PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – Trinidad and Tobago stunned United States 2-1 here Tuesday night, to end an otherwise disappointing 2018 World Cup campaign on a high and dump the CONCACAF powerhouses out of the Russia showpiece.
Playing at the Ato Boldon Stadium, an Omar Gonzalez own goal in the 17th minute put the hosts ahead before Alvin Jones smashed home a long-range effort in the 37th, to hand them a 2-0 lead at half-time.
The US pulled one back almost immediately on the resumption through Christian Pulisic courtesy of another long-range strike but though they pressed for the remainder of the second half, the US failed to come up with the all-important equaliser. To compound matters, Honduras shocked group winners Mexico 3-2 in San Pedro Sula while Panama pulled off another surprise by beating Costa Rica 2-1 in Panama City, to finish ahead of the US in the standings.
Mexico topped the standings with 21 points, Costa Rica finished second with 16 while Panama and Honduras ended third and fourth respectively on 13 points apiece.
The defeat left USA fifth on 12 while T&T, who were eliminated ahead of the final series of games, finished bottom on six points.
Entering the game with qualification within their grasp, the US found themselves under pressure from early and fell behind just after the quarter-hour mark.
Jones went down the right flank and curled a cross into the box which was just beyond the reach of Shahdon Winchester, and Gonzalez’s attempted clearance managed to find the upper right-hand corner of his own net with goalie Tim Howard beaten.
T&T then doubled their lead eight minutes before half-time courtesy of a wonder strike from Jones, his first international goal. Finding himself free down the right flank, he blasted a shot from about 27 yards out which gave Howard no chance as it sailed in at the far post.
The 23-year-old then tested Howard again shortly before the break when he sent in a dangerous free kick which the experienced custodian just managed to push away. T&T held a comfortable 2-0 lead at the break but this was whittled down inside the first two minutes when Pulisic collected a short pass from Darlington Nagbe and hit a rasping drive past Adrian Foncette from the top of the box.
The USA furiously chased the equaliser but with the game now wide open, T&T had another chance to put the contest to bed in the 63rd minute but Winchester’s shot was saved by Howard.
Foncette then produced three key saves to preserve the scoreline. First, he tipped a chip from Clint Dempsey over the bar before parrying a shot from the same player onto the uprights and away from danger in the 77th minute.
In the dying moments of the game, Foncette also pushed away a point blank header from Bobby Wood, to ensure T&T took full points for only the second time in the CONCACAF final round.