The United States defeated Trinidad & Tobago, 1-0, off a Abby Wambach header in the 54th minute in the second match of the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship. The win puts the U.S. atop Group A play alongside a Haiti team that defeated Guatemala, 1-0, in the tournament’s opening game.
The first 15 minutes saw the United States push to take advantage of Trinidad & Tobago but were thwarted by a lack of finishing off of set pieces and saves by Trinidadian goalkeeper Kimika Forbes. The Women’s Caribbean Cup winners thoroughly frustrated the United States on the night as Forbes was tested throughout but her defense held firm against a 4-2-4 formation from the U.S. Though sitting somewhat deep defensively, Trinidad & Tobago left the bus in the parking lot and came to play, looking for opportunities on the counter.
After halftime, the U.S. continued to press for the game’s first goal but were again halted by a well-organized Trinidad & Tobago defense and lack of finishing. Alex Morgan’s shot went over the bar not more than 10 seconds into the half and an open net went undisturbed by a Megan Rapinoe misfire in the 52nd minute. The game-winner came in the 54th minute when Abby Wambach buried an open-net header off a Morgan cross. That would be all the scoring for the night as the U.S. failed to connect on multiple scoring opportunities. Trinidad & Tobago’s Kennya Cordner was unable to capitalize off of two Hope Solo giveaways as the U.S. back line recovered in time to deflate any opportunity.
Cordner and the aforementioned Forbes were standouts for the Soca Princesses. We’ve seen Cordner in Seattle with the National Women’s Soccer League’s Reign FC and the W-League Seattle Sounders Women. She possesses speed from the flanks and isn’t shy about cutting back across the middle and taking on defenders. Cordner taking on the outside backs from Guatemala and Haiti will be fun to watch in the latter portion of group play. Forbes stood on her head throughout the contest and organized her back line while commanding her box. Despite giving up the goal, Forbes was one of the reasons Trinidad & Tobago stayed in the match from start to finish.
Trinidad & Tobago will need to stay focused against Haiti on Friday evening. That match could very well determine who finishes second in the group and keep their World Cup dreams alive. Head Coach Randy Waldrum has been in these situations before, so he’ll be able to motivate them for their next match.
For the United States, was this evening a wake-up call for the squad? Perhaps. Did they get the win? Yes. Did they get a clean sheet? Yes. Other than that, there wasn’t a lot to be positive about. Lack of finishing is always a concern but the midfield lacked flow and cohesion, and provided Trinidad & Tobago with opportunity to run straight through the center of the park, especially in the latter portion of the second half. Head Coach Jill Ellis will need to find someone to provide a spark and find the back of the net. Three points is three points, but it’s safe to say the evening didn’t quite go as the U.S. had planned. Resiliency has always been part of the U.S. core so expect the squad to come out strong against a Guatemala side that was overmatched by a 10-player Haiti in its opening game.