The United States men’s national team had a man advantage for a majority of the game but could not find the back of the net until the late stages as they came away with the shutout win over Trinidad and Tobago on Thursday in Austin, Texas, in the first leg of their Concacaf Nations League quarterfinal game.
Head coach Gregg Berhalter, who was missing Christian Pulisic and Tim Weah due to injuries, went with a 4-2-3-1 formation. Antonee Robinson returned to the starting eleven after missing a few games while Tim Ream and Cameron Carter-Vickers worked as a tandem in central defense. Gio Reyna ran things in the attack with Kevin Paredes and Malik Tillman on either side of him, and Folarin Balogun was the lone man up top.
The hosts were in command of the game early on, however, similar to what they experienced in their friendly against Uzbekistan in September, they could not find a way through T and T’s backline comprised of five players.
They did receive a gift from the referee in the 37th minute when he went to his pocket and showed a red card to Noah Powder for his second bookable offense. This time the midfielder brought down Weston McKennie with a horrible tackle from behind.
With the Soca Warriors down to 10 men, this should have opened the floodgates for the U.S. to punish them. However, they did put a shot on target until the 53rd minute of play.
The Americans continued to press for goals and it appeared they would get their chance to break the scoreless deadlock on the hour mark when the referee pointed to the spot for a penalty. However, a review from the video assistant referee overruled the decision on the field.
With the hosts still looking for a goal, they would find inspiration from the bench as Ricardo Pepi came on and finally gave the lead in the 82nd minute. Robinson’s cross from the left side found the PSV man as he got a touch on the ball to guide it past the goalkeeper at his near post.
Robinson would then turn from provider to goal scorer four minutes later as he doubled the U.S. lead. Reyna’s cross was cleared out of the area, but the ball ended up with the left-back as he fired it into the back of the net.
The U.S. grabbed a third in the 89th minute when Reyna played the ball to Robinson. The Fulham man returned it to Reyna who flicked it to Balogun before getting back again in the area to steer home.
The team will head to Port of Spain next week for the second leg with more questions than answers about this latest performance.