Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
The United States men’s national team have the chance to clinch automatic qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Tuesday, with a draw needed in Trinidad & Tobago.
An emphatic 4-0 win over Panama in their previous outing ensured the USMNT’s fate is in their own hands as they head into the final round of CONCACAF qualifying games. If the United States were to lose, Honduras were to beat Mexico and Panama beat Costa Rica, they would not even make the playoffs.
But against the group whipping boys—Trinidad & Tobago have only picked up three points—there shouldn’t be too many problems for Bruce Arena’s team.
Here are the key viewing details ahead of a vital game for the USMNT and a closer look at what is a huge fixture at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
Date: Tuesday, October 10
Time: 8 p.m. (ET)/5 p.m. (PT)/1 a.m. (BST, October 11)
TV Info: beIN Sports (U.S.)
Live Stream: beIN Sports Connect (U.S.)
The United States have never truly got going in their Hexagonal qualifying, though whenever the team has really needed to pull off a big result, they’ve managed to do so.
That was evident in the vital game against Panama, as Arena’s side trailed their opponents by a point heading into the contest. But the USMNT were composed, cohesive and eventually had far too much firepower in a 4-0 victory.
Colin Cowherd of FS1 hailed the performance turned in by the United States, thus making them favourites for automatic qualification:
Colin Cowherd @ColinCowherd
As big a win for USMNT as I can remember. Focused and precise performance. A rested & healthy team (finally) delivers. 💪🇺🇸👏🏻
Another thread running through the team’s recent displays has been the magic showcased by Christian Pulisic.
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
While he’s still just 19, already the Borussia Dortmund midfielder is taking responsibility for the United States in these big games.
On Friday, he netted the opening goal to settle any lingering nerves before taking control of the contest with a masterful performance and putting one on a plate for teammate Jozy Altidore.
It’s little surprise so many associated with United States football are so excited about what Pulisic will bring to this team in the years to come.
Roger Bennett of Men In Blazers hailed a coming-of-age display:
roger bennett @rogbennett
Tonight was the night Christian Pulisic became The Man. Feels a bit like we all just attended his Bar Mitzvah. And it was soccer-themed🙌
Altidore’s role in the team’s attacking play should not be overlooked either, as he’s led the line fantastically. Per ESPN’s Paul Carr, the pair have been the most prolific makers and takers of chances:
Paul Carr @PCarrESPN
Most #USMNT goals this WCQ cycle: Altidore 7, Pulisic 6 Most USMNT assists this WCQ cycle: Pulisic 6, Altidore 5.
Arena will be banking on both to be at full tilt on Tuesday, and given Pulsic was withdrawn before the hour mark against Panama, he should be fresh for the challenge posed by Trinidad & Tobago.
The teenager proved to be the difference when these two sides met earlier in qualifying when he netted a brace in a 2-0 win.
Despite having just three points to their name so far, the home side shouldn’t be taken lightly. As noted by the Caribbean Football Twitter account, they were competitive in a 3-1 defeat against Mexico last time out:
Caribbean Football @caribbeanfooty
FT Mexico 3 – 1 Trinidad and Tobago. Mexico add another goal. Same story for T&T in the Hex; combative performance but not enough quality
Throughout qualifying, Trinidad & Tobago have been pretty dull in the final third, netting just five times in nine matches. Manager Dennis Lawrence’s players will have to find something extra if they’re going to spring a surprise.
In their last qualifying match in front of a home crowd, the Caribbean side will want to give a good account of themselves and will be as committed as usual.
A buoyant United States side will be too strong in the end, though, with Arena’s side poised to secure their spot at next summer’s Russia showpiece.
Prediction: Trinidad & Tobago 0-3 United States