The United States men’s national team booked their place in next year’s Copa America and qualified for the Concacaf Nations League semifinals, but Sergino Dest’s boneheaded sending-off did them no favors as they played with 10 men in their defeat to Trinidad and Tobago in Port of Spain on Monday.
Despite the loss, the U.S. advanced with a 4-2 aggregate scoreline.
Head coach Gregg Berhalter went with a 4-2-2-2 formation, utilizing the same backline from the first leg. Luca de la Torre was slotted into the midfield alongside Yunus Musah as Weston McKennie was sent back to Italy due to a knee injury. Brenden Aaronson got the nod to play on the left wing in the place of Kevin Paredes while Gio Reyna was on the right. Up top, for the first time, both Folarin Balogun and Ricardo Pepi played together at the start.
The game was a bit more open compared to last Friday’s encounter in which the Soca Warriors elected to play deep in their own end, leaving the Americans frustrated. However, they grabbed the opener in the 25th minute when Dest’s cross into the box found Anotnee Robinson who headed it home.
With a comfortable 4-0 aggregate, things went very peculiar 12 minutes later when Dest was shown his first yellow card of the game. Apparently not happy with a non-call by the referee for a previous play, the PSV man took out his frustrations by kicking the ball into the stands. He doubled down immediately after the caution by blowing a kiss to the official which led to a second yellow and an early shower.
Now down to 10 men, Berhalter went to his bench and brought on Joe Scally to provide cover at the back. However, it didn’t take T and T long to expose the American’s disadvantage as they leveled the score in the 43rd minute. Reon Moore ran onto a through ball from Alvin Jones and fired his shot past Matt Turner.
The confidence began to grow in the hosts as thoughts of their 2-1 win on home soil to stop the U.S. from qualifying for the 2018 World Cup probably entered their minds. There may have been a slim chance of them overturning the aggregate, but a victory over one of the top teams in Concacf was certainly on the cards.
Trinidad and Tobago would take the lead in the 57th minute when Jones rifled in a free kick from long range. Turner tried to keep the ball out of the goal, and probably could have done better to make the save, but somehow it ended up in the back of the net.
As the game winded down to its final minutes, it was clear the U.S. was not going to expend anymore energy as they knew qualification for the Nations League semis and Copa America were locked. However, many will question why Dest left his teammates out to dry with such a senseless sending-off.
The U.S. will return to action in March 2024.