The USA men’s national team made a big step towards the CONCACAF Nations League semifinals on Thursday night with a win in the quarterfinals. The Americans topped Trinidad and Tobago 3-0 in the first leg. However, Gregg Berhalter’s team did not exactly make it easy.
The USMNT entered the night as heavy favorites against their Caribbean opponents. After all, the Yanks are currently the highest-ranked CONCACAF team by FIFA and played the match at home in Texas. Trinidad and Tobago, on the other hand, is currently ranked 99th by the governing body of the sport. This is the 11th best of all CONCACAF teams.
Despite dominating play, the Americans could not find the back of the net in the opening half. This was even after Noah Powder was sent off for the visitors in the 38th minute of the match. The midfielder initially received a yellow card in the 18th minute for tough tackle. Match referee Oshane Nation then issued Powder a second card 20 minutes later for bringing down midfielder Weston McKennie from behind.
Second-half substitute finally puts USMNT in front
After coming out of the halftime break still scoreless, the Americans thought they won a penalty kick in the 60th minute. Nation initially believed McKennie was fouled inside the opposing box. However, the spot kick was taken away after a VAR review overturned the original decision.
The introduction of Ricardo Pepi and Brenden Aaronson six minutes later provided a much-needed spark for the hosts. The center forward eventually gave the USMNT the lead with just eight minutes remaining on the clock. Defender Antonee Robinson made his way down the left flank and sent a cross towards his teammate. Pepi then put a shot past the goalkeeper with a clever touch with the outside of his boot.
Americans grab two more goals to complete a home victory
Although it took 82 minutes for the Yanks to finally score, they managed to double their lead just four minutes later. Robinson, instead of supplying an assist, scored a goal of his own in the 86th minute. Gio Reyna attempted to send a pass into the middle of the Trinidad and Tobago box. The defender headed the ball straight to Robinson.
The Fulham defender collected possession and hit a rocket into the top corner of the net from 20 yards away. It was just his third-ever senior goal for the national team. The full-back celebrated the stunning strike with a series of acrobatic backflips.
Reyna then finished off the victory with a goal just three minutes later. Robinson was once again at the heart of the attack by first playing a neat ball towards Folarin Balogun. The Monaco forward then sent a short pass with his first touch to Reyna inside the box. Reyna finally placed a perfect shot beyond the outstretched goalkeeper.
The late barrage of goals gives the USMNT a huge 3-0 advantage in the return leg of the tie. Trinidad and Tobago will next host the Yanks on Monday, November 20th to officially determine a place in the CONCACAF Nations League semifinals. The upcoming game is available on TNT and MAX in English, as well as Universo and Peacock Premium in Spanish language.
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