With three points secured from an easy, if initially scary, win over St. Vincent and the Grenadines last Friday night the U.S. MNT are set for a sterner test tomorrow at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
The Soca Warriors of T&T are an entirely different kettle of fish from the part-timers of St V&G, a point U.S Soccer and coach Jurgen Klinsmann have made in the build-up to the match.
The Yanks have played nine times in T&T posting five wins, two draws, and two losses. All of the games were decided by a goal or less, the most recent requiring a golazo from Ricardo Clark to allow the Americans to escape with a 1-0 win in 2009.
T&T are coming off of a 2-1 away win at Guatemala in the first WCQ round, although it is fair to point out that Guatemala is not a very good team at the moment.
More impressively, Trinidad and Tobago topped its group at this summer’s Gold Cup finishing ahead of Mexico. The Soca Warriors drew 4-4 with El Tri in group play and like the U.S were eliminated by Panama on penalty kicks in knockout action.
The home team feature an attack built around the powerful striker Kenwyne Jones who can be quite a handful. The former Stoke man is currently playing in the English Championship for Cardiff where he has three goals in 11 games this season.
Klinsmann has indicated that he won’t be making many changes to the side that handled the Vincy Heat on Friday night, also going out of his way to praise Fabian Johnson’s work in the midfield.
Does that mean that Klinsmann will give DeAndre Yedlin a second consecutive start at fullback while retaining the Monchengladbach man on the wing? We’ll have to wait and see, but some continuity could be helpful in the U.S. backline.
Midfielder Jermaine Jones is battling to be at 100% fitness in time for tomorrow night, if the rugged Germerican loses that battle will Klinsmann turn to Real Salt Lake vet Kyle Beckerman, or will a more extensive reshuffle be required.
The one real head-scratcher on the U.S. roster is the absence of the teams second ever leading goalscorer Clint Dempsey.
Like most of his teammates, Dempsey had a match to forget in last month’s CONCACAF loss to Mexico, but that match aside Dempsey has been scoring goals for club and country and Klinsmann could find himself with egg on his face if the U.S. come up a goal short against the Soca Warriors on Tuesday.