Kenwyne Jones saw a first half header crash off the cross bar and a Nathan Lewis strike was ruled a close offside as Trinidad and Tobago suffered a 2-0 defeat to the United States in a loss which T&T head coach Dennis Lawrence said was caused by individual errors in World Cup qualifying action at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Thursday night.
US head coach Bruce Arena later credited T&T for being a well prepared and organised team which made the game difficult for his side.
Christian Pulisic scored twice, in the 52nd and 62nd minutes to close off T&T which held its own and frustrated the hosts for long periods before a sold out crowd of just around 19,100.
After a quiet opening few minutes, Clint Dempsey fired a warning shot in the 15th minute, receiving at the top of the box but shooting just high of the bar with a curled, left-footed shot.
T&T goalkeeper Jan Michael Williams was in fine form on the night.John Brooks called him into action with right-footed shot from just outside the box in the 25th minute, but Williams did well to get down and keep the ball out.
Jozy Altidore forced a save moments later after a fine move down the left found the burly forward making a late run into the box.
Jones nearly put the visitors in front on 33 minutes, beating Tim Howard to Khaleem Hyland’s lofted ball into the area before firing his powerful header off the crossbar and back into play. Before that, Hyland had a long range effort go inches wide of the right post after a turnover by the Americans. And Carlos Edwards also got into a good position on the right of goal but opted to shoot, hitting over bar, instead of playing into the box for Kevin Molino or Lewis.
Williams made an impressive double save three minutes later, first defending a long drive from Jorge Villafana before denying Altidore’s header from close range moments later.
Howard palmed away Hyland’s low shot from outside of the box in the 42nd minute, showing quick reflexes to get down after seeing the ball late.
Molino was lively in the first half, having a couple decent looks on goal but could not find a way to add to his ‘hex’ tally which includes a winner over Panama three months ago.
After the break, the United States finally found their opener seven minutes in. Darlington Nagbe’s one-two with Dempsey played the Portland Timbers midfielder to the goal line, where he fed a pass out to DeAndre Yedlin who found a sliding Pulisic at the goalmouth to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead.
T&T looked to have an immediate equaliser when Nathan Lewis volleyed home a pinpoint cross from the right, but the goal was whistled for offsides.
Pulisic added his second of the match 10 minutes later — the Dortmund teenager receiving a ball from Altidore down the right channel and squeezing his right-footed shot past Williams at the near post with only the keeper to beat.
T&T had a couple decent chances in the second half but could not get on the scoresheet.
Head coach Lawrence said he could not fault his players for their efforts on the night.
“I thought we were well organised and I cannot fault the players for effort tonight. Our own individual errors cost us the two goals and the match,” Lawrence said in the post-match press conference.
“I felt the game was a very close game. There was hardly any difference between both teams, especially in the first half of the game. I think the altitude affected the tempo of the game, both teams were struggling with it. Our individual errors is probably what cost us. Us in possession, giving away the ball unnecessarily which we left us exposed. the US took advantage of it. Our goalkeeper had to make a couple saves every now and again which obviously he is there for. We have to think about the next game now,” Lawrence added.
“We were unlucky. Kenwyne hit the bar from a cross. I thought Nathan’s goal was very, very close and could have gone either way. Unfortunately it went against us again.”
US Head Coach Arena added “Well it was not an easy game. I think Trinidad was well prepared for the match, had a good tactical game and played well. On the other hand we played a solid 90 minutes. Some mistakes in the first half defensively, on a couple crosses, giving them a bit too much room to cross the ball. We missed a couple good opportunities but got a little bit better in the first half. We had two good goals by Christian.. I think there were other chances we could have finished. Their ‘keeper did well. But I thought they (T&T) did a terrific job. These games are tough.”
“I was frustrated. I think we were frustrated going in at half time,” Arena added.
T&T now sit on three points in the cellar position while the win gives Bruce Arena’s side, who came into the night in fourth place, seven points from five matches. Mexico moved to thirteen points with a 3-0 win at home to Honduras while Panama picked up a crucial point in Costa Rica with a 0-0 draw.
TEAM GP GD PTS
1 Mexico 5 +7 13
2 Costa Rica 5 +4 8
3 United States 5 +3 7
4 Panama 5 0 6
5 Honduras 5 -8 4
6 Trinidad and Tobago 5 -6 3
Dennis Lawrence’s Post-Game Comments
Bruce Arena’s Post-Game Comments
Trinidad and Tobago (3-4-2-1): 21.Jan-Michael Williams (GK); 5.Daneil Cyrus, 4.Sheldon Bateau, 17.Mekeil Williams; 11.Carlos Edwards, 19.Kevan George, 8.Khaleem Hyland (23.Leston Paul 75), 3.Joevin Jones (12.Shahdon Winchester 67); 10.Kevin Molino, 7.Nathan Lewis; 9.Kenwyne Jones (captain) (20.Jamille Boatswain 81).
Unused substitutes: 1.Marvin Phillip (GK), 22.Adrian Foncette (GK), 2.Aubrey David, 6.Radanfah Abu Bakr, 13.Hughtun Hector, 14.Andre Boucaud, 15.Curtis Gonzales, 16.Alvin Jones, 18.Hashim Arcia.
Coach: Dennis Lawrence
United States (4-1-3-2): 1.Tim Howard (GK); 2.DeAndre Yedlin, 17.Geoff Cameron, 6.John Brooks, 21.Jorge Villafana; 4.Michael Bradley (captain); 15.Darlington Nagbe, 10.Christian Pulisic, 23.Fabian Johnson (11.Alejandro Bedoya 73); 8.Clint Dempsey (16.Kellyn Acosta 60), 17.Jozy Altidore (9.Bobby Wood 82).
Unused substitutes: 12.Brad Guzan (GK), 22.Nick Ramando (GK), 3.Omar Gonzales, 5.Tim Ream, 7.DaMarcus Beasley, 13.Dax McCarty, 14.Paul Arriola, 18.Jordan Morris, 19.Graham Zusi.
Coach: Bruce Arena
Referee: Oscar Moncada (Honduras)