Despite shutout of T&T, U.S. leaves room for improvement.
Ching, Johnson goals down T&T 2-0, earn quarterfinal berth.
CARSON, Calif. (Saturday, June 9, 2007) -- Brian Ching scored midway through the first half, while his strike partner Eddie Johnson found net shortly after intermission, leading the United States men to a 2-0 decision over Trinidad & Tobago and clinching advancement to the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals with one match remaining in Group B.
The U.S., which closes the opening round Tuesday against El Salvador in Foxborough, Mass., leads Group B at 2-0 with six points, while El Salvador and Guatemala are each 1-1 with three points, and T&T trails the pack at 0-2. Guatemala edged El Salvador 1-0 tonight. The top two teams in each of three four-nation groups, as well as the two third-place teams with the best records advance to the final eight.
The U.S. is the only nation among the 12 entrants to have clinched a spot in the Gold Cup quarterfinals and also the one team not to have conceded a goal.
Landon Donovan came on for the second half and set up Johnson's tally nine minutes later. His 25th career assist extended his U.S. national-team record while, adding in his 30 goals, he established a new best with 85 points, eclipsing Eric Wynalda. Donovan trails Wynalda by four for the all-time goals lead.
U.S. coach Bob Bradley used an entirely different lineup today than he did in Thursday's 1-0 decision over Guatemala, with the exception of midfielder Benny Feilhaber, who made his second straight start and played the first 45 minutes today before Donovan replaced him.
"Before the tournament we wanted to look at two groups (of players) for sure," said Bob Bradley, whose record is 6-0-1 since taking over as U.S. coach in December. "When the games come so quickly, we feel good about the depth that we have. I think that showed today."
T&T, meanwhile, used almost the same exact starting 11 from Thursday's 2-1 setback to El Salvador The Trinidadians are shorthanded for this event with all but one member of its 2006 World Cup team absent because of a contract dispute.
The U.S. jumped ahead 1-0 in the 29th minute after midfielder Justin Mapp chased down a long ball from back Jonathan Spector, pushing the ball past defender Seon Power to carry into the penalty area. Meanwhile, Ching, who had initially started to drift to the near post, changed course to the center of the box and directed Mapp's pass into the net for his fifth career tally.
"I was pleased to see Brian get on the scoreboard for us," Bradley said. "He has been an important player for us and it is nice to see him score the game-winner today. It was a great set-up from Justin Mapp. Again, we see the talent that he has and the ability he has to create some plays."
As the half came to a close, both sides had a chance to assert control. First, a miscommunication between U.S. defenders Jay DeMerit and Michael Parkhurst, making his international debut, nearly allowed T&T striker Andre Pouissant a free run at goal, but Parkhurst recovered to knock the ball over the end-line. Then, the U.S. quickly counterattacked with Johnson feeding midfielder Steve Ralston near the top of the box. Ralston cut back inside past his mark, but his left-footed effort was denied by keeper Jan Michael Williams' sprawling save.
Donovan came on for the second half and caused T&T immediate problems. In the 54th minute, he timing a run from the center stripe so he could carry unchallenged into the right side of the box. With two opponents closing in, he touched an easy pass to Johnson, who calmly found the gaping net for his 10th international goal for a 2-0 advantage.
"Just a great run and an unselfish play by Landon Donovan," Bradley said.
Coming off consecutive three-goal efforts for the Kansas City Wizards in Major League Soccer, Johnson recorded his first international tally since a 4-0 victory against Guatemala on February 19, 2006, a span of 13 games.
While Keller was active in diffusing the T&T attack, he was required to make only two saves, both great reaction stops as stoppage time began at game's end. He posted his 51st career win.
Notes: The U.S. is 20-0-1 in group play in its Gold Cup history.
Tuesday's 7 p.m. (ET) Group B finale against El Salvador will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel and Spanish-language Telefutura.
United States 2. Trinidad & Tobago 0
Lineups: United States - Kasey Keller (captain), Frank Simek, Jay DeMerit, Michael Parkhurst, Jonathan Spector, Steve Ralston, Benny Feilhaber (Landon Donovan 46), Ricardo Clark, Justin Mapp, Brian Ching (Michael Bradley 65), Eddie Johnson (Taylor Twellman 72); Trinidad & Tobago - Jan Michael Williams, Keyeno Thomas, Thomas Nickcolson (Kerry Baptiste 24), Seon Power, Anthony Noriega (Christon Baptiste 20), Romauld Aguillera, Andrei Pacheco (Trent Noel, 81), Silvio Spann, Densill Theobald, Andre Toussaint, Darryl Roberts.
United States - Ching (Mapp) 29.
United States - Johnson (Donovan) 54.
Shots: United States 16, Trinidad & Tobago 8
Saves: United States 2, Trinidad & Tobago 6.
Corner kicks: United States 0, Trinidad & Tobago 4.
Fouls: United States 15, Trinidad & Tobago 15.
Offside: United States 8, Trinidad & Tobago 7.
Yellow card cautions: Trinidad & Tobago - Thomas 51, Pacheco 77.
Referee: Roberto Moreno (Panama).
Assistant referees: Daniel Williamson (Panama), Hiran Depico (Cuba).
Fourth official: German Arredondo (Mexico).
Attendance: 27,000 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
Weather: 71 degrees, clear.
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