The first leg of the Nations League quarterfinals was a slog for the US. Trinidad and Tobago held the USMNT scoreless for the first 80 minutes despite picking up a red card in the first half. The dam eventually broke, and the US was able to pull out a 3-0 win.

The scene now shifts to Trinidad & Tobago for the second leg. This is the first time the US has been to Trinidad since the calamitous defeat in October of 2017. That infamously led to the USMNT missing the World Cup in Russia in 2018. Fittingly, this game is an opportunity for the US to secure qualification for another massive international tournament. By advancing to the Nations League semifinals, the United States earns qualification for Copa America 2024.

First leg recap

The US has typically breezed through home games in the early rounds of the Nations League. 2019 saw them beat Cuba 7-0 and Canada 4-1. 2022 saw a 6-0 win over Grenada. But the US labored mightily against the Socca Warriors on Thursday night.

The first half was so dreadful. The only highlight US Soccer included in its recap was Noah Powder’s red card. Trinidad & Tobago played the majority of the game with fewer players.

The second half was better. Still, it was not great from the US. Things started looking dicey until the talent of the US finally broke through. In the 80th minute, Ricardo Pepi flicked home from six yards out to give the US a 1-0 lead. Four minutes later, Antonee Robinson doubled the lead with a blast from 20 yards out. Three minutes after that, Gio Reyna rounded out the scoresheet. The Borussia Dortmund star scored his third goal in the last two USMNT matches.

USA win allows preview of another important game against Trinidad and Tobago

While it may have been a frustrating watch for the 19,850 fans in Austin, the result is what mattered. In a two-leg Nations League quarterfinal tie, it was especially important for the US to win by multiple goals.

Now, all the US needs to do to officially book their spot at the Copa America next summer is to not turn in a shambolic performance down in Trinidad. That may sound all too familiar to USMNT fans.

Christian Pulisic scored the only goal when the USMNT lost to Trinidad & Tobago in 2017 to miss the 2018 World Cup.
Christian Pulisic scored the only goal when the USMNT lost to Trinidad & Tobago in 2017 to miss the 2018 World Cup.

Christian Pulisic scored the only goal when the USMNT lost to Trinidad & Tobago in 2017 to miss the 2018 World Cup.

In October of 2017, all the US needed to do to qualify for the World Cup was not turn in a shambolic performance in Trinidad. The 2-1 loss, coupled with results elsewhere in the Hex, eliminated the United States from World Cup qualifying. That brought heavy change to the soccer scene in the United States as it was the first time the USMNT failed to qualify since 1986.

Gregg Berhalter and the US players have repeatedly said that the goal for this World Cup cycle is to change American soccer forever. A good showing at the Copa America next summer would go a long way towards accomplishing that goal. But they have to get there first. And to do so requires Gregg Berhalter to do well in a true road game, which he has historically not done (a 2-5-5 record in true road games).

Game information

While the last trip to Trinidad for the US was to Couva, this one is to the capital Port of Spain and the Hasely Crawford Stadium. The United States has not won a game there since a World Cup Qualifier in September of 2009.

Monday’s game is set for a 7 p.m. ET kickoff. The game will air on TNT in English and NBC Universo in Spanish.