US advance to Nations League semis despite Trinidad defeat
- Mike Johnshon
- 21 Nov, 2023
The United States secured their spot in the CONCACAF Nations League semifinals on Monday despite experiencing a 2-1 loss to Trinidad and Tobago away from home.
As defending Nations League champions, they advanced with a 4-2 overall win, yet the second leg in Port of Spain on Monday became more challenging due to their self-inflicted troubles just before halftime.
Under Gregg Berhalter's guidance, the team continued their momentum from the previous Thursday's home match, a 3-0 victory, by asserting dominance over Trinidad and Tobago right from the start, creating several early opportunities.
In the initial minutes, Brenden Aaronson's shot was expertly saved by Trinidad's goalkeeper Denzil Smith, while Folarin Balogun's promising attempt was blocked by the home team's keeper in the fourth minute.
The early control exerted by the US paid off at the 25-minute mark when right-back Sergino Dest delivered a precise cross into the area, allowing defender Antonee Robinson to stoop low and head home for a 1-0 lead.
However, the game's dynamics changed drastically in the 39th minute due to Dest's ill-advised actions.
Following Dest's impulsive act of kicking the ball away, referee Walter Lopez booked the US defender, who then received a second yellow card for persistently arguing with the Guatemalan official.
Stand-in captain Tim Ream and goalkeeper Matt Turner both criticized the dismissed US defender as he left the field after an unnecessary outburst.
This incident visibly disrupted the Americans' rhythm, and Trinidad capitalized just before halftime when Reon Moore received a through ball and struck a powerful first-time shot into the net beyond Turner's reach.
Despite Trinidad's limited clear opportunities in the second half, they took the lead at the 57-minute mark through Alvin Jones' free-kick.
While Jones' set piece from outside the box was well-executed, US goalkeeper Turner could have performed better, as his attempt to punch the ball away inadvertently deflected it into his own net.
Nevertheless, Trinidad never seemed likely to score the three additional goals required for a significant upset, and Team USA maintained their lead to secure an overall victory, guaranteeing their place in next year's Copa America as well.
"Disappointed we didn't get the win," US goalscorer Robinson said afterwards. "We started the game pretty well and had things under control and then a moment of unprofessionalism kind of went against us.
"But we'll take it," he added. "We're in the semifinals of the Nations League and we're in the Copa America, so it's still been a successful break."
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