The US men’s national team square off against Trinidad & Tobago in the Concacaf Nations League, as head coach Gregg Berhalter is eager for his side to get things going in the continental competition.
The two nations last met in the Gold Cup over the summer, with the Stars and Stripes dominating in a 6-0 victory before crashing out of the tournament to Panama in the semifinals.
Now, with the Nations League back up and running, Berhalter will want his team to kick things off in convincing fashion at Q2 Stadium.
“It’s now about competing, you know we want to win the Nations League again,” Berhalter said of his side’s progression through the September and October international fixtures. “This [game] will set us up to do this, we want to play in the Copa America, this will set us up to do so.”
The USMNT are heavy favorites ahead of the clash, but Berhalter believes that this isn’t necessarily the same Trinidad & Tobago team that we saw several months back.
“We’re looking forward to competing against a much improved Trinidad team…and then going to Trinidad and playing them on Monday.
“After the Gold Cup, [Trinidad & Tobago] shed half their roster basically and said ‘okay, we’re starting over,’ and you can see the hunger in this new group,” said Berhalter. “[There are] very few carryover players from that tournament, and they have good energy, they’re good at set pieces, they’re good at counterattacking and they have quality.
“We have to be wary of them and I think some of the inexperience that they have in this case helps them.”
Berhalter’s squad triumphed in the 2023 Nations League final over neighbors Canada, as goals from Folarin Balogun and Chris Richards sealed the title. The team will be looking to add to their trophy haul starting with the quarterfinal clash against their Caribbean opponents.
“When we talk about our goals and what we want to do as a team, it’s easy for us to sit here on this side and say we want to change soccer in America forever,” he said. “But the real meat of it is we have to win games like this and we have to position ourselves to win trophies in the Nations League and to compete in the Copa America. That’s essential for us.”
The Stars and Stripes will be without key figures Christian Pulisic and Tim Weah, as the duo playing in the Serie A are both dealing with thigh injuries. Berhalter will give opportunities to the likes of Brenden Aaronson, Kevin Paredes and Alex Zedejas to showcase their skills on the wing with Pulisic and Weah out through injury.
The two nations clash on November 16 in the first leg of the quarterfinals at Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas.