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United States vs Trinidad and Tobago: Preview, lineup discussion and how to watch online

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Crucial points at stake

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Soccer: International Friendly Men's Soccer-Venezuela at USA Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

You would think that seven months down the road from the start of the Hex people would at least pretend to start letting go. Honestly, they should. If only the other option was clearly better, we wouldn’t be in the predicament we’re in now. Now we have to sweat out being two goal favorites at home because of her emails Klinsmann’s desire to get us out of our comfort zone. See quote- why was he so insistent about guys playing in Europe???

Ok, so the quote I’m referencing didn’t actually come from Klinsmann. It came from Kasey Keller, and it came from the castle-dwelling Helmut aficianado a full 15 years before Klinsmann was the United States men’s national team head coach and two years before Klinsmann beat Keller in Paris during the 1998 World Cup. In essence, news from the past traveled to the future in the form of a conqueror of one our team’s all-time greats, and we handled being told what to do by the victor in all too predictable fashion.

Part of that narrative is painting a somewhat dire picture of this evening despite the US being overwhelming favorites and, rightly so- if you want a scapegoat to blame, you certainly wouldn’t make one out of the coach you just begged for. Make no mistake though; if the US fails to win tonight, that will be the first time they haven’t won against T&T in almost 10 years and only the second time they haven’t in 20. That’s over a span of 15 games, and both of those matches that didn’t end in a ‘W’ were at Port-of-Spain. If you’re looking for the last time the US didn’t win this fixture stateside, you have to go all the way back to 1989 which was the towards the tale end of a period where the US had failed to make the World Cup in 40 years.

Tl;dr- quit acting like tonight’s game is that nerve racking. It’s a self-indulgent narrative bordering on dishonesty that’s disrespectful of your audience’s intelligence. The National Team in in good shape. Here’s three things a propos to that state of wellness.

  1. Pulisic assuming the mantle. The Klinsmann era saw the phasing out of the Donovan era, and to the extent the latter’s elective and forced absence from the team allowed new blood to break through, the vacuum left by Donovan’s absence was also never filled totally by a similarly dynamic player. Pulisic looks primed to fill that gap, and I expect him to fully plant that flag this evening against the Soca Warriors. It seems just a matter of time until he’s judged to be the region’s best player.

2. MLS Development on the move. Seven of the 26 in WCQ camp and 12 out of the 40 man provisional roster for the Gold Cup came through an MLS academy or alternative MLS development scheme (e.g. Sueño in Villafaña’s case). Many of these players are not YNT/former YNT regulars which suggests club development schemes are starting to catch talent that might have fallen through the cracks in days gone by. This is particularly notable when you look at...

3. U20’s WC experience. At least 12 of the 21 U20s spent significant time in an MLS academy and many of those have signed their first professional contract with the club that ran the academy. The number of college players that make up the team continues to decrease, and this is starting to set up as a tournament where the US will consistently do well.

Part of this is because Europe puts most of their energy into the U21 UEFA tournament, and yet another part of it is the fact that a lot of top talent at that age group from other countries are not released by their pro teams. FIFA does not require clubs to let their pro players go to the U20 tournament, and for those clubs, the only real motive for releasing those players is that the tournament acts as a shop window for buyers.

Until recently, it was barely a worry to get players released for the US U20 team, but at this year’s edition, no fewer than 4 (Weston McKennie, Haji Wright, Josh Perez, and Christian Pulisic) were held back because their professional club saw nothing to be gained from sending them to the tournament. McKennie and Wright both spent significant time at MLS academies and both will start next year as candidates for Schalke’s 1st team. This is the leading age of US talent for the 2022 World Cup team, and there’s much more behind it at that age and younger. The actual Golden Generation that has been hyped in fits and starts for years with a myriad of ridiculous candidates is actually almost here. Until we transit to that after the World Cup next summer, enjoy the easy victories like the one we’ll enjoy tonight. USA 4. T&T 0- and if it doesn’t work out exactly like that, you can’t blame Hillary Clinton Jurgen Klinsmann.

How to watch

Date/Time: Thursday, June 8, 7 pm CT

Location: Dick's Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, Colorado

TV: FS1, UniMás, UDN

Online: Fox Sports 2 Go