USA vs. Trinidad & Tobago, World Cup Qualifier: Final Score 2-0 as Pulisic Bags a Brace



It’s been said before and it’ll be said again: Christian Pulisic is good at soccer. The American teenager scored both goals to lead the United States Men’s National Team to an important World Cup qualifying victory over Trinidad & Tobago.

The Borussia Dortmund youngster notched both ends of his brace less than 10 minutes apart in the second half, rescuing the Yanks from a rather uninspired performance in front of a sellout crowd of 19,188 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, CO. It moved the U.S. into third in the Hex pending the outcome of later games, entering the game against rival Mexico on Sunday.

All the scoring may have come after the break, but the first half provided plenty of chances, if not goals. Neither team was particularly sharp with the final ball, but Jan-Michael Williams was forced into more saves than Tim Howard. The U.S. got the first good opportunity in the 10th minute when Jorge Villafana ripped a cross into the area but it was a ‘tweener and Fabian Johnson couldn’t get his foot high enough to direct it on net. Five minutes later, Clint Dempsey took a pass at the top of the box from Johnson and fired just over the bar.

The first Trinidad & Tobago effort came 22 minutes in with Joevin Jones getting into the top left corner of the box but DeAndre Yedlin blocked it.

Center back John Brooks stepped up and ripped a shot from about 25 yards out (yes, really!), forcing a save from Williams in the 25th minute and Jozy Altidore got an opportunity with a one-timer seconds later and Williams again saved. Two minutes later, Christian Pulisic made a long run through the T&T defense and fired just over.

The Soca Warriors sent the first true warning shot at Howard in the 28th minute when Khaleem Hyland scorched a drive just wide of goal. Five minutes later, Kenwyne Jones got behind Brooks but his free header went off the crossbar.

The back-and-forth play continued with a Villafana drive and an Altidore header in the 35th on a strong sequence for the U.S. attack but Williams stopped both. Two minutes later, Darlington Nagbe chipped one in for Altidore at the top of the six-yard box but the Toronto FC striker couldn’t get his header down on an effort that should have produced an opener for the Yanks. Johnson set up Pulisic in the 39th but the teenager’s shot deflected just wide off defender Daneil Cyrus.

Hyland blasted one through Geoff Cameron’s legs in the 42nd minute that Howard picked up late but he got down in time to make the save.

The USMNT had a shout at the ref in the 45th after Johnson was upended just above the box. The U.S. had possession but kind of stopped, expecting the free kick in a dangerous area, but the referee played advantage when there really wasn’t one. The end product of that buildup was a weak Dempsey header that was off target.

Former Orlando City midfielder Kevin Molino got the last good opportunity of the opening period, but his header in stoppage time was well off frame.

Following the break, the Soca Warriors put a scare into the Yanks minutes into the second half. Molino fizzed a dangerous cross to the back post but it was just out of the reach of Nathan Lewis at the 51-minute mark. That missed opportunity proved costly for T&T.

Nagbe made an impressive run through the midfield two minutes later and played a combination with Dempsey, getting deep into the penalty area before being cut off. The Timbers’ midfielder laid off for Yedlin, who sent a brilliant diagonal ball to the back post that would have been finished by a sliding Dempsey if a sliding Pulisic hadn’t gotten there first.

Trinidad & Tobago nearly equalized in under a minute. Lewis was offside by a mere shoulder just before he got onto a cross and beat Howard and the Yanks caught a break.

Pulisic kept up his relentless attack, beating the back line on a stop-and-go move in the penalty area before ripping a shot off the near post. A minute later, Williams came off his line to just beat Altidore to a 50/50 ball and then recovered to get a touch on the ball to keep Pulisic from getting in behind him for an easy goal.

Five minutes later, Williams couldn’t stop Pulisic from adding his second of the game. Altidore fed him a scrumptious through ball and Pulisic broke in behind the defense before ripping a laser past Williams to make it 2-0 at the 62-minute mark.

The Soca Warriors didn’t quit, however, throwing some numbers forward to try to get back into the game. Just minutes after the second Pulisic goal, T&T had a good spell of possession and half chances around the U.S. goal, but it was eventually deflected just inches wide of Howard’s back post but the offside flag was up anyway.

From there, the U.S. just had to hold on and see things out, getting forward occasionally to try to add another insurance goal. Second-half sub Kellyn Acosta nearly provided that third goal in the 78th minute on a free kick but Williams made a good save.

T&T’s last decent chance came in the 80th minute when Shahdon Winchester spun at the right side of the box and fired but it was comfortable for Howard.

The final chance of the game came in the 84th minute, when substitute Bobby Wood hit the left post off a nice cross from Alejandro Bedoya at the top of the box. It was a near-miss for the two second-half subs.

The USMNT saw out the remainder of normal time and three minutes of stoppage to secure the three points.

 Next up: A date with Mexico looms at Estadio Azteca on Sunday at 8:30 p.m.


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