The US men’s national team triumphed 3-0 over Trinidad and Tobago in the Concacaf Nations League quarterfinals at Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas, as goals from Gio Reyna, Ricardo Pepi and Antonee Robinson secured the first leg victory.
The USMTN dominated possession in the early stages, maintaining 76 percent possion, but could not capitalize on the front foot. Berhalter’s side played quick passes just outside Trinidad & Tobago’s penalty area, often sending in low crosses that were unable to find a fellow American.
Trinidad & Tobago’s Noah Powder provided the first big piece of action in the contest — but not by getting on the scoresheet or providing an assist. The 25-year-old picked up his second yellow card after a late challenge on Weston McKennie, giving the USMNT a one-man advantage in just the 37th minute of play.
The Soca Warriors still managed to defend valiantly throughout both halves, before the US finally broke the deadlock with just under 10 minutes to go in regulation. Antonee Robinson teed up an inviting cross for substitute Ricardo Pepi to latch on to, and the PSV Eindhoven player nonchalantly flicked the ball past Denzil Smith to put USA 1-0 up.
After picking up an assist, Robinson decided to get on the scoresheet with a long-range effort that took a slight deflection off a Trinidad & Tobago defender before finding the top corner. Not long after, Gio Reyna wanted in on the goal-scoring action and finished at the near post to put the up with a commanding 3-0 lead on the stroke of full time.
The performance was anything but convincing, but the US move one step closer to picking up another Nations League title and securing a Copa America ticket.
GK: Matt Turner – 6/10 – A bystander for almost the entire contest, as expected.
RB: Sergiño Dest – 7/10 – Didn’t put a foot wrong in the first half, playing his part on both ends of the pitch.
CB: Cameron Carter-Vickers – 7/10 – Stepped up with a couple well-timed challenges to prevent the opposition from striking on the counter.
CB: Tim Ream – 7/10 – Progressed the ball well up the pitch and didn’t have too much defending to do on the night.
LB: Antonee Robinson – 9/10 – Was reliable on the defensive end and his persistency on the attacking end paid off late in the game with a goal and an assist.
CM: Yunus Musah – 7.5/10 – Dominated the midfield, constantly recycling the ball to the wingers and full-backs to kick-start attacks.
CM: Weston McKennie – 8/10 – He took up a more advanced role in the middle of the park, always looking to play his teammates through on the wider areas of the pitch.
CM: Malik Tillman – 5/10 – Just wasn’t his night. He misplaced a few passes when the US were knocking on the door.
RW: Gio Reyna – 7/10 – The Borussia Dortmund figure was a little sluggish on the ball and was lacking the sharpness needed to step up as the US’ creative outlet but was still able to get on the scoresheet.
ST: Folarin Balogun – 6.5/10 – Was unable to have the desired impact due to the lack of service he received.
LW: Kevin Paredes – 6/10 – The player neither helped nor hindered his side.
SUB: Brenden Aaronson (65′ for Paredes) – 6.5/10 – A little frantic on the ball at times, but he was eager to get involved and gave the Soca Warriors backline something to worry about.
SUB: Ricardo Pepi (65′ for Tillman) – 7.5/10 – Was a game-changer off the bench and inspired the US to the late victory with a stunning piece of skill.
Gregg Berhalter – 6.5/10 – His lineup selection was pretty strong, but the team looked out of ideas for large parts of the game against a low block. It wasn’t the convincing win that the US needed, and questions will continue to be asked about his reappointment as USMNT boss.