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CONCACAF Nations League | Quarter-Finals | 1st Leg
Nov 17, 2023 at 2am UK
Nippert Stadium

3 - 0
Trin. & Tob.

Pepi (82'), Robinson (86'), Reyna (89')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Powder (18'), Hackshaw (90+1')
Powder (37')

Preview: USA vs. Trinidad and Tobago - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: USA vs. Trinidad and Tobago - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Friday's CONCACAF Nations League clash between USA and Trinidad and Tobago, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

On Thursday at Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas, the quest for a third successive CONCACAF Nations League crown will begin for the USA, who host Trinidad and Tobago in the opening leg of that quarter-final tie.

The Americans won the previous edition of this tournament, defeating Canada 2-0 in the final and were pre-seeded ahead of this competition, thus claiming an automatic place at this stage, while the Soca Warriors were second in Group A despite losing their final encounter 5-3 versus Curacao.

Match preview

A third successive Nations League title appears to be theirs to lose on paper, but for Gregg Berhalter and his team, there is a bonus this time, as advancement into the next phase of this competition comes with an automatic place in the 2024 Copa America.

Three days after a disappointing 3-1 defeat to Germany last month, the Americans reeled off an impressive 4-0 victory over Ghana, having never suffered consecutive defeats under Berhalter.

With three goals in the opening 22 minutes of that clash, it was the fastest trio of strikes that the US has managed against a non-CONCACAF opponent since at least 1931, though this team have failed to defeat their previous two opponents in this region in normal time, taking out Canada on penalties at the previous Gold Cup quarter-finals, before losing in a shootout versus Panama days later.

Since Berhalter returned to the national team, the Americans have won their last three games by a combined score of 10-0, while they have been equally impressive at Q2 Stadium, winning all three of their matches played in the Texas capital by a combined score of 8-0.

The Yanks have never lost a Nations League encounter at home, with their only defeat coming in the inaugural edition of this tournament in 2019 when their neighbours to the north, Canada, beat them 2-0 at BMO Field in Toronto.

They have won eight of their last nine matches in this competition since that defeat to Canada, boasting a 100% record all-time in Nations League matches played on American soil.

This tie will be the seventh time they square off in a two-leg affair, while the previous six all happened during World Cup qualification cycles with the US advancing on aggregate on four successive occasions, ahead of the 1986 (4-0 versus Netherlands Antilles), 1990 (5-1 against Jamaica), 2006 (6-2 versus Grenada) and 2010 finals (9-0 against Barbados) after losing their first two ties in 1962 (6-3 on aggregate to Mexico) and 1970 qualifying (3-0 versus Haiti).

The opening phase of this tournament appeared to be a rebirth of sorts for the Soca Warriors, who advanced beyond the group stage of a continental competition for the first time since making the quarter-finals of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Following their elimination from the Gold Cup this past summer with a pair of lopsided defeats versus Jamaica (4-1) and the USA (6-0), many were questioning whether Angus Eve was the right man to rebuild a TNT program that has not come close to making the World Cup since their inaugural appearance in 2006.

During the opening round of this tournament, though, Eve's youngsters showed plenty of character, winning their opening three matches by a single goal and adjusting well to his tactical tweaks with Trinidad employing three different formations in the group phase.

They played a lot more aggressively than we are accustomed to seeing under Eve, and eventually, it paid off as eight of their 10 goals came in the second half, including five beyond the 70th minute.

Trinidad have never lost a Nations League encounter in either League A or B when leading or tied at the interval but have lost three of their last four meetings when behind after 45 minutes at this tournament, with their only victory in that scenario coming on matchday three this season versus Guatemala (3-2).

The Soca Warriors have not won a knockout game at a CONCACAF tournament since the 2000 Gold Cup, stunning Costa Rica 2-1 in extra-time of that quarter-final fixture played in San Diego.

Eliminating the Americans from 2018 World Cup contention appears to have put TNT on the US hit list, with the Soca Warriors losing their previous three matches against them by a combined score of 19-0 after beating the Yanks 2-1 in October 2017.

USA form (all competitions):

Trinidad and Tobago CONCACAF Nations League form:

Trinidad and Tobago form (all competitions):

Team News

There will be two notable absences for the US heading into this fixture as Serie A strikers Christian Pulisic of AC Milan and Tim Weah from Juventus are out with hamstring injuries.

Berhalter went with a buddy system of sorts when selecting this squad as three sets of club teammates were chosen, including Tim Ream and Antonee Robinson from Fulham, Matt Turner and Ethan Horvath, who both feature with Nottingham Forest, while Sergino Dest, Malik Tillman and Ricardo Pepi are at PSV.

Yunus Musah can set a US men's national team record for most appearances before the age of 21, with the Milan man featuring 31 times internationally already, while Weston McKennie can become the 61st player in the history of this program to hit the half-century mark for caps should he see the field on Thursday, with the Juventus midfielder thus becoming the fifth-fastest American to reach that milestone.

Gio Reyna had a brace in their previous match against Ghana, his first two goals for the national team in over two years, Pulisic netted from the penalty spot and Folarin Balogun added the other one, his third in just six appearances since committing to the United States.

We saw two new faces to the Soca Warriors starting 11 from matchday three to four in the Nations League group stage, with Kaile Auvray and Reon Moore replacing Noah Powder and Tyrone Charles, while Levi Garcia returns to the squad for the first time since the 2023 Gold Cup after he was injured during a Champions League qualifier for his club side AEK Athens.

Powder, who plays for Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC, is one of six TNT players on this squad currently featuring for clubs in the United States, with the others being Ryan Telfer (Miami FC), Neveal Hackshaw (Oakland Roots), Shannon Gomez (San Antonio FC), Jesse Williams (Central Valley Fuego) and Rushon Sandy (Yavapai College).

Nathaniel James led the team with two goals in the group stage, including the winner versus Guatemala, which ultimately earned them a place in the last eight.

Kristian Lee-Him and Kareem Moses each scored their first goals for the Soca Warriors in their previous Nations League affair, with Moore notching his fourth for the national team.

USA possible starting lineup:
Turner; Dest, M. Robinson, Richards, A. Robinson; McKennie, Musah; P. Aaronson, Reyna, Tillman; Balogun

Trinidad and Tobago possible starting lineup:
Smith; Jones, Moses, J. Garcia, Russell; Hackshaw, Rampersad; Telfer, Muckette, Auvray; L. Garcia

We say: USA 3-0 Trinidad and Tobago

Even without two top-class attacking threats in Pulisic and Weah, the Yanks have an embarrassment of riches in the attack, and although they have not always been at their best since Berhalter returned, their overall quality always seems to overpower CONCACAF opponents.

It would take a Herculean effort for the Soca Warriors to upset an American side with many players featuring in the top European leagues, whereas most of the Trinidad squad apply their trade with clubs in either lower-tiered leagues or inferior ones when compared to most across Europe.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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