USA vs. Trinidad & Tobago, 2019 Gold Cup: Final Score 6-0 as Yanks Destroy Soca Warriors



It took the United States Men’s National Team a while to get going, but when the shots started going in, they did so by the bucket load. Christian Pulisic set up two goals and scored one himself, while Gyasi Zardes and Aaron Long each notched a brace to lead the USMNT to a 6-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago in Gold Cup action at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.

With the win, the U.S. clinched a spot in the knockout stages and all that remains is to see who wins Group D. That will be decided Wednesday in Kansas City when the USMNT plays Panama. Trinidad & Tobago and Guyana

Gregg Berhalter made no changes from Tuesday night’s lineup, which meant that Weston McKennie’s injury wasn’t serious.

The U.S. got the first decent look at goal in the fourth minute. Paul Arriola started the sequence on the left with a cross that skipped off of someone in front and through the area. It was sent back into the middle to Tyler Boyd, but he couldn’t quite square himself for the shot and fired just wide of the near post.

T&T got the next opportunity due to sloppy play by the U.S., winning a free kick from about 30 yards out in front of goal. Alvin Jones went for goal and sizzled a ball just over Zack Steffen’s crossbar in the seventh minute.

The game pace picked up at the 10-minute mark. A U.S. attack up the right ended up with Boyd sending in a cross just inches over Zardes’ head. Khaleem Hyland beat Tim Ream to a loose ball on the ensuing T&T counter attack and Steffen parried his shot away. The USMNT broke back the other way and Boyd saw his shot blocked at the top of the area.

Another Boyd cross in the 13th minute deflected off traffic in front and went just wide but Arriola was called for a push on the play anyway. A minute later, Christian Pulisic sent either a shot or a cross wide.

Hyland picked up a knock and had to come off in the 17th minute, replaced by former Orlando City star Kevin Molino.

Trinidad & Tobago goalkeeper Marvin Phillip prevented the opening goal from happening in the 34th minute. Michael Bradley picked out McKennie on the right and the young midfielder sent a gorgeous ball across for Zardes. The Columbus Crew striker was at a poor angle and headed a square ball back for Arriola, but he couldn’t make good contact with it and Phillips was there to smother it.

Two minutes later, Jones sent a free kick agonizingly close to a few teammates in front of goal but the delivery skipped out for a goal kick.

The U.S. finally broke through in the 41st minute. Jones pulled down Pulisic just outside the penalty area to concede a free kick. Pulisic took the attempt himself but hit the wall with his effort. The ball eventually was poked back out to Pulisic on the left by McKennie and the recent Chelsea transfer sent a perfect back-post ball for Long to get onto. Long put enough power on his header to get it through Phillip and into the net for a 1-0 U.S. lead.

That was the last dangerous opportunity of the half and the U.S. took a narrow 1-0 lead into the locker room.

T&T got the first good opportunity of the second period. Levi Garcia got on the ball and fired a shot that Long got a piece of and it was knocked behind for a corner kick. Leston Paul fired wide after the corner was cleared just outside the area.

The U.S. came back two minutes later when McKennie played a superb ball between the defenders for Arriola to run onto. The D.C. United attacker fired just wide and the lead remained at just one goal. Arriola then tried a spectacular volley attempt after Zardes and Long did well to win the ball in the corner but the shot sailed off frame. Boyd followed with a shot just wide in the 55th minute.

The USMNT kept the pressure on, with Nick Lima setting up Boyd, only to see Phillip make a good save to keep it out in the 59th minute.

Trinidad & Tobago should have equalized in the 61st minute. The Soca Warriors broke out on a lightning counter after a U.S. corner kick and Jones sent a cross to Garcia, who was all alone on the left side. He teed up a shot after dribbling to the top of the area but fired wide. Four minutes later, Steffen made a diving save to deny Molino’s blast from just outside the area.

The Yanks got back on the front foot after that, with Pulisic making an outstanding cross for Arriola but the shot attempt from just three yards out was denied by another great reaction save from Phillip.

The dam finally broke in the 66th minute. Michael Bradley dropped a dime on a chip pass onto Lima’s head . The right back headed a cross back through the area, just out of the reach of a T&T defender, for Zardes to tap in for the 2-0 lead.

After Jones forced another good save from Steffen on a long-distance set piece, with a swerving laser shot, the U.S. struck again through Zardes. This time Pulisic drove toward the top of the area and drew the attention to every defender in the neighborhood. That left Zardes open. Pulisic delivered the ball and Zardes curled his shot past Phillip and inside the back post for a 3-0 lead in the 69th minute.

That goal truly opened the floodgates, as the T&T defense was completely out of gas and grasping at shadows for the rest of the match and the U.S. punished the Soca Warriors repeatedly. The final score could have looked much more like the USWNT against Thailand had it not been for several outstanding saves from Phillip and several near-misses by the U.S.

Zardes had two golden opportunities to complete his hat trick in the 71st but missed them both. First, Arriola took an outlet from Pulisic to go 2-v-1 and sent a cross for Zardes, who fired off the woodwork. The ball was sent back across, providing a free header opportunity, but Zardes left his shot too close to Phillip, who made another great save to deny the hat trick again.

Two minutes later, Pulisic finally got his goal. Second-half sub Jordan Morris tried to make his way up the right side of the penalty area but was cut off. he cut back to his left and found Pulisic, who quickly slipped his shot into the net for a 4-0 lead in the 73rd minute.

Zardes subbed off a minute later for Jozy Altidore and four minutes later it was 5-0. Altidore flicked a ball backward to an onrushing Morris, who fizzed the ball across the six to Arriola for a tap-in.

After Arriola hit the crossbar with a right-footed effort in the 85th minute, Long completed his brace in the 90th. Substitute Reggie Cannon picked out McKennie in the box and the midfielder fired a shot that Phillip fought off. It fell to Long, who put it back in for the final tally.

Although this game can’t erase the memory of the World Cup qualifying loss in Trinidad a couple of years ago, it’s fair to say the USMNT exorcised some demons with the victory. It was perhaps the most free-flowing — and beautiful — soccer yet seen since Berhalter took over as head coach. With Pulisic on his game, combined with the movement of Boyd, McKennie, and Arriola, chance creation wasn’t a problem. It’s a match that should give the Yanks some confidence heading into the tougher matches that lie ahead in the competition.

The U.S. will conclude group play on Wednesday night against Panama at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, KN, at 9 p.m. ET.


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