A goal from a field long counter attack finished by Los Angeles Galaxy prospect Bradford Jamieson IV was all that the U.S. needed tonight in Jamaica to advance to Saturday’s playoff to qualify for the U20 World Cup in New Zealand.
The Americans will play Saturday at 5 pm ET against El Salvador for a chance to join the Big Dance that runs from May 30 – June 20.
The U.S. were the better team for most of the night, although the action was hardly all one way. Playing in the same 4-4-2 formation that they have favored in wins versus Aruba and Jamaica, Tab Ramos’ side had the better of the early exchanges in an opening 15 minutes that was played at breakneck speed by both teams.
Trinidad and Tobago came into this match knowing that only a win would see them move on to Saturday’s playoff, the U.S. needed just a draw or better.
The Americans leading scorer Romain Gall had two very scorable chances in the opening 45, but missed the target boh times. The young Yanks were bringing pressure from good overlapping runs by fullbacks Shaquell Moore and John Requejo, with playmaker Emerson Hyndman pulling the strings.
Hyndman also got the sparse Montego Bay crowd on its feet with a brilliant bit of dribbling that freed him for a blast at goal that Trinidad and Tobago keeper Johan Welch saved.
U.S keeper Zack Steffan was not forced into any dramatic saves in a first half that finished 0-0, but the Freiburg man saw T&T spurn a couple a decent opportunities in that opening stanza.
The American cause began to look a bit shaky on the resumption when the young Soca Warriors came out of the locker room like a team playing to save its World Cup dream, which of course it was.
The Americans settled in with a pair of second half subs doing their part. Junior Flores and Paul Arriola replaced Ben Spencer and Romain Gall, and the duo combined to set Jamieson IV up for the lone goal of the match.
Flores led the break from deep in the U.S. end, finding Arriola in space after a lung busting run. Arriola’s cut back across the bumpy Montego Bay pitch found Jamieson, and the lanky striker did the rest.
Jamieson had to be especially happy with his match winner, having been robbed on earlier chance with Welch beaten. T&T defender Neval Hackshaw played the hero in the 49th minute, saving Jamieson’s effort with his keeper beaten, but Jamieson would have the final say.
The Americans never looked like losing the match, even if playing for a tie is generally a dubious strategy. That is not to say that Tab Ramos was looking to back into Saturday’s playoff with a 0-0 result, it is just that as the clock ticked, that scoreline began to look more and more likely.
Once the U.S. broke the deadlock, Trinidad and Tobago’s spirit seemed broken too. With T&T needing two goals to overturn the result, an air inevitability set in.
Flores nearly extended the U.S. advantage late on, but it hardly mattered. Now the U.S. wait to find out Saturday’s opponent. A win would send the U.S. to New Zealand, and put to rest, at least for now, all the questions raised by the team’s poor start to this CONCACAF U20 Championships
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 1 1
TRI 0 0 0
USA – Bradford Jamieson IV (Paul Arriola) 79th minute
USA: 1-Zack Steffen, 2-Shaquell Moore, 3-John Requejo Jr., 4-Cameron Carter-Vickers, 5-Matt Miazga; 16-Russell Canouse, 8-Emerson Hyndman, 9-Romain Gall (10-Junior Flores, 69), 11-Tommy Thompson (14-Conor Donovan, 84), 19-Bradford Jamieson IV, 20-Ben Spencer (7-Paul Arriola, 60)
Subs Not Used: 12-Ethan Horvath, 13-Tyler Turner, 15-Fernando Arce, 17-Amando Moreno, 18-Lynden Gooch
Head coach: Tab Ramos
TRI: 1-Yohan Welch; 2-Shannon Gomez, 3-Martieon Watson, 4-Jesus Perez, 5-Leland Archer; 6-Duane Muckette (10-Jabari Mitchell, 76), 7-Akeem Garcia, 8-Neveal Hackshaw, 12-Kishun Seecharan; 14-Matthew Woo Ling (11-Levi Garcia, 65) 15-Aikim Andrews (16-Ricardo John, 70)
Substitutions Not Used: 21-Javon Sample, 13-Brendon Creed, 18-Kevon Goddard, 19-Maurice Ford
Head coach: Derek King
Stats Summary: USA / TRI
Shots: 19 / 8
Shots on Goal: 7 / 2
Saves: 2 / 6
Corner Kicks: 4 / 6
Fouls: 17 / 16
Offside: 1 / 0
USA – Russell Canouse (caution) 1st minute
TRI – Aikim Andrews (caution) 39
TRI – Kishun Seecharan (caution) 84