Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySoccer World DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America ClassifiedsGame Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Americans face desperate T&T
by Ridge Mahoney, October 15th, 2008 7AM

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

Fans may regard the USA's Concacaf qualifier Wednesday against Trinidad & Tobago as little more than a lark; with qualification assured, some younger players can get on the field, knock the ball around, and just enjoy the experience.

In reality, this figures to be a fiercer test, regardless of the stakes, than what the team faced in Guatemala City and Havana. T&T plays a physical, rugged style that can destroy an opponent's attacking rhythm and batter away at its defense, and most important of all, the Soca Warriors are desperate for points. The T&T roster also features 11 players from the 2006 World Cup team. As the Brits say, they ain't mugs, and they didn't like being embarrassed, 3-0, in Bridgeview, Ill. last month, either.

It's unlikely that Freddy Adu, Jozy Altidore, Charlie Davies, et al, will be frolicking and gamboling about the Hasley Crawford Stadium once the game begins (8 p.m. ET, ESPN, Galavision). Instead, they'll be jumping over high tackles, ducking flying forearms and running their lungs out, for a while at least.

T&T and Guatemala are tied for second place. The Soca Warriors trail on goal difference but have the edge in the schedule -- they host the USA and Cuba, while the Chapines are away to Cuba and the USA.

For U.S. coach Bob Bradley, Wednesday's game will be a valuable observation of players' composure and poise as well as stamina and skill. Several members of his defensive corps are young and/or relatively inexperienced -- eight players were under-23 players on the Olympic team -- his options in midfield are limited, game-breakers Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey have gone back to their clubs, and he named just three forwards to his 18-man squad.

Criticism of the "defensive" U.S. mindset in previous qualifiers melted away after the 6-1 rout of Cuba on Saturday, yet all the U.S. did differently was field a fired-up DaMarcus Beasley, a focused Landon Donovan, a sharp Brian Ching and a crafty Sacha Kljestan against a very weak team.

Beasley and Kljestan could be expected to spark the attack again, yet the Americans had best be ready to be charged, pushed and manhandled by a rough, robust team who will soar on the roars of the crowd if they can get the first goal.

Maurice Edu played in central defense at the Olympic Games and might get tested there again, but Bradley has seen little of Danny Califf despite inviting him to several camps, and Michael Orozco, who played out of position at left back at the Olympic Games, normally plays in the middle. Bradley may want and need Edu's strength and range in midfield against a very athletic array of T&T attackers. Or he can play with three true central defenders, use two wing backs, and use his midfielders and forwards in more or less their normal positions.

Altidore can certainly use his power to match that of the T&T defenders yet the pace of Davies (counter, baby, counter!) will be handy, too. Bradley may not start both of them, but both are likely to play, barring unforeseen developments such as injuries or ejections.

T&T will be missing Cyd Gray and Anthony Wolfe because of suspension. Forwards Cornell Glen and Stern John (both former MLS strikers) are battling hamstring injuries. Defensive breakdowns often plague T&T, yet against Guatemala it stubbornly held the game goalless despite losing Gray to his second caution in the 39th minute.

Legendary T&T midfielder Russell Latapy, still turning out at age 40, came off the field when Coach Francisco Maturana made a double switch in the aftermath of Gray's dismissal. In that game, defender Dennis Lawrence suffered a strained muscle but has been cleared to play, and the Americans will need to be wary of midfielder Chris Birchall, whose energetic work helped defuse Guatemala's pressure. Birchall didn't play when the U.S. beat T&T last month.

American fans may regard this qualifier more lightly than the ones that preceded it, but for the players sent onto the field wearing their nation's shirt, the demands will be much the same.

U.S. ROSTER:
Goalkeepers -- Brad Guzan (Aston Villa/ENG), Troy Perkins (Valerenga/NOR).
Defenders -- Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Danny Califf (FC Midtjylland/DEN), Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew), Michael Orozco (San Luis/MEX), Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock/GER), Marvell Wynne (Toronto FC).
Midfielders -- Freddy Adu (AS Monaco/FRA), DaMarcus Beasley (Glasgow Rangers/SCO), Brian Carroll (Columbus Crew), Maurice Edu (Glasgow Rangers/SCO), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Danny Szetela (Brescia/ITA) Jose Francisco Torres (Pachuca/MEX).
Forwards -- Jozy Altidore (Villarreal/SPA), Charlie Davies (Hammarby/SWE), Chris Rolfe (Chicago Fire).

 



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
What They're Saying: Whitworth athletic director Tim Demant     
''As a Christ-centered university that believes in the value of all individuals, we are seeking to ...
U.S. U-23s head north to Preston for key test    
The U.S. under-23 national team will play the first of two warmup games before Olympic qualifying ...
What They're Saying: Sean St. Ledger    
"Never ever in my wildest dreams did I think I would be on the same team ...
Lou City's Fondy breaks USL season scoring record    
Matt Fondy entered Louisville City's match against Harrisburg on Wednesday night with 18 goals, two behind ...
Video Pick: An open net own goal from close range    
It's the Swedish Damallsvenskan that brings us a sadly spectacular own goal. Had Hammarby's Helen Eke ...
International callups will have heavy toll on MLS games    
The good news is that MLS is attracting more players getting callups to their national teams. ...
Post-Klopp Dortmund poised to challenge Bayern Munich     
After Borussia Dortmund hired a highly regarded young coach to replace the beloved Juergen Klopp, kept ...
Klinsmann: Guzan remains No. 1, USA needs Beas    
Of the myriad questions surrounding the U.S. men's national team ahead of the Oct. 10 match ...
Video Pick: Gareth Bale hits brilliant behind-the-goal goal     
Wales is on the brink of qualifying for its first major tournament in since 1958. Gareth ...
What They're Saying: Christen Press    
"I want so much more for my teammates. You can be one inch from the national ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives