The United States trails Trinidad & Tobago 2-0 at halftime, but remains in one of CONCACAF’s three automatic qualifying spots thanks to results in other games. Mexico leads Honduras 2-1 and Costa Rica leads Panama 1-0 at halftime. As long as both Panama and Honduras don’t come back to win their games, the U.S. would be at least assured a spot in a World Cup qualifying playoff.
Clint Dempsey has entered the match for Paul Arriola at halftime.
Three Big Storylines:
- With their emphatic 4-0 win on Friday over Panama, the USMNT is in position to automatically qualify for Russia with a win or a draw. A loss and it gets tricky. With a loss the United States could automatically advance, advance to the playoff against Australia, or be eliminated, depending on other results. To be knocked out, both Honduras and Panama would have to win. Each team has a home game against teams that have already punched their ticket to Russia and might not have an incentive to play their best squads; to that effect, Mexico has already allowed Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez to leave the squad for personal reasons. Honduras hosts Mexico, while Costa Rica will travel to Panama. The USMNT is sitting on 12 points, while Panama and Honduras each have 10. Panama (-2 goal differential) currently holds the tiebreaker over Honduras (-7 GD) coming into today’s final round of games in the Hex.
- Field conditions are going to be a big talking point. When the USMNT arrived on Monday for training, the track around the field was entirely flooded and water started to submerge the corner flags as well. Will that lead to a more pragmatic lineup by manager Bruce Arena? Christian Pulisic was unguardable in his 57 minutes on Friday, scoring the opener and providing the assist to Jozy Altidore on the second goal, but as has been the case in CONCACAF play Pulisic was repeatedly fouled hard, late and off the ball by Panama, leading to his 57th minute sub and a limp off the field with a calf injury. The early substitution did give Pulisic the time to show off his massive new American flag with bald eagle tattoo. With a slower field and sloppier conditions, look for Arena to partner Michael Bradley with another holding midfielder, and maybe the appearance of a savvy veteran such as Clint Dempsey to take advantage of potential field-induced chaos around the box.
- The last time that the USMNT waited until the last day of qualifying to secure their spot in the World Cup was for Italia90. It was 28 years ago in Port of Spain, Trinidad. A stadium with a listed capacity of 35,000 was rumored to harbor 60,000 fans hoping to see Trinidad and Tobago make their first World Cup with a win or draw against the underdog USMNT. Paul Caligiuri had other ideas. His 30th minute goal has gone down in lore as “the shot heard round the world” and propelled the USMNT to a 1-0 victory and their first World Cup since 1950. Back then ESPN televised the game with a young mullet-wearing broadcaster named John Paul Dellacamera on the call (the full game is on YouTube). T&T are unable to qualify for next year’s World Cup, but you can bet they would love to get revenge for that game and knock out the Americans.
From a Sounders Point of View:
Nicolas Lodeiro - Uruguay are essentially qualified for Russia. Uruguay host an already eliminated Bolivia and need only one point to secure their spot. Even a loss would see Uruguay advance to the World Cup unless Chile wins in Brazil, Colombia wins in Peru AND Argentina wins in Ecuador AND overturns a nine-goal differential. Conversely, Peru could beat Colombia, but they would also have to overturn a nine-goal differential as well. Lodeiro was an unused substitute in Uruguay’s 0-0 draw at Venezuela last Thursday.
Gustav Svensson - Sweden are on 19 points in Group A of UEFA’s qualifiers, good for second place. France is above them with 20 points and the Netherlands are in third on 16 points, but with a goal differential of +7 compared to Sweden’s +19. Sweden travel to the Netherlands at 11:45 AM today. Anything better than a 7-0 loss will see Sweden advance to the UEFA playoffs. Should France fail to defeat Belarus at home today in Stade de France, Sweden could pass them and automatically qualify with a win. The UEFA playoff draw is next Tuesday, October 17th, with the pots seeded according to the updated FIFA rankings that will come out on Monday. Svensson was an unused substitution in Sweden’s 8-0 win over Luxembourg on Saturday.
Nouhou - Cameroon travel to Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola, Zambia on Wednesday. Both Cameroon and Zambia have been eliminated from World Cup contention as Nigeria have already won their group. Nouhou was an unused substitute in Cameroon’s 2-0 win over Algeria on Saturday.
Clint Dempsey - USMNT vs Trinidad and Tobago. Dempsey needs one goal to become the USMNT’s all time leading scorer as he is currently tied with Landon Donovan on 57 goals apiece.
Joevin Jones - Trinidad and Tobago vs USA. Jones entered as a 73rd minute substitute in T&T’s 1-3 loss at Mexico on Friday.
Roman Torres - Panama hosts an already qualified Costa Rica on Tuesday. Panama and Honduras are tied on 10 points apiece with one game to play for fourth place and a playoff spot against Australia for a spot in Russia. Panama are on a -2 goal differential while Honduras are on -7 as they host an already qualified Mexico team. All three final CONCACAF matches will be played concurrently today.
National TV Listings:
USMNT v Trinidad and Tobago
Date/Time: Tuesday, 5:00 PM PT
Location: Ato Boldon Stadium - Couva, Trinidad
TV: beIN Sports, NBC Universo
Because it is always asked in the comments, the home team controls the television rights and start times for these games. beIN Sports acquired the rights to all federations other than USA and Mexico for the Hex. If you have DIRECTV, (or are at a bar, since most bars have DIRECTV), beIN Sports is channel 620. If you have an iOS or Android smartphone, the game is also available on the free go90 app.
beIN TV coverage will feature Kevin Egan, Carlos Bocanegra, Jonathan Spector, Diego Forlan and Cobi Jones.
Panama v Costa Rica & Honduras v Mexico will have concurrent kickoffs as the USMNT. beIN Sports owns the rights to all three games. They will have live updates during the USMNT broadcast.
This is your Sounder at Heart USMNT versus Trinidad and Tobago World Cup Qualifying gamethread. Watch with us.