USMNT to kickoff 2021 schedule against Trinidad & Tobago on January 31
CHICAGO – The U.S. Men’s National Team will open its 2021 schedule with a friendly against Trinidad & Tobago on Jan. 31 at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Fla.
Coverage of the USA’s first match of the campaign begins at 7 p.m. ET on FS1, UniMas and TUDN. Fans will be able to follow the match via Twitter @USMNT, Instagram @USMNT, Facebook and The Official U.S. Soccer App.
The match will serve as an important preparation opportunity for the rest of the year as players look to stake their claim to represent the USMNT in June’s Concacaf Nations League Final Four, the Gold Cup in July and the start of 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying, which kicks off in September.
“It’s nice after an intensive training camp to get to compete,” Berhalter said. “The guys have been working hard and we welcome the opportunity to play against a regional rival like Trinidad and Tobago.”
The staging of the camp and the match fall under the comprehensive U.S. Soccer Return to Play Protocols. Due to the evolving conditions related to the global pandemic, capacity for the event will be limited to 4,500 fans.
SAFETY PROTOCOLS AND GUIDELINES | COVID-19 WARNING
At the USMNT vs. Trinidad & Tobago match, fans will be required to wear face coverings at all times while on stadium premises except while actively eating or drinking. A socially distanced stadium seating manifest has been designed to keep fans in place and within their own parties of four or less, which also includes the following protocols:
• Adequate spacing between the field of play and ticket purchasers has been arranged.
• Each occupied row will have a maximum of two parties (each comprised of four or fewer people), allowing each party to access the aisle closest to its seats without stepping over another party.
• Every party will have at least six feet of space between it and other parties.
• Tickets will not be issued for the first two seats closest to the aisle.
• Reserved seating only, general admission will not be allowed.
• Mobile-only tickets
Concession stands will have cashless payment. No bags, including clear bags, will be allowed. Ticket holders will have a preferred gate to enter the stadium based on their ticket location.
USMNT VS. TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
Orlando is hosting the first friendly encounter between the teams since 1994. Overall, the United States holds a 19-3-4 record in the series dating back to 1982. In the last meeting, the USMNT recorded its largest ever margin of victory against Trinidad & Tobago with a 6-0 victory before 23,921 at FirstEnergy Stadium to book a spot in the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup Quarterfinals. Gyasi Zardes and Aaron Long scored two goals apiece, Christian Pulisic and Paul Arriola also tallied goals, while Zack Steffen and the U.S. defense kept a second consecutive clean sheet in an impressive result that also tied the USMNT’s largest ever margin of victory in a Gold Cup game.
The first match of the year is a prelude to three significant competitions in 2021 for both the senior team and the U-23 USMNT. The Concacaf Olympic Qualifying Championship will be held from March 18-30 in Guadalajara, Mexico to determine the confederation’s representatives at the Olympic Games in Tokyo that summer.
In the meantime, the USMNT kicks off the summer with the Concacaf Nations League final four. As the winners of League A’s Group A, the USMNT takes on Honduras in one semifinal, while Mexico and Costa Rica will square off in the other, with the winners competing for the inaugural Nations League title. The matches are scheduled for the FIFA window in the first week of June, with the venues and times still to be determined.
The following month, the U.S. will compete in the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup in search of its seventh confederation championship title. The USMNT has been drawn into Group A with Canada, Martinique and a third team to be determined through a qualifying tournament. The United States last lifted the trophy in 2017, when Jordan Morris netted the game-winner against Jamaica in the 2-1 victory.
Those games serve as prelude to the start of 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying, which will feature an eight-team final round and commence in September of 2021.
This will be the USA’s seventh visit to Orlando and the fourth since the opening of Exploria Stadium. In the most recent visit on Nov 15, 2019, Gyasi Zardes grabbed a brace, Jordan Morris tallied a goal and an assist while Aaron Long also scored in the comprehensive 4-1 victory against Canada in Concacaf Nations league play. With the win, head coach Gregg Berhalter became the second-fastest coach in USMNT history to reach 10 victories.
A near 20-year gap in trips to Orlando began following a 1-0 win against Sweden in 1998. Then in 2017, the United States returned to overwhelm Panama in a 4-0 World Cup qualifying win in front of a sellout crowd of 25,303 fans. An 81st minute strike from Gyasi Zardes earned the United States a 1-0 shutout victory against Ecuador on March 21, 2019. That result made Berhalter just the second USMNT head coach to begin his tenure with three straight victories.