Ricardo Pepi bails out USMNT against 10-man Trinidad and Tobago


Gomez: USMNT performance vs. Trinidad and Tobago makes me uneasy

Hercules Gomez says that the US Men's National Team's "lacklustre" performance against Trinidad and Tobago makes him feel "uneasy" about the return leg.

Ricardo Pepi, Antonee Robinson and Gio Reyna scored late goals in a span of 7 minutes, 23 seconds, leading the United States over Trinidad and Tobago 3-0 on Thursday night in the opener of a two-legged series for a berth in next year's Copa America.

Pepi entered in the 66th minute and put the U.S. ahead in the 82nd with an angled shot from a Robinson pass in the teams' Concacaf Nations League quarterfinal.

Robinson doubled the lead in the 86th with a long-range left-foot shot that deflected off Alvin Jones and past goalkeeper Denzil Smith, and Reyna added his third goal in two matches in the 89th after a quick touch from Folarin Balogun.

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The second leg of the total-goals quarterfinal series is Monday night in Trinidad, where the Americans were denied a berth in the 2018 World Cup with a 2-1 loss in October 2017.

The U.S. held a man advantage after Noah Powder, a 25-year-old Trinidad midfielder from Edison, New Jersey, was ejected in the 38th minute. Powder was shown his second yellow card for swinging a leg and tripping Weston McKennie from behind.

United States players celebrate after scoring a goal against Trinidad and Tobago in the Nations Leagues.
United States players celebrate after scoring a goal against Trinidad and Tobago in the Nations Leagues.
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But with the 11th-ranked Americans missing Christian Pulisic, Tim Weah and Tyler Adams because of injuries, they struggled against No. 99 Trinidad despite 75% possession in the first half. The Americans outshot the Soca Warriors 7-0 in the half but put no shots on target.

Jamaican referee Oshan Nation initially awarded a penalty in the 60th minute when defender Daniel Phillips slid from behind into McKennie in the penalty area, but the call was reversed after a video review by Canadian Drew Fisher.

The second leg will be at Port-of-Spain's Hasely Crawford Stadium, 34 years and one day after Paul Caligiuri's goal at that stadium lifted the U.S. to a 1-0 win over the Soca Warriors and the Americans' first World Cup appearance in 40 years.

About 20 miles south in Couva, Trinidad beat the U.S. in 2017 and ended the Americans' streak of World Cups at seven.

The win puts the Americans on track to reach the semifinals of the Nations League and clinch a spot in next summer's Copa America, which will be hosted in the U.S. and feature six teams from Concacaf along with the traditional 10 teams from South America.