Americans work hard for scoreless draw with Trinidad & Tobago in World Cup qualifier.
By Robert Wagman
(Tuesday, November 17, 2015) -- The United States men came away with a hard earned point from its World Cup Semifinal Round Qualifying Group C visit to a packed Hasely Crawford Stadium with a 0-0 draw with speedy host Trinidad and Tobago tonight in Port of Spain.
The two nations are tied for first place after two of six matches in Group C at 1-0-1 with four points. Guatemala (1-1-0, 3 points) recorded a 4-0 shutout over St. Vincent and The Grenadines (0-2-0, 0). The top two finishers advance to the six-team final round of qualifying.
Both sides managed their chances, which were few and far between, with neither club able to take advantage. The game was extremely physical as the Soca Warriors tried to use their fast pace to get behind or through the U.S. defense. They succeeded early in the match with three golden chances in the first 30 minutes, however, their finishing was abysmal,
The Americans were forced to chase Trinidad and Tobago pace in the first half and, in turn, were able to generate little attack. In the second half, the U.S. began to force the action, and should have gone ahead just two minute after intermission when striker Jozy Altidore sent a short cross into the path of an unmarked Gyasi Zardes, who blasted a point-blank header off the crossbar rather than into a wide open net.
The only other real chance the U.S. had was a blast from distance by midfielder Jermaine Jones with T&T goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams just managing to turn it onto the crossbar.
U.S. coach Jürgen Klinsmann used much the same lineup as he did in the 6-1 victory over St. Vincent Friday in St. Louis. He made a couple of changes with Tim Howard back in goal, replacing Brad Guzan in net.
He inserted Michael Orozco at right back as he continues to search for someone to take control of that position. Up front, he removed Bobby Wood in favor of Gyasi Zardes to partner with Jozy Altidore and he moved DeAndre Yedlin into a more offensive midfield role.
The scoreless draw was probably a fair result with the U.S. withstanding Trinidad & Tobago pressure through most of the first half and with the roles reversed in the second half with T&T forced to defend and hope for a successful counter that never came.
As Klinsmann said after the match, “Overall, a tie is all right.”
The U.S. is now off until next March when it will play Guatemala home and away.
U.S. Player Ratings
Goalkeeper Tim Howard - 6: He had little to do, but added a calmness to the defense as he made all the routine plays easily. He is a commanding presence in goal.
Defender Tim Ream - 5.5: Early on. he had problems with the pace of the swift forwards that Trinidad & Tobago sent forward. After he settled in. he did well until he seemed to run out of gas as the hour mark approached. He looked ready to leave when he was replaced.
Defender Matt Besler - 6: He, too, had some first half problems with the pace of the forwards coming at him, but he looked stronger in the second half when he made some key stops.
Defender Geoff Cameron - 6.5: He was tasked with keeping veteran Kenwyne Jones under control. Except for once early in the first half, when Jones turned him and fired wide, he did a commendable job. He acted as the heart of the central defense and looks like a lock on that position as qualifying goes forward. His headed goal was a bonus.
Defender Michael Orozco - 6: He made a strong bid for the right-side defender job. He was not able to add much to the offense going forward, but held up well defensively, making few errors.
Midfielder Jermaine Jones - 6.5: As usual, he showed an incredible work rate, making defensive stops all over the field. His passing remains the best the U.S. has to offer and, in the 76th minute, he whistled a long, hard shot that the keeper barely deflected away.
Midfielder Michael Bradley - 6: He was not a dominant figure in the midfield. He seemed satisfied to lay back and help absorb the early pressure that T&T put on. He had a better second half and got more into the flow of play.
Midfielder DeAndre Yedlin - 5: He might had been slowed by a yellow card, but never really stepped up to offer the offensive spark that was hoped for. He was better later, but never was able to contribute much.
Midfielder Fabian Johnson - 5.5: He was not as effective offensively as he was on Friday in St Louis. He made runs, but had little to show for the effort. He moved back to left defense when Ream came out in the 63rd minute.
Forward Jozy Altidore - 6.5: He scored two goals, Otherwise, he was involved with play both on top of the attack and much deeper in the midfield in a defensive role. He matched the pace of T&T until he began to fade near the end, but overall his performance was a plus.
Forward Gyasi Zardes - 4: He had a very frustrating night, missing a point-blank header in the 47th minute, among other things. He had a good work rate with no effect.
Midfielder Darlington Nagbe (63rd minute for Ream) - 5.5: He came on to offer a lift to the offense, but was forced to mainly play defense, which he did competently.
Forward Bobby Wood (76th minute for Zardes) - 5: He was not able to play as effectively as he did on Friday against St. Vincent. He had little impact.
SoccerTimes U.S. Player of the Match: Jermaine Jones.
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
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