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Pulisic’s second-half double eases USMNT past T&T

The U.S. Men’s National Team took care of business on Thursday, and it was the team’s present and future star that proved the savior.

The 18-year-old phenom wrote the latest chapter in the growing early chapters of his legacy in the 2-0 victory over Trinidad & Tobago on Thursday night in the Hexagonal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

Pulisic scored in the 52nd and 62nd minutes to U.S. into third place on a temporary basis in the Hex.

The display of  class from the Borussia Dortmund settled the nerves inside the home of the Colorado Rapids and ensured the pair of World Cup qualifying matches will go down as a success, even if the USMNT loses on Sunday in the impenetrable cauldron that is the Estadio Azteca.

Neither the USMNT or the visiting Soca Warriors put together an impressive first 45 minutes, but there were plenty of chances created on both sides of the field. Kenwyne Jones struck the crossbar with a headed attempt in the 30th minute, a moment that encapsulated the USMNT’s porous defending on a few occasions during the victory.

After strolling through the first 15 minutes, the USMNT created a solid stream of chances, only to be turned away by the play of Jan-Michael Williams, who made six first-half denials against the home team. The best chances came through the wings, where Jorge Villafana and DeAndre Yedlin took advantage of the T&T defensive setup. However, the forward pairing of Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore failed to impress in the opening stanza.

The frustration from the first half turned into overwhelming celebration seven minutes into the second half, when Pulisic got on the end of a Yedlin cross to finally beat Williams. Darlington Nagbe was the creator of the goal, as he worked well through midfield before dishing out to Yedlin. The Newcastle United man, who also had a decent night in defense, picked out Pulisic to ease the growing amount of pressure insider the stadium.

The American wonderkid burst through the T&T back line 10 minutes after his opener on a finish one would expect to come from a wily veteran with over 50 caps. Pulisic latched onto an Altidore pass as he rounded a defender and coolly slotted past Williams for his seventh-career international tally.

Pulisic’s masterful finishing will be the main talking point from the contest, but the Americans still have plenty to improve if they want to earn a point out of Mexico City in three days time. The defense looked shaky at times, and John Brooks did not cover himself in glory, even when his side went up by a pair of goals.

The lapses in defending shown by the Wolfsburg center back will lead to goals and concrete chances on Sunday night, and the Americans can’t have another lackluster showing out of their forwards. Altidore did record an assist, but he was poor for the rest of the match, as was Dempsey in pursuit of tying the American all-time scoring record.

The pair of Pulisic goals allowed Arena to pull Dempsey in the 61st minute, which could mean another starting role for the forward on Sunday in a match where all of the training at altitude over the last two weeks will have to pay off.

The loss all but ended the World Cup hopes of the Soca Warriors, who have been mired at the basement of the Hex since play opened up in November. It’s going to take a miracle for them to even have a chance to qualify the next time they meet the USMNT on October 10 in Port of Spain.

Arena’s USMNT moved to 2-1-0 at home during the Hex, and it has outscored Honduras and T&T, 8-0, in the last two home contests. Costa Rica and Panama await at home in the fall, two games the Americans will have their eyes to grab points and qualify for Russia after Sunday’s match in Mexico City.


  1. I blame USSF for USNT not being a Top Ten Team. USSF is more worried about the “chicks” and our enemy than USNT. USNT looked not ready for high of 2,200 meters.

  2. Sadly, I miss goals because I had tend my business.

    Pulisic, proves younger is better than “over-the-hill World Cup failures” (Zusi, Besler, Wondo etc…). Gold Cup group is rather weak & it would be good tryout some young players like: Ramirez, Wright & rest Schalke dudes, Gooch, Perez, maybe Jordan-T, EBP (or EPB), half Dutch or part Argie dude.

    Only a Victory versus the “forces of evil” on 11th Jun 17, could regain USNT it’s honor. The rest of the Qualifiers are being on 13Jun17! Why USNT playing on the 11th!?

    • The USA vs Mexico match was moved up because Mexico is playing in the Confederation Cup on the 18th. The TnT match was originally set for Friday, but was moved up so that the Mexico match could be played on the 11th.

  3. Good result for the team, and the fact that they did not play their best allows Arena to get on them to fix the mistakes before Sunday night. Here are my takeaways:

    – The lineup after Dempsey went out looked much more dangerous. Before the game I was calling for Pulisic to play out wide, but I now think our best lineup has him as the second striker behind Wood or Jozy, Acosta next to Bradley in the middle and FJ and Nagbe out wide. The movement in that formation was great, and if I remember correctly this was also where the scoring explosion came from in Honduras, except Demps played the forward role after Jozy was taken out. I know this takes Demps out of the lineup, but Pulisic plays almost the same role right now (that of timely scorer), but much more dynamic and he plays defense. Demps should become our super sub.

    – Bradley drives me nuts! His foot speed is so poor and he knows it, so he never closes anyone down when they are 25 yards out. Unless he is the second defender in or he has no other choice, he will not engage a dribbler to force a layoff. This led to more than a few chances for T&T last night. The difference when Acosta came in was night and day. Beyond that, Bradley’s on field demeanor does not look good to me. He never seems to run all out, his passes are almost always safe ones, and the poor passing has gotten worse as the years go on. There were at least two or three last night where he passed between two players with no pressure on him. So frustrating for a captain to play like that!

    – The defense is solidifying well, with a few minor hiccups here and there. JB and Cam seem to be getting more comfortable with each other, Yedlin is getting better every game defensively, and Villafana was solid until he lost his energy near the end (I think it was an elevation issue). They need to tighten up a bit on set pieces and crosses from the corners, but I think that they are gelling well.

    – Nagbe had his best game in the USMNT kit. His movement was great and I thought he could have done more if Demps could have gotten the ball of his foot better, which killed a bunch of his moves. I hope he keeps it up, although I worry about him doing the same against better opponents.

    – Acosta is going to be the next Jermaine Jones. His energy, willingness to run for his teammates, and his closing ability on defense makes me very excited to see him play more this summer. Add that lethal free kick ability and he should be a solid player for us.

    – Thank goodness Bradley has been taken off of free kicks, we now have a chance of getting some pressure from dead ball situations!

    Well done boys, crossing my fingers that the best of this team shows up on Sunday, getting pumped!

  4. There were a lot of people saying Nagbe shouldn’t be in the starting line up yesterday because he doesn’t do enough, well, i think last night showed why those comments were laughable and flat out wrong because he could have been the MOM if not for Pulisic’s goals! He was the driving force for the US attack, was everywhere on the field and his defensive work was outstanding as well! I also thought Yedlin and Villafana showed well, they were whipping crosses in that were pin point and obviously one of Deandres’ led to Pulisics’ first goal. Cameron and Brooks were very tidy in the back with the ball and even got forward at times to mount pressure on the defense, so aside from the apparent lapse in concentration on Jones’ header they were up to the task.

    Dempsey and Fabian J were below average for the second straight match, although Clints’ lofted ball on the give and go with Nagbe led to CP’s second goal. Clint can’t talk all day about not thinking about the goal record but his face said it all last night when he was subbed off. And what the hell was Bedoya thinking on that slide tackle that got him a yellow card as soon as he came on?? I think he’ll get the call over Fabian for the mexico game and i’m not excited about that prospect at all.

    • The problem with Nagbe has always been consistency. Can he have that type of game against a better defensive team, that’s the real question. I was really hoping that the move to Celtic would happen because it would force him to be more consistent just to see the field.

    • I was one of those saying Nagbe was not playing well enough for USMNT. Last night was certainly his best game so far, and I give credit where credit is due. His movement was much better and he used his teammates to move the ball forward instead of trying to dribble through the whole team. That said, he still has some really poor passes and his touch around the box is not as clinical as it needs to be against better opponents. I hope he continues to find his game at this level.

      Not sure what is wrong with FJ, but he never looks all in for this team, which is frustrating since we know what skill he has. I love Demps but I think he should be our super sub from now on. If he is not scoring every other game, he is hurting us in other parts of the field.

  5. Manny fans want in the roster the other jewell Josh Sargentinstead jozy altidore,is younger,fast
    and scored many goal,pulisic is confident to beat México,really confident—-Pullisic-Sargeant
    will be a usa power team

    • The excitement around Jozy at age 17 was just as high as Sargent. The difference is it’s now ten years later and we’ve seen Jozy play a hundred times and know all his ins and outs. Let’s see Sargent play a professional match against grown men before we move to the front of the forward pool.

  6. That first goal Pulisic scored he kinda stole from Dempsey. It was fascinating…the cross came in, and you see both Pulisic and Dempsey reflexively leave their feet and extend for the tap-in in stereo, the problem was Pulisic was two feet closer and the ball didn’t get to Dempsey.

    Exactly what you want the kid to do, but he did kinda trample on Deuce’s moment right there. Probably had to do with why Dempsey was all grumpy-like when he was pulled.

    • i dont get it. Pulisic was in much better position, what do you want him to do? Let the ball roll by and hope Duece makes up the 3 yards. Its petty of Dempsey to think this way also. Bad team mate if you ask me. Who cares who scores? They need to win.I have never cared if someone poaches a goal from me, as long as they dont screw it up.

      • It goes to that bit of selfishness all great goalscorers have. The good is that they score a lot of goals, the bad is they can occasionally tick off teammates and coaches and look petulant at times. Huge Demps fan here, but that side of him has always been there.

  7. thought brooks did okay; it was villafaña who was bad, and brooks and even bradley had to continually cover for him. if he plays like that against mexico, he’s going to be humiliated.

  8. Altidore was poor? I’m no jozy apologist, but were you watching the same game? The patience and touch on the thruball to pulisic in the first half, and a great assist on one of pulisic’s goals? And tons of hustle and actual defensive play in between?

    • i thought he did alright. didn’t really look dangerous, but his passing was good (as usual), and he did hustle. could’ve gotten himself suspended for the mexico game if the ref had carded him for that dive in the box, though.

    • Thats about all I saw Altidore to was that pass. We cannot have a lineup where the goals are not being scored by the two forwards. I really think Arena has to move Wood up higher on that list if we have any hope of production from the two forward spots.

  9. If the4y play like this vs. Mexico, they’ll probably lose by at least 2 goals. Really need to step it up in the Azteca.

    • Spot on. In truth there were 2-3 players in the side who were playing at the level that will be required for success in Mexico City on Sunday….. Pulisic, Nagbe, and perhaps Yedlin. Nobody was flat-out terrible, but the other performance all left something to be desired….

    • I was sitting right behind the US bench and you are not mistaken. But the truth is, Demspey was probably our worst performer in the 60 mins he was on the field. A half step slow, sloppy with his touches, and generally uninvolved in breaking down a pretty unremarkable T&T side. I suspect Bruce told him they will need him at his best in Mexico City. And on that point I agree.

  10. His touch…his speed….his moment with the ball…..7 goals 5 assists in 15 games…..this kid is on another level

    • He may very well end up with the US record for career goals and assists for the national team by the time he’s through.


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