The Copa America is on the horizon for the USA when it takes on Trinidad and Tobago. Like the 2016 edition, next year’s tournament is in the United States. Unlike the 2016 edition, the USMNT does not qualify automatically as the host. The six guest nations from CONCACAF must qualify through the Nations League.

The path to the Copa America for the USMNT through the Nations League goes through a familiar opponent. It is the same opponent who kept the US out of the 2018 World Cup in Russia: Trinidad & Tobago.

US roster shakeup for Nations League quarterfinals

While the Copa America is on the horizon, Gregg Berhalter has wisely decided to leave out several key US players who are nursing injuries suffered on club duty. Christian Pulisic and Tim Weah have both been left in Italy after sustaining small injuries with AC Milan and Juventus, respectively. Johnny Cardoso of Brazilian club Internacional also withdrew after being called into camp.

The rest of the squad is about as full-strength as expected. The trio of Matt Turner, Ethan Horvath and Gaga Slonina are in goal. The back line is anchored by 36-year-old Tim Ream as well as his Fulham cohort Antonee Robinson, in addition to Sergiño Dest, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Joe Scally.

The midfield sees Gio Reyna back in the camp after a successful pair of games in October. Also included are Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah, Luca de la Torre and Paxten Aaronson. The strike force up front includes Breden Aaronson, Ricardo Pepi, Folarin Balogun and Alejandro Zendejas.

Pulisic and Weah are mainstays in the USMNT lineup, but they will not feature against Trinidad and Tobago.

USA seeks revenge against Trinidad and Tobago

One thing the US has done very well since that fateful 2017 night in Couva is to obliterate the Socca Warriors every time they play them. The two teams have met three times. The US has won all of them.

First was a 6-0 win during the 2019 Gold Cup in Cleveland. Then was a 2021 friendly in Orlando which the US won 7-0. And then most recently was a Gold Cup game this past summer in Charlotte, which was another resounding 6-0 win. They will need two more similar performances to be sure to book their spot at next summer’s Copa America.

Scouting the opposition

This summer’s Gold Cup was not the greatest for the Socca Warriors. They finished third in Group A with three points out of a possible nine. They won their opener 3-0 against St. Kitts & Nevis but dropped their next two: 4-1 to Jamaica and of course, 6-0 to the US.

Trinidad & Tobago earned their spot in the Nations League A quarterfinals by finishing as the runner-up in Group A with nine out of twelve points (just one behind Panama with ten).

The roster called in by manager Angus Eve features several players who ply their trades at US clubs. Defender Shannon Gomez plays for San Antonio FC while the midfield includes Oakland Roots man Neveal Hackshaw and former Memphis 901 FC midfielder Duane Muckette. Up top is Miami FC man Ryan Telfer and perhaps most excitingly is 19-year-old Kaile Auvray of Sporting Kansas City II in MLS Next Pro who represented the US U17 team in 2020.

Notes

  1. The US/Trinidad & Tobago game is set for a 9 p.m. ET kickoff on TNT in English and Telemundo in Spanish.
  2. The game will be played at Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas. This will be the fourth USMNT game at Q2 Stadium (all competitive fixtures) since the venue opened in 2021.

PHOTOS: IMAGO