Thanks to a vital late flurry of goals in the final 10 minutes on Thursday, the USMNT carries a healthy 3-0 aggregate lead into the second leg of their CONCACAF Nations League quarterfinal match on Monday.
The game represents the first time the United States will return to Trinidad and Tobago since the 2017 horror-show in Couva, which saw the U.S. fail to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Thus, the solid aggregate advantage is a massive achievement to avoid any pre-match narrative of another potential humiliation in this nation.
Through 80 minutes in Austin last week, it felt as if the U.S. was headed to a nervy second leg as the game remained scoreless despite Trinidad and Tobago playing a man down for the majority of the contest. Yet late goals from Ricardo Pepi, Antonee Robinson, and Gio Reyna gave the USMNT critical breathing room for the second leg on the road.
Below are the projected lineups for both teams based on the latest news leading up to Monday’s match, which would seal qualification to next summer’s Copa America should the U.S. advance on aggregate.
MORE: Recap the first leg as the USMNT used a furious finish to down Trinidad & Tobago
Given the increased amount of injuries to the United States, the comfortable scoreline, and the potential for the pitch in Trinidad and Tobago to be less than peak condition, it’s possible that Gregg Berhalter rotates his squad heavily for this second leg, giving some regulars a much-needed rest and some others a chance to impress.
Players like Antonee Robinson and Sergino Dest could be prime candidates for rotation thanks to their heavy minutes load at club level this season, while Malik Tillman and Kevin Paredes might be replaced after a poor showing in the first leg.
Below are the projected starting lineups for both teams ahead of their match at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
Trinidad and Tobago (5-3-2, right to left): 22. D. Smith (GK) — 14. S. Gomez, 16. A. Jones, 2. David, 17. J. Garcia, 6. Raymond — 7. Telfer, 18. Rampersad, 15. Hackshaw — 11. L. Garcia, 19. Shaw.
A second booking for Noah Powder before halftime of the first leg left Trinidad and Tobago a man down for a long period of the match, and he will be suspended for this second leg as well.
Knowing they need goals to have a chance at a miraculous comeback, head coach Angus Eve could sacrifice a midfielder from the bunkered 5-4-1 in the first leg in order to pair strikers Levi Garcia and Malcolm Shaw up front for a direct approach.
Neveal Hackshaw was booked in the first leg after coming off the bench at halftime, so another yellow card here would see him suspended for accumulation in a potential Copa America playoff match if Trinidad and Tobago can’t complete the comeback here.
United States (4-3-3, right to left): 1. Turner (GK) — 23. Lund, 12. M. Robinson, 4. Richards, 19. Scally — 14. de la Torre, 6. Musah, 15. P. Aaronson — 7. Reyna, 20. Balogun, 11. B. Aaronson.
A trio of hamstring injuries has kept three regular starters out of the squad in Christian Pulisic, Tim Weah, and Tyler Adams. Pulisic’s isn’t expected to be serious, but Adams is out until at least the turn of the calendar year to 2024.
Weston McKennie took a beating in the first leg and has departed camp with knee inflammation, returning to Juventus early to recover. Johnny Cardoso was scratched before the first leg due to an ankle injury, leaving the midfield extremely thin.
No Americans were booked in the first leg, meaning no players are in danger of a yellow-card suspension should they progress to the semifinals.
While the rest of the CONCACAF Nations League is broadcast on Paramount+ via the confederation’s rights deal with CBS, the United States matches are shown on TNT as U.S. Soccer’s deal with its domestic broadcaster takes precedent.
Meanwhile, a Spanish-language broadcast can be found on Universo, and streamed on Peacock.
Both English and Spanish broadcasts can be streamed on Fubo.