What happened the last time the USMNT visited Trinidad and Tobago?
The last time the USMNT visited Port of Spain, they suffered a severe blow.
to The last time the USMNT visited Port of Spain to take on Trinidad and Tobago, they lost the chance to play in the Russia 2018 World Cup. The Caribbean side won 2-1 and in the process handed a tough reality check to Bruce Arena and his players.
Trinidad and Tobago broke a run of seven consecutive World Cups for the Americans, who before Russia had not missed the biggest tournament in world soccer since missing out on the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.
The United States featured in every World Cup from 1990 through to 2014 but failed to qualify for 2018 under Arena. They did, however, return to the World Cup by qualifying for the 2022 tournament in Qatar.
“It’s the worst day of my career. I’m completely devastated, I don’t know how to put it into words. I want to apologise to all the fans who believed in us, we let them down,” said Omar Gonzalez after the match.
Trinidad and Tobago miss 1990 World Cup
Trinidad and Tobago went into that game with unfinished business. On 19 November 1989, USA player Paul Caligiuri gave the Stars and Stripes victory and knocked out Trinidad and Tobago in the process, denying them a place at the 1990 World Cup.
“In 1989, Alvin Jones’ dad, Kelvin Jones, a good left-back... He was on the bench in that loss we suffered in Port of Spain. Now, he (Alvin) has a chance to get revenge a few years later,” said Lasana Liburd, a renowned journalist from the Caribbean country after their victory over the United States in 2017.
Copa América at stake
Five years later, the story is quite different. The United States beat Trinidad and Tobago 3-0 at home in the first leg of their double-header to qualify for next year’s Copa América and the sides meet again on Monday.
Only two players from the current generation were present at that tough time for the US: Christian Pulisic - who was left out of the squad due to injury - and defender Tim Ream, who watched the game from the bench.
“I hope it will always be in the back of our minds,” said Berhalter during the press conference before the first match. “Just as we can accept the good things, we also have to accept the bad things. And it was a great learning moment for us collectively, the coaches involved, the players involved. In my opinion, it’s not about ignoring it, it’s about accepting it and leaning into it.”
The three-goal advantage going into the second leg gives the USA the chance to close out the tie, and a chance to celebrate their progression to the Copa América in 2024.