United States at Trinidad and Tobago

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What: Eighth of 10 World Cup qualifiers for each team.

Where: Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain, Trinidad.

When: 7 p.m. TV: ESPN Classic, Galavision.

U.S. PROBABLE STARTERS (club in parentheses): GK Tim Howard (Everton, England); Ds Steve Cherundolo (Hanover, Germany), Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan, Italy), Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes, France), Jonathan Spector (West Ham, England); MFs Clint Dempsey (Fulham, England), Michael Bradley (Moenchengladbach, Germany), Ricardo Clark (Houston), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles); Fs Charlie Davies (Sochaux, France), Jozy Altidore (Hull City, England).


Honduras 4-2-1 (13 points), United States 4-2-1 (13), Mexico 4-3-0 (12), Costa Rica 4-3-0 (12), El Salvador 1-4-2 (5), Trinidad and Tobago 1-4-2 (5). Top three advance to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa; the fourth-place team enters a playoff against a South American opponent in November.

Other Games: Honduras at Mexico, 8:30 p.m. (Telemundo), Costa Rica at El Salvador, 9 p.m.

Outlook: Historically, by this stage of CONCACAF's final-round schedule, one or two teams are on the brink of clinching berths. But with one point separating four nations, the Americans and other contenders have a slim margin of error. This game would appear to be the least stressful road test for the U.S. squad -- against a team that is virtually eliminated -- but the Americans have labored for away points in the past two rounds: narrow victories at Guatemala and Cuba and a loss at Trinidad and Tobago last year, defeats at Mexico and Costa Rica this summer, and a comeback tie in El Salvador in March. A tie Wednesday would guarantee no worse than a fourth-place finish, while a victory would position the U.S. team to perhaps clinch an automatic berth Oct. 10 at Honduras. The finale is four days later against Costa Rica at RFK Stadium. D Jay DeMerit (groin strain) is unavailable for the second straight game, but Onyewu is back from a yellow card suspension -- a return that might lead to several defensive adjustments following an untidy, 2-1 home victory over El Salvador on Saturday. Altidore had a hat trick in the first final-round meeting with Trinidad and Tobago, a 3-0 victory April 1 in Nashville. The Soca Warriors are coming off a 4-1 loss at Honduras on Saturday.

-- Steven Goff

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