Only 3 days removed from Saturday night's 2-1 win over El Salvador, the U.S. National Team is back in action tonight, when they meet last place Trinidad & Tobago in an extremely important World Cup Qualifying match in Port of Spain.
The U.S. - who currently sit in second place in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying - have already beaten the Caribbean side once this year, thrashing the 'Soca Warriors' 3-0 on April 1st in Nashville. However, tonight's game figures to have a much different feel to it; as not only will the U.S. not have the luxury of home-field advantage, but they will also be playing under an immense amount of pressure. The Nats only have three games remaining in qualifying, and should they leave Trinidad with any less than three points, they will be putting themselves in great danger of finishing in (the dreaded) fourth position in CONCACAF Qualifying.
What's the big deal about a fourth place finish? Well, when CONCACAF Qualifying comes to a close about a month from now, only the top three teams are guaranteed a spot in the World Cup. The fate of the fourth place team is much less enviable. They get the honor of playing a 2-game series with the fifth place finisher in South America (which could be Argentina...) with their World Cup dreams on the line. In short, the U.S. wants to finish in the top three - and they could go a long way towards accomplishing that with a win tonight.
Another difference between tonight's match and April's is the man in charge of Trinidad & Tobago. When the sides last met, Francisco Maturano was the manager of the 'Warriors,' but he has since resigned. Maturano was replaced with a recent legend of the Trinidad & Tobago national team, 41-year-old Russell Latapy. However, Trinidad and Tobago's struggles have yet to subside under Latapy, who has lost 3 of 4 games as manager, with the last defeat coming at the hands of first place Honduras, who beat T & T 4-1 on Saturday.
Trinidad & Tobago's main attacking threat is Sunderland striker Kenwyne Jones. If the U.S. can shut down Jones (and winger Carlos Edwards for that matter...), who has already scored twice in the Premier League this year, then the Americans should walk away winners. If not, then I guess we'll see what happens...
But a match preview wouldn't be complete without a prediction, so... Here. It. Is.
**The Prediction -**
2-0 to the U.S. A downbeat T & T team will not come out very strong and they will get burned as the strike pair of Charlie Davies (if he is deemed fit to play, he picked up a calf injury on Saturday) and Jozy Altidore (who netted a hat trick in the sides previous meeting) will get the goals. I'll stand by my prediction even if Davies is unable to go, though I'll say that Landon Donovan would score in his absence.
Let's hear your predictions for this one. As always, the commenter who comes closest to the final score gets a shout out in the next preview, so good luck to all of you.