The United States and Trinidad and Tobago meet on Saturday at Cleveland’s FirstEnergy Stadium in both teams’ second match at the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup. Just 20 months removed from the Soca Warriors’ infamous win over the Yanks that kept the USA out of the World Cup, Gregg Berhalter’s men will be focused on producing two wins on the bounce to clinch a spot in the knockout round.
Kickoff is slated for 8 PM ET and the action will be broadcast nationally on FS1.
Although the offense might not have fully clicked and put away as many goals as Berhalter would have liked, a clean sheet and 4-0 victory over Guyana was a solid starting point for the U.S. in the manager’s first competitive match at the helm. Tyler Boyd had a terrific outing on the wing in his second cap, while Zach Steffen produced a solid save in a quiet night between the sticks. The lone negative on the night came when Weston McKennie had to exit the field with just over 15 minutes to play due to a hamstring issue, but, fortunately, it was not as serious as initially feared.
The biggest question is what kind of fire the Stars and Stripes will come out with given the teams’ last encounter, as well and a slow start in their Gold Cup opener. It took Berhalter’s men roughly a half hour to apply any sort of pressure on the Guyana back line and look to take the game by the scruff of the neck. As the game wore on, stale possession started turning into quicker ball movement and runs into space, and the scoring chances followed.
The Soca Warriors will likely produce more scoring chances than Guyana, but their 4-5-1 formation and desire to remain organized and punch on the counter will present a similar type of challenge. They are coming off a disappointing performance in a 2-0 loss to Panama, which leaves them in desperate need of a result. Their first Gold Cup result is the latest in a string of poor showings, as they have failed to win a match since September with friendly losses to Thailand, Iran, Wales, and a scoreless draw with Japan.
If midfielder Kevin Molino’s words are any indication of the collective mindset, they are buoyed by the 2-1 result 20 months ago but are focused on the future, even if the U.S. will be driven by the revenge factor.
“They will come motivated, and come with extra drive to want to win the game because of what happened in the World Cup qualification,” Molino said ahead of Saturday’s showdown. “We want to repeat that. We want to win again and qualify for the next round. Most important is that it’s not about the last result/ It’s about us trying to move forward in the tournament.”
For those who follow Major League Soccer and the USL Championship, there are plenty of familiar faces on the Soca Warriors squad – 10 of the 23-man roster play in the United States. Minnesota United’s Molino, Seattle’s Joevin Jones, and Orlando City backup keeper Greg Ranjitsingh are the three who suit up in the top tier.
The Yanks hold a 18-3-4 overall record against the Soca Warriors and have never lost to them on home soil or in three previous meetings in the Gold Cup. A win on Saturday will secure passage to the knockout round while kicking Trinidad and Tobago out of the tournament in the process.