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Match Report
Trinidad & Tobago United States
T&T flag United States

World Cup Qualifier
DateVenueLocationAttendance
2009-09-09Hasely Crawford StadiumPort-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago12000


U.S. picks up first road win of final round qualifying with 1-0 win in T&T


T&T vs USARicardo Clark’s first career FIFA World Cup qualifying goal in the 62nd minute against Trinidad & Tobago put the U.S. three points closer to qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup with a 1-0 victory in Port of Spain.

After eight games, the U.S. sits in first place of the six-team group with 16 points on the strength of a 5-2-1 record. The U.S. has clinched a top four position, which guarantees at least a playoff with the fifth-place team from South America for a berth in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

In other CONCACAF action on Wednesday night the home teams posted 1-0 victories, with Mexico besting Honduras and El Salvador remaining undefeated at home against Costa Rica. With four consecutive victories, Mexico is now in second place with 15 points. Honduras falls to third with 13 points and Costa Rica has 12 points and is in fourth. El Salvador, with eight points, is still hanging on with a chance of finishing as high as third-place, and Trinidad & Tobago has been eliminated.

There are scenarios in which the U.S. could advance without earning any points over the final two games, however the U.S. controls its own destiny and can clinch a top three position and an automatic berth by earning at least two points from their last two matches. To clinch the position on MatchDay 9 against Honduras, the U.S. would have to equal or exceed the number of points that Costa Rica earns hosting Trinidad & Tobago.

The first chance to clinch a berth will come on Oct 10 when the U.S. travels to San Pedro Sula, Honduras, before returning home to close out the final round on Oct. 14 against Costa Rica in Washington, D.C. Tickets for the match at RFK Stadium go on sale to the general public on Thursday, Sept. 10, 12 p.m. ET.

The win against Trinidad & Tobago was just the third for a road team in the CONCACAF final round of qualifying as the U.S. joins Costa Rica (at Trinidad & Tobago) and Mexico (at Costa Rica) as victors away from home. All told, the home team has posted an 18-3-3 record this year.

The U.S. has scored 14 goals in the final round through eight games, and Landon Donovan has scored two while assisting on another eight including Clark’s game-winner. Donovan also tied Cobi Jones with the U.S. record for the most assists in a year (9).

Also, for the first time since the last two matches of 2005, the U.S. has gone consecutive games avoiding the referee’s book, meaning that the six players who played carrying a yellow card – Jozy Altidore, Carlos Bocanegra, Clark, Clint Dempsey, Donovan and Benny Feilhaber – will be available on Oct. 10 in Honduras.

"For us it was a very important three points,“ said U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bob Bradley. “We felt that it was well earned because tonight was a difficult game. A lot of credit goes to Trinidad & Tobago. I felt they put a great effort out tonight and made it very hard. We spoke at halftime and we understood the game we were in. We felt we could raise the level in the second half and we're pleased with the win.”

The U.S. starting lineup had just two changes from Saturday’s 2-1 victory against El Salvador, with Clark replacing Feilhaber in central midfield and Oguchi Onyewu returning from suspension to replace Chad Marshall and start in the middle of the defense with Bocanegra.

The first chance of a sloppy first half came for the U.S., as Dempsey blasted a free kick wide in the fifth minute, and 15 minutes later Charlie Davies hit a low shot on goal from 20 yards out that was easily stopped by Trinidad & Tobago goalkeeper Clayton Ince.

Trinidad & Tobago adjusted personnel slightly, moving Carlos Edwards to the right wing and it nearly paid immediate dividends. In the 27th minute, Edwards dropped a short pass to Cornell Glen on the right side, and he played a cross to the far post where Kenwyne Jones faded away from Onyewu to head the ball down to the feet of Tim Howard.

Two minutes later, Glen injected himself again as a throw-in on the left wing bounced over Bocanegra, and Glen turned on his marker and chipped Howard, only to have his effort hit the crossbar. Off Trinidad & Tobago’s heart-stopping chance, the U.S. countered with Jonathan Bornstein playing the ball up the left for Donovan. Altidore received the ball from Donovan, and after holding off a defender cracked a 22-yard shot that Ince parried out to his right.

A pair of Trent Noel free kicks from just outside the area were the final two Soca Warrior shots of the half, and each was dangerous after questionable fouls called on Onyewu. In the 37th minute, Howard was called to dive to his right post to push away a shot that almost found the bottom corner, and five minutes later Noel’s effort called on Howard to dive the same way but the ball sailed wide of the post.

In stoppage time of the first half, Donovan and Altidore combined with a slow-developing one-two combination, with Altidore patiently awaiting Donovan to cut into the left side of the area. He played a perfect ball into the space and Donovan’s left-footed shot cut back into Ince’s right leg as the kick save went out of bounds.

The U.S. created its first chance of the second half in the 52nd minute, pushing for a counter-attack after a Trinidad & Tobago corner kick. Edwards’ service was headed down dangerously in the area, but Bornstein cleared and the U.S. found Altidore wide open up on the left wing.  After pushing forward, he tried to find Davies, but the ball bounced off Davies for a goal kick.

Just as Bradley was prepared to go to his bench, the U.S. finally broke through with the goal. Bornstein challenged for a 50-50 throw-in and the ball landed at the feet of Bradley, who took a good first touch and played the ball into space for Dempsey in the middle. Dempsey found Donovan on the left just outside the 18-yard box and as Dempsey and others ran through, he found Clark trailing the play. Clark blasted a 26-yard shot that tailed away from Ince and into the net. Clark became the 15th U.S. player to score a goal this cycle, and the eighth to notch a game-winning goal. He was also the 18th different player to score in 2009, matching the record number of different goal scorers set by the U.S. team in 1993 and 2000.

The U.S. twice had clear chances to increase the margin of victory to two goals for the first time in Trinidad & Tobago, with a Dempsey shot saved by a diving Ince in the 78th minute and in the 89th minute, Donovan redirected a bouncing cross from substitute Stuart Holden just inches over Ince and the crossbar. Holden, who has appeared off the bench in the last three U.S. qualifiers, came on in place of Dempsey in the 82nd minute.

Howard was on task three times down the stretch, first punching away a long-range line-drive off the foot of Edwards in the 64th minute and later scooping up another soft header from Jones. Then, in second-half stoppage time, an Edwards cross deflected off Bornstein’s foot and Howard dove to keep the ball off his left post. Howard earned his sixth shutout in 11 qualifying appearances and his goals against average dropped to 0.73. He also earned career win number 28 to pass Brad Friedel for third place on the all-time list.

The game was the ninth USA-Trinidad & Tobago match played in Port of Spain, and the ninth decided by one goal or less as the U.S. improves to 5-2-2 on the island of Trinidad.

-    United States Men's National Team Match Report    -

Match: United States vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Date: September 9, 2009
Competition: FIFA World Cup Qualifier – Final Round
Venue: Hasely Crawford Stadium – Port of Spain, Trinidad
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Attendance: TBD
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 82 degrees

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

USA - Ricardo Clark (Landon Donovan)        62nd minute

Lineups:
USA: 1-Tim Howard; 2-Jonathan Spector, 5-Oguchi Onyewu, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (capt.), 12-Jonathan Bornstein; 8-Clint Dempsey (7-Stuart Holden, 82), 13-Ricardo Clark, 4-Michael Bradley, 10-Landon Donovan; 9-Charlie Davies (11-Brian Ching, 77), 17-Jozy Altidore (16-Benny Feilhaber, 63)
Subs not used: 6-Steve Cherundolo, 14-Jose Francisco Torres , 15-Chad Marshall, 18-Brad Guzan
Head Coach: Bob Bradley

TRI: 1-Clayton Ince; 11-Carlos Edwards, 3-Radanfa Abu Bakr, 6-Dennis Lawrence (capt.), 4-Jlloyd Samuel; 10-Hayden Tinto (12-Keon Daniel, 66), 2-Clyde Leon, 8-Trent Noel (9-Jason Scotland, 84), 16-Silvio Spann (14-Kerry Baptiste, 72); 13-Cornell Glen, 17-Kenwyne Jones
Subs not used: 5-Keyeno Thomas, 7-Densil Theobald, 15-Lyndon Andrews, 18-Marvin Philip
Head Coach: Russell Latapy

Stats Summary: USA / TRI

Shots: 11 / 10
Shots on Goal: 6 / 4
Saves: 4 / 5
Corner Kicks: 6 / 5
Fouls: 14 / 14
Offside: 3 / 5

Misconduct Summary:

TRI – Jlloyd Samuel (caution)        25th minute

Officials:
Referee: Joel Aguilar (SLV)
Assistant Referee 1: William Torres (SLV)
Assistant Referee 2: Juan Zumba (SLV)
Fourth Official: Elmer Bonilla (SLV)

ussoccer.com Man of the Match
Michael Bradley
Player Ratings: Trinidad & Tobago 0-1 USA
By Zac Lee Rigg (goal.com)


TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO


Clayton Ince 7
Pulled off a handful of top quality saves when his defenders let him down and marked his area well when coming for crosses. Was a bit unfortunate on the goal as the ball whipped through two defenders before curving to the very edge of the net.

Silvio Spann 5
Looked a bit behind the pace when marking the fleet-footed Donovan and didn't overlap into the attack at all. It was a mild, conservative game put out by Spann, and eventually he was taken off for a more attacking option.

Dennis Lawrence 6
The captain didn't have his troops very well organized as the pacy American attackers drifted all through the backline.

Radanfah Abu Bakr 7
Whenever a T&T defender made a crucial last ditch tackle or interception, it was inevitably Abu Bakr. The 22-year-old offered a stern, resolute performance to hold his backline together.

Jlloyd Samuel 4
Didn't look like a Premier League player at all. He overran tackles and let players past him with ease. Picked up a yellow for a studs-up challenge on Spector that, if it had connected, could have drawn red.

Hayden Tinto 6
The diminutive midfielder opened each half brightly. In the first he was the best outlet from the defense and had some joy running at Bornstein. After him and Edwards switched flanks, however, he went silent until the second half. Never managed to create a testing final ball before coming off.

Clyde Leon 6
Buzzed around the middle of the park on both sides of the ball.

Trent Noel 5
Aside from hitting a powerful free kick in the first half which Howard saved, Noel had a very quiet game. He tended to disappear quite a bit, and eventually disappeared to the bench as the Soca Warriors chased the game.

Carlos Edwards 5
When on his preferred right flank he saw much more of the ball. However, he never managed to get into positions to use his pace or trickery. Much more is expected of the winger.

Kenwyne Jones 6

Looked a bit less mobile than usual, only popping up in the box to head chances on net. While his accuracy was fine, his headers lacked the power needed to get his name on the scoresheet.

Cornell Glen 7.5
The first half was all about Glen. The nippy forward tore through the U.S. backline with ease, pulling defenders out of position and creating chances. His curling cross for Jones was the first real chance for the team, and his lob was inches away from opening the scoring. Eventually, though, the remaining image of Glen from this game will be him pounding his fists into the ground like a petulant child as that chance smacked off the post and back into play.

Substitutes

Daniel Keon 5
Offered better free kick delivery upon entering the game, but couldn't create that final chance.

Kerry Baptiste N/A
Jason Scotland N/A

USA

Tim Howard 8.5
The Everton stopper was in exactly the right place for every header put his way. In between the saves that he made look easy he pulled off a few snap reaction blocks to preserve his clean sheet.

Jonathan Spector 6.5
It's telling that whoever switched over to his flank, be it Tinto or Edwards, they all of the sudden became very quiet.

Oguchi Onyewu 5
After not playing for Milan or against El Salvador, Onyewu looked decidedly off pace. He blustered around, using his size to push attackers out of the way, but never looked very comfortable.

Carlos Bocanegra 6
Continued his reinstatement to the center of defense with another clever, organized display.

Jonathan Bornstein 5

Can consider himself quite lucky to have started after his mistake in the El Salvador game, and continued to look shaky. Both Lawrence and Tinto had luck running at him and he was left kicking at scraps.

Clint Dempsey 6
Was crucial to the buildup to the goal and had a few nice touches, but spent large parts of the game performing a defensive shift. He was moved up top late in the match, but couldn't create anything of note and made way for Holden.

Ricardo Clark 7
Something happened to the Dynamo midfielder at halftime. Maybe he realized he didn't have much longer on the pitch after an anonymous first half. Indeed, his replacement was getting dressed when he smashed a violently swerving ball through two defenders and past Ince for the opener. This came after an energetic and tenacious opening minutes to the second half.

Michael Bradley 7
The coach's son was calm and poised in the middle of the park. He kept play moving and intercepted anything that came through the middle. Bradley's play is infinitely better when he can keep his cool, and today was one of those days.

Landon Donovan 8

Let's get the disappointments out of the way: missed two chances in the box that a player of his caliber should really be finishing, was caught offside too much, and his free kick delivery wasn't up to his best. And yet, despite all that, Donovan dominated this game once again, orchestrating every U.S. attack and spraying the ball around like he's been a playmaker all his life. He assisted the goal and created nearly every other good chance the U.S. had.

Charlie Davies 6.5
In the opening of the game, Davies looked to be the only American who wanted a win. He buzzed around defenders and manufactured several half-chances by sheer will and athleticism alone. Perhaps he spent his energy too soon, as he faded from the game, aside from a low blast he should have done better with in the second half. With 15 minutes left in the game he made way for the more possession-oriented Ching.

Jozy Altidore 6.5
This was nowhere near as deadly as the last time he lined up against T&T and scored a hat-trick, but it was a serviceable display from the youngster. He created the best chance the U.S. had in the first half and put a long distance effort on net to test Ince. After the opening goal he made way for Feilhaber.

Substitutes

Benny Feilhaber 6
Looked much brighter on the wings after coming in than he did starting in the middle against El Salvador. His technical ability from deep kept attacks flowing.

Brian Ching N/A

Stuart Holden 6
For the third game in a row, Holden delivered an exquisite ball from the right that should have earned him an assist. Davies, Torres, and now Donovan all owe the youngster an explanation for why they didn't finish the balls he's put on platters for them.
A win isn't just a win for U.S. soccer.
By: Kevin Eubanks (Bakersfield Sports Examiner).


Three points and all was well with the United States, or at least that’s what many in the American media are quick to point out after the Americans’ 1-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago which, with some help from El Salvador, moved the U.S. to the top of the CONCACAF table with just two matches remaining in qualifying.

But it was three points and all wasn’t quite well in Port of Spain, to be honest. It was another sloppy, uninspiring performance from the Americans who were once again just able to pull out one piece of brilliance to edge yet another not-so-great opponent in qualifying.

The best news of the night came from San Salvador where Costa Rica fell 1-0 to El Salvador, giving the Americans some breathing room with two matches remaining in qualifying for FIFA World Cup 2010. But a win might still be necessary to get the U.S. to South Africa and a win isn’t going to come easy in the final two matches of qualifying. First comes a trip to San Pedro Sula where Honduras is 4-0-0 in this cycle of qualifying while outscoring its opponents by a combined 12-2. Then it’s back to Washington D.C. for the final qualifying match against Costa Rica, which might have struggled of late, but did dominate the U.S. in San Jose in January 3-1.

It’s been five matches since the U.S. found this amazing level of mediocrity beginning with that loss at Costa Rica, followed by three 2-1 results – wins against Honduras and El Salvador sandwiched around the 2-1 defeat at Estadio Azteca to Mexico. The latest was Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago in Port of Spain, and while any road victory should be cherished in World Cup qualifying, this was anything but a thing of beauty.

Landon Donovan made sense of the match: "I know people like to look at teams on paper and say, 'This should be an easy win.' These games are not easy anywhere in the world. There are a lot of teams that struggle to get through these games. We played well, we didn't play perfect, but we got the result we needed."

The term “playing well” was an overstatement, but Donovan is right: Traveling in CONCACAF is not easy and the U.S. did get the full three points out of the match. But it was how the U.S. earned the win that was troubling. It was another treacherous opening half-hour allowing the opposition to completely control the match. It has been the American mantra that opposition in CONCACAF come out with high energy before the home crowd, but that excuse is beginning to wear thin, especially when the U.S. gets dominated on home soil in the first 30 minutes of matches.

A quality side can expect that high energy and take the bite out out of the opposition by holding possession and forcing the opponent to chase instead of simply allowing the other team to build momentum by giving the ball away in the midfield time after time. But in the end, that’s the problem with the Americans – they can’t possess the ball. It’s why they haven’t been able to get out to quick starts in World Cup qualifying and it’s why they couldn’t hold a 2-0 lead over Brazil. If you give Brazil an entire half of possession, it’s going to score a lot of goals.

It’s a head-scratcher why Bob Bradley continues to run out Clint Dempsey match after match when he continually loses possession, is the opposite of Donovan when it comes to work rate, and sometimes doesn’t seem to care how the team is fairing. Some might overlook Dempsey’s poor form of late because of a goal here and there, but despite an occasional goal, his production is actually counteractive to the good of the team.

And there were other negatives. Charlie Davies wasn’t his disruptive self up top, Michael Bradley disappeared after a successful first half, Ricardo Clark – despite the goal – was otherwise a non-factor, and it’s becoming clear that Carlos Bocanegra’s better days are behind him.

Focusing on the negatives is something that goalkeeper Tim Howard won’t do: “You get into halftime and all the things that went on in the first half, you try to talk about. You can’t fix every problem but we felt we didn’t play nearly as well as we could have. But we still came in 0-0. That was a positive and we wanted to build on that. We also wanted to reiterate the importance of getting a victory and not letting this one slip.”

Howard might have been the top positive for the U.S. in this match. Along with Oguchi Onyewu, Howard did his best to keep the defense organized, and when it did break down, his vision and reaction were brilliant. Besides his unusually poor performance on set pieces, Donovan was his typical, hard-working self. Jozy Altidore might not be world class yet, but he showed more strength on the ball and ripped a 30-yard blast that T&T goalkeeper Clayton Ince did well to deflect. Even Jonathan Bornstein wasn’t a disaster, something that can always be looked at as a positive.

So it was far from brilliant, but no one will remember how the U.S., or any other team for that matter, gets to South Africa. The goal is to just get there, and the U.S. now has many different scenarios in October to make that happen. In short, any American win or Costa Rica loss ensures the U.S. a spot in South Africa. Even a loss to Honduras and a draw with Costa Rica would get the U.S. through (U.S. would finish with 17 points, Costa Rica could only get to 16 in that scenario).

Obviously, it was a big win for the U.S. on Wednesday and it would take a disaster to not reach the World Cup at this point. But after its performance at the FIFA Confederations Cup last summer, American soccer fans expect – and deserve – a higher level of play from their team.

All is well – for now.

LINEUP
1.Clayton Ince
3.Radanfah Abu Bakr
6.Dennis Lawrence (capt.)
4.Jlloyd Samuel Yellow Card 25 '
11.Carlos Edwards
2.Clyde Leon
8.Subbed outTrent Noel
 Subbed in 84' Jason Scotland
16.Subbed outSilvio Spann
 Subbed in 71' Kerry Baptiste
10.Subbed outHayden Tinto
 Subbed in 66' Keon Daniel
13.Cornell Glen
17.Kenwyne Jones
SUBSTITUTES
12.Keon Daniel
14.Kerry Baptiste
9.Jason Scotland
18.Marvin Phillip
5.Keyeno Thomas
15.Lyndon Andrews
7.Densill Theobald
COACH
 Russell Latapy
SUBSTITUTIONS
66'Subbed outSubbed inKeon Daniel for Hayden Tinto
71'Subbed outSubbed inKerry Baptiste for Silvio Spann
84'Subbed outSubbed inJason Scotland for Trent Noel
YELLOW CARDS
25'Yellow CardJlloyd Samuel