Back in 2016, the United States’ first two World Cup qualifiers CONCACAF’s Hexagonal left them at the bottom of the standings with zero points.
With other results of the fifth matchday still pending, Bruce Arena and the USA are back in the top half of the standings thanks to a brace from Christian Pulisic and a 2-0 victory over Trinidad and Tobago from Colorado.
The game could’ve started with a booking just two minutes in as T&T midfielder Khaleem Hyland hauled down Pulisic at midfield. US defender Geoff Cameron also teetered on a booking for persistent infringement after an early foul.
Both teams had good chances in the first half despite the timid start to the match. A flurry of activity started right after the half hour mark, with Trinidad striker Kenwyne Jones smashing the crossbar in the 33rd minute. Khaleem Hyland fired a neat cross over John Brooks and caught keeper Tim Howard in no mans land but Jones couldn’t keep the shot below the bar.
Two minutes later, Jan-Michael Williams had to make a great double save in the Trinidad goal. First he parried away Jorge Villafana’s long range effort but Williams couldn’t keep Clint Dempsey from coralling the rebound. The US recycled the ball and Villafana sent in a cross to Jozy Altidore only to see his shot tipped over the bar by Williams.
Williams was credited with five saves in the first half on ten total USMNT shots while Howard only had one save on seven total Trinidad shots.
The second half began with the US on the front foot, pressing Trinidad inside their own half, and they capitalized not even ten minutes after the restart. DeAndre Yedlin collected a clearance and fed Darlington Nagbe at midfield. Nagbe turned upfield with a run into the box and played a one-two with Fabian Johnson at the top of the box before holding the ball up for Yedlin who sent in a cross. It was Pulisic’s sliding finish that opened the scoring.
Ten minutes later, it was a simpler but still lethal build up from the Americans. Pulisic recovered a ball in his own third and moved up field, eventually hitting a square pass to an overlapping Yedlin. The US fullback centered for Altidore as Pulisic continued his run, and Jozy’s first time chipped pass found the wonderkid in stride and he slotted his second past Williams.
The win puts the USA at seven points, two points ahead of 4th place Honduras as they play Mexico tonight. The USMNT travels to Estadio Azteca on Sunday to play first place Mexico on the road. The CONCACAF Gold Cup begins July 8th with the USMNT in Group B with Panama, Martinique and Nicaragua.