E. HARTFORD, Conn. - It wasn't easy, but then again Chris Armas didn't think it would be. That's the way it goes in the final round of World Cup qualifying, and he's been through it before.
But after the United States knocked off Trinidad & Tobago 1-0 on Wednesday night at Rentschler Field on Brian McBride's goal after 91 seconds, the U.S. inched ever so closer to a coveted trip to Germany next year.
"I've not played in too many easy qualifiers. They're always a dogfight," the Chicago Fire midfielder said. "We score 91 seconds into the first half and you think it would open things up and it kind of did but it's just never easy. You always give credit to the teams you're playing against, they put everything into it and they're competing for the same reward."
The U.S. can clinch its berth in the World Cup with a win against rival Mexico at Columbus Crew Stadium and either a Trinidad or Panama win or draw Sept. 3.
"The amount of points we have now is right there and in the end it might be enough but we know for sure we need another three points to mathematically qualify," Armas said. "I remember qualifying last time, it was a great feeling in New England when we did it. When we officially did it, it was special so hopefully on our home soil we can take care of business."
Added Landon Donovan: "That would be absolutely a storybook ending and we're going to do everything we can to make that happen."
After McBride's goal, the second quickest in U.S. World Cup qualifying history, the USA had several chances to put the game away, especially in the first half. But Trinidad & Tobago goalkeeper Kelvin Jack kept his team in the game even after T&T was reduced to 10 men on Dennis Lawrence's 41st-minute red card.
Former D.C. United midfielder Bobby Convey, who has gained confidence with Reading FC in England this year, was perhaps the man of the match and was the most dangerous U.S. player going forward.
His low shot from 18 yards out was saved by Jack in the 36th minute and he rolled the ball just wide of the far post after racing in on goal courtesy of a sublime Donovan chip two minutes later.
In the 63rd minute Convey's right-footed blast from 25 yards out was stopped by Jack, who dived to his left. The rebound squirted loose and Claudio Reyna complained for a penalty on Avery John's tackle.
But Convey, who was given a rather dubious yellow card in the 31st minute, was sent off in the 88th minute by Mexican referee Marco Antonio Rodriguez and he will miss the match against Mexico.
"He did well, obviously, creating the first goal," U.S. manager Bruce Arena said. "He had a couple of good chances. Overall, Bobby did well. He's very fit, he's a player when he's in form. ... He and Eddie Lewis created a number of opportunities for us on the left flank, so I was very pleased by their play."
And Convey did well to set up McBride's 29th career national team goal. Getting the ball from John O'Brien on the left, he crossed to McBride in front and the Fulham striker knocked the ball in from eight yards out.
"Basically it was good ball movement," McBride said. "Bobby ran off a shoulder and was played in and I knew I just had to beat the guy to the spot. The angle that he was at, he was going to play the ball across. It was a nice ball in, and I just had to open up my foot."
Dylan Butler is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.