CLEVELAND, Ohio – The U.S. men’s national team showed how productive its offense could be Saturday night against Trinidad and Tobago.
The Americans defeated the Soca Warriors 6-0 at FirstEnergy Stadium to advance to the knockout stage of the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup. It was the first meeting of the two teams since October 2017, a 2-1 win by the Warriors in a 2018 World Cup qualifier that denied the U.S. a spot in the World Cup for the first time since 1986.
But Saturday’s game was totally different for the U.S. The Americans led 1-0 heading into the second half, and near the 65th minute began to be more aggressive. The Americans reeled off five goals in the half, two from forward Gyasi Zardes, one each from midfielder Christian Pulisic, forward Paul Arriola and defender Aaron Long.
“Part of the scouting report was the faster we play, they’re going to tire out later in the game,” said Long. “And I think that was very true. Once we scored the second goal, it was like wildfire.”
In the 66th minute, Zardes scored off a header from Nick Lima, then tallied again three minutes later. Pulisic made it 4-0 in the 73rd, and then Arriola scored in the 78th. Long completed the scoring with his second goal of the night in the final minutes.
Coach Gregg Berhalter was pleased with how the first half set up the team’s success in the second. “We felt that our fitness could have an effect on them,” Berhalter said.
For Trinidad and Tobago, the game was within reach until the onslaught began. But coach Dennis Lawrence said the reason the Soca Warriors lost was because they lost focus.
“How can you be so good for 65 minutes, and then so awful for the last 25 minutes, which is a little bit of a surprise,” Lawrence said of his team. “That’s all mentality. We have to change the mentality. And we have to learn to stand up and fight.”
The U.S. scored its first goal late in the first half. After his free kick in the 41st minute was blocked, Pulisic and the Americans quickly regained possession. Pulisic, who was near the left side of the box, passed the ball to Long, who was near the right side and headed it home for his first career goal with the men’s national team.
The Americans play their final match of group play at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas against Panama on Wednesday at 9 p.m.