Barstool’s USMNT WCQ Preview – The “Once More For All The Marbles” Edition
Sam’s Soccer Safe Space for Stoolies
Welp. So here we are. One win from punching our ticket to Puty’s World Cup. It has not been pretty these last few months. In fact it has been downright fugly at many points. And, sure, you would have liked it if the USMNT had already cemented its spot in the big dance prior to the last qualifier of the Hex, but I am instead choosing to look at the situation like this [through extremely rose-tinted glasses]: (1) waiting until the last minute only heightens the drama and (2) if you can’t beat a country with an ampersand in their name then you don’t really deserve to qualify in the first place.
Are there scenarios in which we could advance if we draw or even – gasp – lose tonight? Yes, there are, and I’ll mention those briefly. But let’s be serious, anything less than a win would be an embarrassing result so let’s keep our eyes on the prize: THREE POINTS… OFFICIAL QUALIFICATION… and thus the opportunity to repay Russia once and for all for their election shenanigans by rubbing our big sweaty American balls all over the face of their latest attempt at buying respectability on the world’s stage.
USMNT vs T&T
Table as it stands right now:
And the three games to be played tonight that will decide which one of the US, Panama and Honduras qualifies for WC18, which plays Australia in a home-and-home playoff, and which goes home and cries like little babies:
As for the various permutations in which we could advance, here is a breakdown:
But, again, the only result anyone should care about is winning. Period. End of story.
USMNT vs T&T
Kickoff: 7:00 pm CT
Location: Some Tiny Ass Stadium In The Middle Of Nowhere With A Waterlogged Field
TV: beIN Sports
Trinidad & Tobago
The Trinis have nothing to play for at this point but pride.
There is not much to say about the team. The coach has brought in a lot of younger guys now that they have been eliminated, with their most dangerous players – Seattle’s Joevin Jones and AZ Alkmaar’s Levi Garcia – located in midfield. Shut those two down and T&T will be useless.
In fact the biggest “threat” T&T presents is the field conditions. Because they can, and also because they are lil hoes, they decided to move the game from the larger “National Stadium” in Port of Spain to Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva. Anybody paying attention knows what the field has been looking like this week, with these pictures being taken yesterday:
Some people might suggest it is pretty embarrassing for a field to look like that one day before such an important game. Others might counter that this is karmic payback for when we forced Costa Rica to play in a blizzard during WC14 qualifying. Those who have been around a while know that it is just CONCACAF being CONCACAF.
There is no doubt that a wet, heavy field does NOT play to the USMNT’s strengths of playing soccer, and instead could turn this into some sort of ugly slogfest. Avoiding silly, stupid mistakes has to be the #1 goal. Which is an interesting segue into…
The USMNT is coming off a very nice 4-0 whupping of Panama on Friday, and while several players stood out – BVBabyjesus and to a lesser extent Bobby Wood and Jozy Altidore (and DeAndre Yedlin on the other end) – I couldn’t help thinking the results was at least as reflective of the Panamanians coming in with the extremely dumb strategy of actually trying to play soccer. Outside of Mexico and Costa Rica though, that is a recipe for disaster against a team with as much individual talent (relatively speaking, of course) as the US.
You can bet that T&T is not going to make the same mistake.
So the two keys are BEING AGGRESSIVE on offense and actually running at defenders and creating space for teammates, something that the USMNT tends to struggle with here and there (and could be all the more difficult given the atrocious field conditions), and AVOIDING STUPID MISTAKES on defense. It sounds simple because it is… or it should be anyway.
Arena announced he is sticking with the same starting XI as he went with versus Panama, which is sort of understandable given the result, HOWEVER, Omar Gonzalez makes my bowels loose with nervousness every time he is on the damn field so I absolutely think it is a mistake starting him over Geoff Cameron. That said, it is what it is. Just gotta hope that T&T does not take advantage of Gonzo’s inevitable brainfart (or three).
This is going to be ugly. If it was a real soccer game played on a regular field without puddles and divots everywhere I’d say the US would probably win 3-0. Today though, I don’t know. If T&T somehow gets an early goal, oh good god, I don’t even want to think about what would happen at that point. I’ll take a shot in the dark and say they shut us down in the first half, everybody on twitter starts having a shit-fit… but Pulisic once again saves the day with a goal early in the second half and Jozy follows it up with a late one to salt it away.
USA to win 2-0.
Real quick shout out to the ridiculousness that is about to go down in South American World Cup qualifying where seven teams are shooting for three automatic spots (2nd through 4th) and one playoff (5th), and Argentina is in the uncomfortable position of actually having to root for Brazil to beat Chile. Lots of craziness is going to happen.
Little sad I am going to be too distracted to enjoy it, but it is what it is.
Annnnnnnnnnyway, I’ll be back on Friday with the next instalment of weekend preview… and needless to say, there are some good games coming up.
For now though, one thing and one thing only matters: