Match Report: Trinidad & Tobago 0-0 USMNT

The US Men’s National Team struck the crossbar twice in the second half, but was forced to settle for a 0-0 draw on the road in Port of Spain against Trinidad and Tobago. Though both teams managed isolated periods of energetic attack, a lack of quality meant that neither team showed the cutting edge necessary to break the deadlock.

First Half

After starting slowly against St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the US matched that feat as Trinidad & Tobago cut through a sluggish defense within the first 30 seconds. Fortunately for Jurgen Klinsmann’s side, Joevin Jones failed to make solid contact off of Kenwyne Jones cut back.

With the US struggling to retain possession, Trinidad & Tobago kept the ball moving and the visitors chasing.

Buoyed by the early chance, Kenwyne Jones continued to drive his team forward and, in the 13th minute, did well to shrug off Geoff Cameron. Despite having a good look at Tim Howard’s goal, Jones couldn’t keep his powerful drive on frame, as his effort flew past the near post.

The US was again on the back foot moments later as a low short free kick had them scrambling at the back. Fortunately for the US, Howard was able to do just enough to push the ball away at the near post.

Nearly halfway through the first half, the US began to find the game, especially through Fabian Johnson, who cut in on his right and sent a strong drive into the gut of T&T goalkeeper Jan Michael Williams.

Seconds later, Jozy Altidore did well to use his strength and create his own shot, though his dipping volleyed effort flew just over the cross bar.

Cordell Cato nearly found an opener when he blew past Tim Ream and Matt Besler at the edge of the US box, but with Howard rushing out to challenge, Cato’s off-balance shot rolled harmlessly wide of the far post.

Altidore set up the best US chance of the half when he was played up the left wing in the 29th minute. Spying Gyasi Zardes in behind the defense, Altidore’s left-footed cross was on the money, but Zardes was caught in two minds, unable to choose between a headed finish, or one with his foot.

Second Half

The US started the second half brightly, with Altidore again serving in an inch perfect cross for Zardes in the 47th minute. Unfortunately, just as he had in the first half, Zardes spurned the chance, heading the gilt-edged opportunity off the crossbar.

Besler continued to challenge Williams goal minutes later when he latched onto a curling corner kick from Johnson, skidding his header just over the bar.

Kenwyne Jones nearly found the opener against the run of play at the other end when he looked to have stolen in behind Besler, but the Sporting Kansas City man recovered well, getting a critical touch to keep Jones from running in on Howard.

Against a US backline composed of four centerbacks, the pace of Trinidad & Tobago posed problems on the counterattack. In the 63rd minute, Joevin Jones cut into the US box, looping a cross for Cato. With the goal at his mercy, Cato failed to commit to the header, letting it skid harmlessly away.

At the other end, DeAndre Yedlin laid Zardes in behind in the 68th minute, but for the third time in the match, the striker’s final touch was lacking, and he shanked his shot badly.

With Trinidad & Tobago settling into a defensive shell in the final quarter of an hour, Jermaine Jones unleashed a long distance rocket. Unfortunately for the US, Williams reacted quickly and managed the slightest touch, pushing the ball onto crossbar for the second time in the half.

The US returns to CONCACAF qualification for the 2018 World Cup on the road against Guatemala on March 25.

USA: 12-Tim Howard, 16-Michael Orozco, 20-Geoff Cameron, 5-Matt Besler, 3-Tim Ream (6-Darlington Nagbe, 68), 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 13-Jermaine Jones, 4-Michael Bradley (capt.), 23-Fabian Johnson, 9-Gyasi Zardes (18-Bobby Wood, 76), 17-Jozy Altidore
Subs Not Used: 1-Brad Guzan, 7-Miguel Ibarra, 8-Jordan Morris, 10-Mix Diskerud, 11-Brek Shea, 14-Matt Miazga, 15-Kyle Beckerman, 19-Ventura Alvarado, 21-Alan Gordon, 22-Bill Hamid
Head Coach:
Jurgen Klinsmann

TRI: 21-Jan-Michael Williams, 4-Sheldon Bateau, 5-Daniel Cyrus, 17-Mekeli Williams (16-Justin Hoyte, 76), 6-Radanfah Abu Bakr, 19-Kevan George, 8-Khaleem Hyland, 3-Joevin Jones, 14-Andre Boucaud (20-Heron Cummings, 82), 13-Cordell Cato (11-Trevin Caesar, 85), 9-Kenwyne Jones (capt.)
Subs Not Used: 1-Marvin Phillip, 10-Willis Plaza, 15-Neveal Hackshaw, 23-Lester Peltier, 7-Johnathan Glenn, 2-David Aubrey, 12-Carlyle Mitchell, 18-Yohance Marshall
Head coach:
Stephen Hart

Stats Summary: USA / TRI
Shots: 7 / 10
Shots on Goal: 2 / 4
Saves: 4 / 2
Corner Kicks: 7 / 2
Fouls: 12 / 12
Offside: 3 / 1

Misconduct Summary:
USA – DeAndre Yedlin (caution) 45+1st minute
USA – Jermaine Jones (caution) 49

Referee: Cesar Ramos (MEX)
Assistant Referee 1: Miguel Hernandez (MEX)
Assistant Referee 2: Juan Joel Rangel (MEX)
Fourth Official: Oscar Macias (MEX)


  1. THE POSITIVE: (1.) They grew into the game so I will mostly ignore the first half which had me thinking ‘oh my’ we are just not at all good. (1a.) Fabian Johnson and Darlington Nagbe are the solution on the left for years and years and years to come. Nagbe symbolizes the prototype of the emerging (i hope) US player. Highly technical. Thinking presently and into the near future. Constantly in motion – capable of delivering the bovine gutting ball and providing suitable outlets in nearly every instance… It was SO refreshing to see Bradley on the ball and Nagbe constantly 6 to 8 meters away on angle always at suitable space and with intent. I just sat and shook my head ‘yes’ this kid gets it. This is how the game is meant to be played…. More Nagbe. Then I think…..more Zalelem… too while your at it JK. Give him a call up with the men and start vetting him more regularly. I watch a lot of the U-20 team and he is head and shoulders above the rest of the guys on his team.
    (1b.) Everytime the camera panned into the Trinidad and Tobago fans, I saw 1 to 3 drop dead beautiful women. Made me pine for the Caribbean.
    THE NOT-SO POSITIVE: (1.) Can we please focus on first touch at the Academy level… so often any momentum we generate is lost with sub-poor first touch… Zardes and Yedlin terrible offenders over and over again. (1a.) Can we please stop dropping so deep off the ball. Can we please learn to offer organized defensive pressure. Can we please stop looking like individuals without a clear plan when out of possession. Can we please build our National identity from defensive pressure….. after all it is pretty much our role in the world whether for right or wrong…Defender…. with an Service outfit capable of quick deadly strikes and counterstrikes at a moments notice.
    Let’s embrace the superior athleticism we bring but with clear purpose. Let’s LEARN how to defend as a unit cause we don’t (at all)…. coordinated pressure pressure pressure that forces the other team to make mistakes…. sit back and bunker against the best teams in the world. All that to say…. it is a Goddamn shame we are incapable of routing T&T…. I don’t care what the history of the match up says. They are not good and we should run them over.
    I went from despondent for the first 63 minutes to enjoy the game from 64:45 to 65:15 when we looked like we had an idea and then thoroughly enjoyed watching what Nagbe is capable of producing. JK more Darlington. Call up Zalelem and get him in in place of DeAndre Yedlin who should only EVER touch the field as a specific change of pace run behind the tired other team…. there is NO WAY anyone will every convince me Yedlin at 22 offers more than Zalelem at 18. Good night.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Well, JK doesn’t have principled objections to calling in teenagers, we know from other call-ups.
      The thing I do not know is how much pace Zelalem brings.
      When you have world class pace available to you, I can easily understand not giving up on it. And we can know little of the interior chemistry of the group as we are not in the group.
      JK has time. And his final goal is, and should be, the step beyond winning the hexagon. He must start building now for what he anticipates 2018 to be, while advancing from the group, and then from the hexagon during construction. If Zelalem’s long-term development as the kind of player you describe would be deflected by learning how JK feels he must play in 2018, perhaps because there is not enough depth and skill to surround Zelalem with the necessary complementary team, then do not deflect him and earmark him for 2022. A coach thinks in such timeframes infrequently, but planning for such timeframes remains important, even as said coach scheme to win the next match.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Good stuff OSC.
        Yedlin may be the fastest NT player ever so Zalelem cannot compete there but I rarely really ever see him use his speed properly anyhow… mostly to track back and cover for his typical poor touch… and certainly not at all when on touch line and the ample opportunity presents to show the run for the through or over top ball from Bradley or Altidore when he is checking back which happened a lot tonight even turning with the ball.
        His game IQ is really checkers to a guy like Zalelem’s Scotch Opening Chess brain…who offers plenty by way of deft touch, positive touch and footspeed to be effective. Yedlin isn’t 1/3 the player yet he keeps going out there and showing very little…

    • +1 Nagbe. I was very impressed again. I actually thought Zardes first touch (while not great) was way better than Jozy. Every time he tries to hold up play facing his own half he receives the ball 5-6 yards backwards. Every time! Maybe he’s just got too much muscle on those tree trunks, but man, the defenders must feel like they’re playing wall ball when they look to him as the outlet. Zardes at least does a decent job of keeping the ball within reach in the hold-up role.

  2. Let’s face it, the highlight of the day came during the second half of the El Salvador – Canada game when the announcers spent most of their time talking about the referee – some guy from New Jersey. What was his name? Oh year, Mark Geiger. Like I told my wife when she got home from shopping, “I don’t care who wins, I just want to watch the ref.”

  3. Musings:
    – I stand by my comment on Ream on the lead-up article. He is not the answer at leftback. He is a decent defender but he does not have the pace for the international level. Too often he was left in the dust.
    – Zardes is such a hot/cold finisher. I can see why JK keeps him on the wing.
    – Orozco is a decent defensive option when going up against a team the US will likely concede possession to but does not offer enough going forward at outside back.
    – Yedlin in the midfield is a blunt object. He doesn’t contribute much to the build up and is only really effective at making runs over the top. He should be exclusively played at rightback unless the US is chasing the game.
    – Jozy was solid on the night. No goal but his work rate and service was on point.
    – The Jones-Bradley pairing needs to be moved on from. I like Jones’ grit and combative nature but as I commented on the lead-up article, I think Bradley can hold down the middle enough on his own, at least against most CONCACAF opponents, and that would give the opportunity to bring on more craft such as Nagbe or Mix.
    – The Besler/Cameron pairing works for me. If held consistent for a run of games I think they can grow to work well together and they are both comfortable passing out of the back.
    – I really like Fabian at left midfield but without a real answer at leftback I think that position is where he can help the team most.

    • ‘He’s a blunt object in the midfield’, well said, and an undisciplined defender on the back line as evidenced by multiple games I watched him play in Seattle.
      I just don’t get it.
      DeAndre Yedlin is not a good player, not even close to a NT talent…. and Ian Dark or Phil Schoen say the same thing every game…”speed kills”…. then the color guy says, “yeah but when you aren’t good pure linear speed doesn’t matter.”
      Willie Gault, with his blazing world class track speed in the 80’s was at least capable of catching the NFL forward pass. Yedlin does nothing well enough on the field for which his speed is a meritorious argument to give him 70-90 minutes.
      Literally stands and watches the ball with no forethought on how to affect play. My bias is confirmational.

      • I have caught a few of his games at Sunderland this season and I think he is getting better at defending.
        I still think he is the answer at rightback for the US, especially when playing next to a veteran centerback like Cameron in the short term, but he is a one-trick pony in midfield.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Hmm. I will grant you improvement as Sunderland is a team I tend not to watch and your commentary is typically quite astute feif.
        Taking it a step further then… do you find it interesting that JK continues to play him in midfield when he is seeing time in BPL at OB…. if he is capable of getting better as a defender then I can acquiesce his pure speed on overlap with a better RM tucking in.

      • JK starting him in the midfield is a poor decision to me. I could understand bringing him off the bench late or pushing him forward late in a game when looking for a goal but not starting him there.
        I think JK was playing for a draw the whole way against TnT. He started four centerbacks on the backline, two more defensive midfielders in the center, a rightback at right midfield, and a left midfielder who is a capable outside back himself. The plan was likely to go for a draw away from home with the hope of getting lucky on a set piece or counterattack.

      • Hoping for a draw away against T&T.
        I guess it is sound…as only goal is advancement but jeeze…as per my arguments yesterday… I would gladly exchange advancing to WC 18 for true NT growth with a defined vision plan and instituted philosophy. There is go again with vision philosophy and plan.

      • let me reinterate regarding Yedlin…. not even close to a NT first team player.
        He should still be earning his right to wear the colors with that shit show at U23.

      • I concur with the empty silence after reading that first line about hoping for a draw.
        Maybe Santa will bring us that proactive soccer this year…

      • “My bias is confirmational.” I’d buy that T-shirt in a heartbeat!

  4. I was sorely disappointed in the performance. Granted JK pretty much flat out said he wanted a draw. A draw is not terrible, but I feel against T&T (all respect to them) we should look for a win.
    -Once again mixing up the back four. Tim Ream does not give you much going forward and seems to get beat on occasion, but I can’t think of a better replacement (I don’t want Fabian at LB) and honestly Jones/Bradley’s poor spacing with the back line has as much to do with it as he does.
    -Jones should not be starting…period.
    -I was chanting Nagbe continuously at the TV from the start of the second half. He should absolutely be getting more time. He is always there for an outlet pass, touch is great, and he is the making ambitious open-the-defense passes on the ground (instead of lofted *cough*bradley*cough*)and he getting back in defense. I don’t know what more you could ask.
    -Josy needs better fitness or something, he just disappears from matches after being involved early on. And I feel his touch is lacking, he’s able to cover it and maintain possession most of the time, but instead of taking him into dangerous space, he sort of takes himself out of it.
    -Zardes looked pretty bad, touch seemingly always letting him down, and absolutely should have put that header in the back of the net.
    -Bradley again seemed off, giving the ball away a lot. Nagbe seemed to get better play out of him though.
    -Yedlin. I really feel like he should be at RB. It’s hard to say if he’s improved defensively (haven’t watched any Sunderland games), but he gives you an offensive option from OB and if you’re not putting Fabian at OB (which I prefer), then you need someone there to provide offense. He really needs to grow in both aspects, but if he’s going to play it shouldn’t be in midfield. We have too many better options for midfield.
    -Cameron/Besler; no real issues with the pairing. Seem to play well enough.
    Watched the first half of the Canada/El Salvador and felt bad for all involved, though no particularly egregious calls were made . Did Geiger get going in the 2nd?

  5. Why didn’t Bobby Wood get the start? That is the question I want answered. I am not saying that because he’s the next coming, but moreso due to his form of late as compared to Zardes.

  6. As I just watched the the replay of this game last night not impressed at all with most of this team at any level. However, with the personal being put on this team I think there should be a massive change in formation. 3-5-2 This is looking forward to 2018 and I say we work this starting lineup now. So, there may not be some of the older players as I do not think them necessary anymore. Keeper is obviously Howard(1) or Guzan(2) I don’t think there are arguments there. I say back three for this reason Ream is a solid defender and is calm on the ball but as was said has no pace to deal with top flight speed. Ream LCB. CB Besler organizes the defense is still young and is solid both in athleticism and positioning. RCB John Brooks now I go back and forth on this position a lot. I like Miazga as well, Cameron is the most solid player but at World cup time he is 33 Orozco is option 2 to me but he is 32 at world cup time. So that means starting back 3 Ream Besler Brooks – Back ups Orozco Miazga Cameron. Emergency call ups – Birnbaum, Hedges, Shane O’Neil. All these players seem to offer the strength in defense first oriented.
    The middle should be offered as the 5 in a 1-4 lineup. Bradley is the one as I want him on the ball but as a distributor not this attacking presence the JK wants him to try to be. Out wide left you have Fabian Johnson no argument here as we all know he is one of the best US players and can track back. LCM Darlington Nagbe as I think he is just better centrally and moves and can interchange well. Gives flexibility to Johnson as well. On the right is where I see more problems. RCM Zalelem while I haven’t seen much of him all I hear is he is by far heads and shoulders above everyone he has played with. Put him next to Nagbe and lets see what kind of creativity we can get. Wide right while I don’t think he has been playing well lately it say Zardes he needs to stay on the touch line gives him more time on the ball his cross is not bad and he can get behind and learn to interchange with Zalelem. Backups Mix, Yedlin, Bedoya, Morales, Kitchen, Julian Green, Danny Williams (if he can turn things around). Emergency call ups – Will Trapp, Luis Gil, Rubio Rubin.

    Up top simple to me: Altidore never impresses me and Dempsey is to old. I think the pairing when Healthy should be Johannsson and Bobby Wood Back ups: Altidore and most in form striker that year. Emergency call ups – Dempsey, Aguedelo

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