Arena urges US to finish the job
|TRINIDAD & TOBAGO||US|
United States coach Bruce Arena has challenged his team to finish the job and seal World Cup qualification against Trinidad & Tobago after an emphatic rout of Panama which has transformed American fortunes.
Last Friday's 4-0 thrashing of Panama, where Borussia Dortmund star Christian Pulisic excelled in an attacking display, has left Arena's side almost through to next year's World Cup Finals.
Heading into the final round of games, the US are third in the standings with 12 points, two points clear of Panama and Honduras, their only rivals for the final automatic qualifying berth from Concacaf.
A win over Trinidad would guarantee that the US extend their record of qualifying for every World Cup since 1990.
And with a sizeable advantage in goal difference of plus five, compared to Panama (minus two) and Honduras (minus seven), a draw at Trinidad's 10,000-seater Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva will almost certainly be enough.
Nevertheless, Arena has warned his team to be ready for a stern physical challenge against Trinidad, even though the Caribbean team are already eliminated.
"The game in Trinidad won't be easy but we are in a good position now," Arena said.
"It will be challenging. We faced challenging conditions in Honduras and Panama so we will be ready. Trinidad are out but will be a handful."In 25 meetings between the two sides since 1982, the US have won 18, drawn four and lost only thrice.
The US will seek to extend that record of dominance with an attack spearheaded by Pulisic and Jozy Altidore, who scored twice against Panama.
"The job's not done yet," said Altidore. "We need a result and we know it's going to be a tough place to play."
Panama, who face Costa Rica, will secure fourth spot and a play-off against either Syria or Australia, if they match or better Honduras' result against already-qualified Mexico. - AFP