ST. PAUL, Minn. – Before the US men’s national team could depart Allianz Field following following their 4-0 victory over Guyana to open Group D play, questions shifted to their next Concacaf Gold Cup opponents.
Yes, that one. The Trinidad and Tobago national team that sent the US crashing out of 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying with their stunning upset win on Oct. 10, 2017.
But any sort of revenge prospects may be more important to supporters than the players, only a few of whom were at Ato Boldon Stadium that night in Couva.
“Totally different team,” said US midfielder Michael Bradley. “There’s like two or three guys here who were in Trinidad. So I’m not sure other than it being a nice narrative for you guys, I’m not sure inside of the group if it carries a whole lot of weight.”
And those who were on the field for T&T’s 2-1 qualifying victory aren’t quite sure what they’ll feel when they look across at the Soca Warriors come Saturday (8 pm ET | FS1, Univision, UDN TSN).
“I think it’s just the opinion of each person,” said winger Paul Arriola. “For me, you know, it will be a little different than other players, I’m sure. But it’s the second game of the group stage that we have to win and really solidify our spot in the group.
“I can probably tell you more after the game how it was, but leading into the game right now, it’s just focus, recover, and get onto the field.”
What Arriola is sure of is T&T will be totally focused from the outset, in part because of their opening 2-0 loss to Panama. With the Gold Cup field expanded to 16 teams, only the top two finishers in each group advance to the quarterfinals, meaning T&T needs at least a draw and maybe a victory to remain in contention.
In that respect, Tuesday’s game against a Guyana side amped to play their nation’s first ever game in a major tournament may have provided a good test.
“I thought tonight we did a pretty good job of the initial intensity and we were really able to come into our own afterward,” Arriola said. “But it will be extremely important to get off with our right foot forward against [T&T]. They’re a physical team, they’re a fast team. They need the three points just as much or maybe even more than we do.”
A larger portion of the Soca Warriors’ squad from the teams’ previous meeting remains. Six of those who started against the US in Couva were also in coach Dennis Lawrence’s XI against Panama.
Does that mean the Americans will face a T&T side carrying more confidence into the meeting than in previous encounters? Bradley isn’t so sure.
“That’s not a question for me,” he said. “Given the result tonight, I expect them to come out and play like they need to get three points. I have no idea if the game from two years ago means anything to them."