Frustration was starting to seep into the U.S. men’s national team in its CONCACAF Nations League quarterfinal matchup with Trinidad & Tobago, until a trio of late goals at Q2 Stadium helped ease any worries.
Ricardo Pepi, Antonee Robinson, and Gio Reyna all scored in the final 10 minutes to help Gregg Berhalter’s squad to a 3-0 first leg victory over the Soca Warriors. Noah Powder’s first-half ejection put Trinidad & Tobago in a major hole and despite Denzil Smith’s best efforts in goal, the Americans eventually broke through to earn a comfortable result.
The USMNT owned the majority of first-half possession, but were unable to truly test Smith in between the posts. Malik Tillman missed a pair of individual efforts while Sergino Dest also skied his right-footed opportunity.
Powder was sent off in the 38th minute after receiving a second yellow card for hacking down Weston McKennie. Powder received his first yellow card in the 18th minute for a foul on McKennie and the veteran midfielder was ejected just seven minutes before halftime.
However, the USMNT struggled to take advantage of the extra man advantage, being held goal-less going into halftime.
Yunus Musah’s long-range strike in the 57th minute looked destined to find the top-right corner, but Smith was up to the task to deny the AC Milan midfielder.
The USMNT thought it had a penalty kick opportunity not long after but VAR overturned Oshane Nation’s decision. McKennie looked to have tripped by Daniel Phillips inside of the box, but Phillips’ slightest touch of the ball forced the penalty kick to be waived off.
Pepi entered the match in the 68th minute and would deliver the breakthrough goal in the 81st through a clever finish. Robinson’s dangerous cross from the left wing was flicked by Pepi past Smith for a 1-0 lead.
It marked Pepi’s first USMNT goal since Sept. 12 vs. Oman.
Robinson’s powerful left-footed shot in the 86th minute doubled the Americans lead before Gio Reyna’s near post strike sealed the final score at 3-0 just three minutes later. Folarin Balogun’s through ball pass allowed Reyna to comfortably slot home his seventh international goal.
The USMNT will close out its two-legged showdown with the Soca Warriors in Port of Spain, Trinidad on Monday, Nov. 20.