There were quite a number of headlines out there before the kick off of the CONCACAF Women’s championship game between the U.S. and Trinidad and Tobago. Of course there was the talk of the beginning of qualifying for the 2015 Women’s World Cup. But there was more than that. From Hope Solo’s upcoming trial for allegations of domestic abuse to Trinidad and Togbago’s financial hardships, there was a lot that could mentally affect the players.
Despite all that, however, the match promised to be an interesting one. The U.S. have had an up and down year; from several losses earlier in 2014 and a coaching change, to notching several wins in their last recent games. Getting a solid win to start off the qualifying for World Cup was definitely priority number 1.
The game started fast, both teams working to take dominance early in the match. The U.S. pressed high straight out of the gate, but T&T were able to hold strong to break down the fast plays of the U.S.
Alex Morgan almost had an early goal in the third minute. Megan Rapinoe curved a corner kick in and Morgan slipped in to have a nice header toward goal. It would go just above the crossbar however.
The U.S. continued to play quick, attempting to push balls forward for Abby Wambach and Morgan up front. But the T&T defense held strong, continuing to hold under the pressure and break up the plays.
In the 9th minute, Rapinoe sped up the left wing and sent a great ball in front of goal. But Wambach was unable to intercept it. Morgan go ahold of the ball once again, but was unable to get her shot in goal either.
Another almost goal for the U.S. happened in the 15th minute off another Rapinoe corner. This time it would be Press who would dash toward the near-post. But T&T’s keeper Kimika Forbes made a big save, keeping the score line 0-0.
As the first half went on, the fast pace of the U.S. began to settle more and that was when it seemed like they were finally getting a handle on the game. In the 24th minute, Rapinone sent a rocket shot through traffic and it just went wide of goal. The U.S. were continuing to knock on goal but couldn’t quite get the combination to score.
T&T got their first chance in the U.S. half and on goal in the 28th minute. After racing up the wing, the ball was sent in front of goal to a rushing Tasha St. Louis. However, Christine Rampone defended well and got the ball out of danger.
Getting a bit more foot hold in the game, T&T rushed again up the left flank a minute later but once again, the U.S. defense was able to clean up the play.
After all the quickness at the beginning of the match and all the pressure, the game slowed down quite a bit as the U.S. eased up and weighted their options to try to break the T&T defense.
Carli Lloyd nearly broke the deadlock in the 39th with a crazy shot from outside the 18. It was a great shot that had T&T keeper scrambling and making another big save for her team.
T&T had their own quick play in the 41st as Arin King lobbed a ball to Kennya Cordner who raced up to the end line. She tried to flick it around Hope Solo at the near post, but Solo was able to pick it up neatly.
The urgency from the U.S. came back in the dying minutes of the half. They tested T&T keeper Forbes over and over, but she continued to make killer saves, being that last brick wall for T&T. Her efforts combined with the defense kept the score at 0-0 at the end of the first half.
Naturally at the beginning of the second 45, the U.S. came right out with the same fire they had in the beginning. Lloyd set up a great pass to Wambach, who was in near goal. She kicked it back to a rushing Morgan, but Morgan would just miss the shot on goal.
A minute later, Wambach would try for goal again. Meghan Klingenberg would chase the ball to the end line and turn, chipping it back toward Wambach in front of goal. Her header would just graze past the far post though.
Again, Wambach would almost find the net in the 52nd minute. Press would send in a great ball to Wambach who was lurking right in front of goal. Forbes came off her line, however, and knocked it right out of Wambach’s path. Rapinoe followed behind to try to get the rebound, but she would sail it over goal.
Finally, Abby Wambach would get her header goal in the 55th minute. Alex Morgan would get the ball and run down the wing, beating her defender and Forbes as she worked up to the end line. Her pass across the front of goal came to Wambach’s head and the ball finally hit the back of the net, giving the U.S. the lead.
T&T had an opportunity in the 61st as Cordner took the ball forward and made a shot, but it would have too much power and go over the net.
The U.S. would keep up their fast-paced pressure, but T&T weren’t sitting back quietly. A bad giveaway by Solo in the 75th minute saw Cordner doing her best to try to get a shot off, but she would be unsuccessful.
The game fell into the same play that occurred at the end of the first half – the U.S. kept up their dominance, continuing their high line with fast pressure. The T&T defense held strong, getting their foot in wherever they could to deter the U.S. and Forbes continued to make incredible saves.
In the end, the score would stay at 1-0 in favor of the U.S. However, it still wasn’t a game filled with all positive for them. Really, the goal tally for the ladies should have been quite a bit higher, considering. Not to knock the T&T players, who showed a great effort as well as discipline in the back line. Many other teams would and have crumbled under such pressure from the U.S. While it was frustrating to see them get their way in denying the U.S. a goal time and time again, one has to commend them for the massive effort they put forth.
It’s clear the U.S. aren’t squeaky clean on all their areas. Communication, finishing, passing through the mid are all areas that are in need of work for them. They definitely could have used those missed goals for the goal differential; but a clean sheet, one goal and three points isn’t anything to turn your nose up at either.
The USWNT’s next match up will be against Guatemala Friday.