Photo Source: U.S. Soccer/isiphotos
A 3-0 butt-kicking by the Americans in Nashville, headlined by that man, Jozy Altidore. Given a start after a strong appearance off the substitutes bench against El Salvador, he bagged a hat trick this time (and he’s the youngest USMNT’er to get one). Landon Donovan assisted on all three goals (extending his national team record in that category), and it wasn’t just the two of them who destroyed the Soca Warriors’ defense. Others like DaMarcus Beasley and Brian Ching were good, and this game could easily have been 4 or 5-0. Frankly, T&T knew it was lucky to be down only 1-0 at halftime. But they really didn’t improve in the second half, and the U.S. finally got its deserved second and third goals to make sure of victory and a continued hold on first place in the group heading into June’s pair of qualifiers.
The result wasn’t a huge surprise, given that the U.S. beat T&T 3-0 in Denver last year during the previous phase of World Cup qualifying, and that the Soca Warriors were missing several players, most notably suspended leader Dwight Yorke. Of course, most of us thought the U.S. would win comfortably in El Salvador last Saturday because even though road games in CONCACAF can be really tough (lots of noisy and tightly-packed stadiums, some of them with poorly conditioned fields), America certainly has the most talent in the region(at the very least they’re Mexico’s equal). That they had to fight desperately for a 2-2 tie just goes to show how unpredictable international soccer can be “on the day.” Tonight, full credit should go to the U.S. team and coaching staff, which came out with several lineup changes, altered tactics and on-field attitude, and put together they nailed it.
Costa Rica (away) and Honduras (in Chicago) are the two chores facing the U.S. in June before it plays in the Confederations Cup (in a “Group of Death” against Brazil, Italy, and Egypt), and then the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Even four points from those games should put them really close to wrapping up a top-3 finish in the group and the accompanying World Cup ticket.