Almost 26 years to the day of Paul Caligiuri’s famous goal at Hasely Crawford Stadium to send the US to World Cup 1990, the two nations met again, and played out an unsatisfying 0-0 draw on Tuesday night. Coming into the match, this was quite clearly the toughest match for the US on paper. A point would not have been a bad result considering the opponent and the form of Jurgen Klinsmann’s men. After the final whistle though, it feels as if the US missed out on a chance to take a stranglehold in Group C after only two games.
Michael Orozco replaced DeAndre Yedlin at right back as Yedlin moved up to right wing, and Gyasi Zardes moved up top paired with Jozy Altidore. Zardes was the focal point of the match, as he had the best chances for either side and once again lacked the finishing touch he did on Friday night. He and Altidore combined very well on multiple occasions, but the Galaxy man’s final touch let him down on at least four occasions, and on two of them he should have scored. Altidore didn’t test Jan-Michael Williams that much, but his link-up play was better than in past performances and that is a key development heading forward, especially for his confidence. Bobby Wood deserved to start, but it seemed the US was missing the finishing of Clint Dempsey tonight, above all else.
Jermaine Jones, despite the knocks he has been taking and the form he had been displaying, was brilliant tonight. It seems whenever he’s just about to fall out of favor due to injury or form, he repays the trust Jurgen Klinsmann shows in him with performances like this, and he was magnificent. The back four tonight was also consistent, especially the tandem of Matt Besler and Geoff Cameron who did well to keep the very dangerous Kenwyne Jones quiet all night. The speed and trickery of and Joevin Jones did seem to trouble the US in spurts, but not enough to raise true alarm. Even Darlington Nagbe showed a little something in a right back cameo with a late tackle.
In the second half, the US finally was able to dominate possession and chain together a few passing moves but once again the finishing let them down. It never felt like the Soca Warriors were being battered, though it did seem like they were conceding possession and hoping to spring a counterattack goal with their speed on the break, but none of those opportunities materialized. It certainly was an improvement on their first half performance where Trinidad were the better side but didn’t carve out any clear cut opportunities outside of maybe the first 20 seconds. Tim Howard was not tested it seemed at all.
In CONCACAF road qualifiers, a point is never a bad result especially in what looked like (and probably will be) the most difficult game of this semifinal qualifying group for the US. But with the few missed chances and Trinidad backing off in the second half, it feels more like two points dropped rather than a point gained. The home-and-home with Guatemala comes next, and the US will be favored in both games quite clearly. The road game will be tough as usual, but if the US displays just a tiny bit more of a cutting edge and brings its finishing boots (or a better finisher), then it doesn’t look like Guatemala will pose serious issues.
Many have disagreed with Jurgen Klinsmann’s assessments that recent performances were good despite the results. To the naked eye, today’s performance was better than the result, although they certainly could have played better. But not every game will be perfect, especially in road CONCACAF qualifiers in the heat and humidity, and Klinsmann will probably take this result and be pleased with it.
The next step is to turn the slightly more positive performances into results. March will be their next chance to do just that.
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