US-Trinidad: Mike's Match Memo

Michael Reed
Date Published: 

USA vs Trinidad & TobagoDwight Yorke and Mike Burns in action.

A modest crowd of 10,000 turned out on a pleasant if smoggy night for the US debut in the Gold Cup.

Sam's Army met beneath the Anaheim Stadium sign for suds and singing before the match. Big Don and his dad Vince came all the way from Buffalo (and who wouldn't, with all that snow!).

I drove down from Frisco to see the match, and I wasn't disappointed. The US, despite a seeming disadvantage in team speed and foot skills, leaped immediately on the attack. This set the tone for the rest of the game, as Trinidad threatened only on counter-attacks. But what counter-attacks! Latapy (the best Trinidad player, IMHO) played a splendid through pass to Dwarika, who rounded a stranded Agoos for a clear run at goal and a splendid shot to the far post.

The US recovered their composure and soon began gaining a succession of corner kicks which looked dangerous every time they were taken. At 15 min, Lalas rose to head a Ramos corner to an unmarked Wynalda at the far post, who poked it in with his head. Twenty minutes later, a carbon copy as Lalas passed back from the end line to an again unmarked Wynalda. As Eric drilled the ball past the keeper, he turned to the crowd with two upraised fingers-one for each goal. He was clearly thrilled to regain his scoring touch after a difficult season in Germany.

Just before halftime, however, the US again fell victim to the counter-attack as Wise intercepted a sloppy Reyna pass near the US area and dribbled Lalas and Balboa on the way to a lovely pass to his three unmarked teammates in Kasey's six yard box. Dwarika again finished with aplomb, placing the shot in the roof of the net. Two goals in the Sammer's faces! There would be hell to pay.

After the interval, the US began to exploit the weak outside defenders with overlaps to Jones and Moore, and crosses outside the penalty area to Wynalda. The Trinidad keeper, Russell, desperately handled the ball away from Wynalda outside the area, and gave up a free kick. The crowd began rumbling with anticipation, remembering Wynalda's splendid free kicks against Switzerland in WC 94 and Chile in the Copa America. However, Wynalda played the ball short to Ramos, who trapped it for Moore to place a perfect curling shot inside the far post.

"At last the local boy makes good" remarked my neighbor (Moore went to UCLA). Save a wonderful sliding save from Keller later in the half the rest of the game was all US, and Wynalda in particular was unlucky not to score a few more.

At the whistle, a relieved and delighted crowd saluted the US players, who acknowledged our cheers and thanked Sam's Army in particular.

Several players went into the stands to shake hands and sign autographs. All in all, the US looked a little rusty on defense (understandable considering the lapse of time since their last game), but looked very dangerous on the attack.

Although all the US goals came from set pieces in this game, I think we can expect more chances and better shots in the next game.

US 3(2) Trinidad 2(2)
Wynalda 15,34 Dwarika 6, 43
Moore 54

US: Keller, Balboa, Lalas, Caligiuri, Agoos, Sorber (Burns 60), Reyna,
jones, Ramos, Moore (Lassiter 80), Wynalda

Trinidad: Russell, Rougier, Julien (St. Louis 89), Demmin, Wise (Faustin
60), Eve, Dwarika, Latapy, Yorke, Nakhid, Theodore

A: 12,425