USA Beat Trinidad 2-0: Three Take Aways

CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying
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Editorial (June 10, 2017) – The United States Men’s National Team got a huge win in a must-win game against Trinidad & Tobago on Thursday night. Behind a brace from Christian Pulisic, they won 2-0. Here’s three big talking points I noticed.

USA Beat Trinidad 2-0: Three Take Aways

The first half was frustrating for the Americans. They created a bunch of chances, but had trouble finishing. They got on a roll in the second half and were able to clean things up defensively.

The T&T Tactics Gave Them Trouble But They Adjusted:

At times it was a 3-4-3. At times it was a 5-4-1. Call it what you want, it clogged the middle. Trinidad did everything they could to overwhelm Clint Dempsey and Christian Pulisic. They were hacked at. They were outnumbered. They were forced the play it to the wings. That led to crosses into the box without numbers.

The Americans changed things up at half time. They started moving the ball quickly. They had possession with a purpose. The middle was clogged up, but the wide players cut inside to create offense. That’s what happened on the first goal. Darlington Nagbe got it started when he cut inside, made a great run, and set up DeAndre Yedlin for the primary assist.

They adjusted further by using their speed to cut into space. They did not do that in the first half. They did it in the second half and it led to the second goal with a great pass from Jozy Altidore and run from Pulisic. Trinidad had a great tactical plan and the Yanks adjusted to it as the game went on.

Defensive Marking Issues:

The USMNT was able to get a clean sheet in this game, but they weren’t perfect. John Brooks and Geoff Cameron had several plays where they lost Kenwyn Jones in space. Jones hit the cross bar on a header in the first half. Goalkeeper Tim Howard was forced into making several awkward saves.

You can get away with that at home against a bad team. You cannot risk that on the road against Chicharito Hernandez. Brooks and Cameron have some things to work on before Sunday. The communication between them and Howard will need to be better. Expect Michael Bradley to have a heavier defensive responsibility as well. That should stabilize things to an extent.

Managing The Game For Sunday:

As soon as Pulisic scored his first goal, Arena began the transition from winning tonight to managing for the future. The Americans gradually transitioned to a more conservative attack. They protected a 2-0 lead in the final 20 minutes.

They also got some key players some rest. Clint Dempsey, Fabian Johnson, and Altidore all got subbed out of the match. Their fresh legs will be key for the Sunday game at Mexico. One of those subs also brought on Kellyn Acosta. That shifted the formation and Michael Bradley’s role. Even though the Captain played 90 minutes, it wasn’t a full 100% 90 minutes. He’ll have some energy left over for the Azteca.

They got the win. They padded the goal differential. They also set themselves up well for prepping for the Mexico game.