoring Rundown:
TRI – Omar Gonzalez (own goal), 17th minute: 
A Trinidad & Tobago attack down the USA’s left flank resulted in a fluke own goal when Alvin Jones centered a ball for Shahdon Winchester that was beyond his reach but ricocheted off Omar Gonzalez’s outstretched foot, looping into the top right corner of U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard’s net for the shock lead.
USA 0, TRI 1 [WATCH]

TRI – Alvin Jones (Nathan Lewis), 36th minute: Receiving a pass from Nathan Lewis, Jones took a touch before unleashing a speculative drive nearly 30 yards out from goal. The shot from the right side of the field swerved wildly away from the center of goal, finding the left side netting. USA 0, TRI 2 [WATCH]

USA – Christian Pulisic (Darlington Nagbe), 47th minute: Nagbe won the ball just outside the Socca Warriors’ box and played a quick pass to Pulisic, whose first touch set him up to rip a shot through traffic from just outside the top of the penalty arc across the face of goal into the top left corner. USA 1, TRI 2 [WATCH] FINAL

Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
USA – Tim Howard, 44th minute: Having found his luck with one long-distance strike already, Jones sent a free kick from 40 yards out near the right sideline blistering toward the U.S. goal. The shot dipped just inside the six-yard box and took a nasty bounce off the choppy turf, nearly wrong-footing Howard, who held up just enough to get his shoulder to the ball and keep it out. His job not done, Howard tracked the rebound as it rolled to the left of the goal, knocking it away from Winchester with a well-executed sliding tackle.

USA – DeAndre Yedlin, 49th minute: A Trinidad attack up the right wing worked its way into the USA box but was snuffed out at the last minute by a sliding block from Yedlin to deny Nathan Lewis at the left post from four yards out with Howard down.

USA – DeAndre Yedlin, 58th minute: It was a great recovery by Yedlin to chase down Nathan Lewis and get in a last-minute sliding tackle to deny a point blank shot on goal after the speedy Socca Warriors’ attacker had gotten free down the U.S. left flank.

USA – Tim Howard 63rd minute: As the game opened up with the U.S. pushing forward for an equalizer, the ball was lifted into the U.S. box for a shot from the middle of the penalty area that Howard got down well to kick away.

TRI – Adrian Foncette, 69th minute: A well-executed set play by the USA saw Michael Bradley play the ball toward the top of the Soca Warriors’ box. Dempsey met the pass and sent a chipped shot toward the top left corner but Foncette just got a hand to tip it over the bar.

TRI – Adrian Foncette, 77th minute: As the U.S. carved out another attack, Foncette was finally beaten by a low effort from the top of the box by Dempsey. As it was headed for the lower left corner, a sprawling Foncette made a fingernail save down to his left to deflect the shot onto the post.

TRI – Adrian Foncette, 88th minute: With its last best chance to knot the score at 2-2, Bobby Wood evaded his marker and met Pulisic’s cross to send a downward header bouncing toward the right side of goal, but Foncette got down quick to push the point blank header around the post.

NOTES:

  • The U.S. MNT moved to 18-3-4 all-time vs. Trinidad & Tobago, 13-2-3 in World Cup Qualifying and 4-2-2 in away qualifiers.
  • Altidore and Michael Bradley appeared in 15 of the team’s 16 CONCACAF qualifiers for Russia 2018.
  • The Toronto FC pair also joined left back Jorge Villafaña in making their team-leading 14th appearances of 2017.
  • While he recorded five goals and four assists in qualifying matches this year, in one way or another, Christian Pulisic has been involved in 12 of the 17 goals scored by the U.S. during the Final Round of 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying.
  • In order to get the gameday roster down to 23 players, defender Michael Orozco and midfielder Juan Agudelo did not dress for tonight’s match.

– U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report –

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Date: Oct. 10, 2017
Competition: 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying – Final Round
Venue: Ato Boldon Stadium; Couva, Trinidad
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
Attendance: TBC
Weather: 80 degrees; mostly clear

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F 
USA                          0 1 1
TRI                           2 0 2

TRI – Own Goal (Omar Gonzalez)      17th minute
TRI – Alvin Jones (Nathan Lewis)       37
USA – Christian Pulisic                        47

Lineups:
USA: 1-Tim Howard, 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 3-Omar Gonzalez, 5-Matt Besler, 15-Jorge Villafaña (23-Kellyn Acosta, 72), 4-Michael Bradley (capt.), 21-Paul Arriola (8-Clint Dempsey, 46), 10-Christian Pulisic, 6-Darlington Nagbe (16-Benny Feilhaber, 84), 9-Bobby Wood, 17-Jozy Altidore
Subs not used: 12-Brad Guzan, 22-Nick Rimando, 7-DaMarcus Beasley, 11-Alejandro Bedoya, 13-Dax McCarty, 14-Tim Ream, 18-Chris Wondolowski, 19-Graham Zusi, 20-Geoff Cameron
Head coach: Bruce Arena

TRI: 22-Adrian Foncette, 5-Daneil Cyrus, 7-Nathan Lewis, 8-Khaleem Hyland (capt.), 9-Shahdon Winchester (20-Trevin Caesar, 78), 13-Curtis Gonzales, 16-Levi Garcia (3-Joevin Jones, 72), 17-Alvin Jones, 18-Triston Hodge (4-Kevon Villaroel, 81), 19-Kevan George, 23-Leston Paul
Subs not used: 1-Glenroy Samuel, 21-Gregory Ranjitsingh, 2-Kareem Moses, 6-Josiah Trimmingham, 10-Karl Duane Muckette, 11-Neil Benjamin, 12-Kathon St. Hillaire, 14-Akeem Roach, 15-Jared London
Head coach: Dennis Lawrence

Stats Summary: USA / TRI
Shots: 15 / 11
Shots on Goal: 6 / 5
Saves: 3 / 5
Corner Kicks: 5 / 2
Fouls: 18 / 11
Offside: 3 / 3

Misconduct Summary:
TRI – Triston Hodge (caution)               68th minute
USA – Omar Gonzalez (caution)           90+1
TRI – Joevin Jones (caution)                 90+3
USA – Matt Besler (caution)                  90+5

Officials: 
Referee: Juan Carlos Guerra (GUA)
Assistant Referee 1: Ronaldo de la Cruz (GUA)
Assistant Referee 2: David Moran (SLV)
Fourth Official: Fernando Guerrero (MEX)