USA’s Paul Arriola (green jersey) has made six appearances in CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, scoring one goal. (Photo: AFP Services)
COUVA, Trinidad – For the United States, Tuesday night’s World Cup Qualifying mathematics are really quite simple: defeat host Trinidad & Tobago and book a ticket to Russia 2018.
Anything less – combined with other CONCACAF Hexagonal results – could make the Americans’ life infinitely more complicated.
“We are in a good position, but we are not there yet, and everyone is aware of that,” said midfielder Paul Arriola. “No one will be satisfied with anything apart from a win.”
If the third-place U.S. (3W-3D-3L, 12 points; GD+5) loses, then Panama (2-4-3, 10; GD-2) would gain the region’s third and last berth with a win at second-place Costa Rica (4-4-1, 16).
Even a draw could play havoc with the direct qualification scenarios, so the U.S. has no plans on coasting at Ato Boldon Stadium.
"People take it for granted and say that you should just qualify," said defender DaMarcus Beasley, participating in his fifth WCQ competition. "People don’t understand how big qualifying for the World Cup is, how much blood, sweat and hard work goes into a qualifier. Hopefully, we get a good result on Tuesday and we can celebrate a little bit when we do it. It’ll be a great end to a long qualifying campaign.”
The fitness of midfielder Christian Pulisic, who recorded a goal and an assist in the 4-0 win over Panama on Friday, is being monitored. U.S. head coach Bruce Arena was confident the 19-year-old would be available to play.