USA’s Jozy Altidore (pictured) has scored eight goals in CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. (Photo: Mexsport)
ORLANDO, Florida – The job’s not done.
Entering its last match in the final round CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier at Trinidad & Tobago on Tuesday, that phrase -- or versions of it – have become the United States’ unofficial mantra.
Several American players have expressed that sentiment after their emphatic 4-0 triumph over visiting Panama on Friday night.
“The job’s not done yet,” said striker Jozy Altidore, who scored two goals and set up another against the Panamanians. “We need a result and we know it’s going to be a tough place to play.”
A victory over the last-place Soca Warriors (1W-0D-8L, 3 points) guarantees the third-place Americans (3W-3D-3L, 12) a ticket to Russia 2018. A draw could suffice, as long as fourth-place Panama (2W-4D-3L, 10) doesn't make up a seven-goal differential when it hosts second-place Costa Rica.
The U.S. opened Hexagonal play with losses to Mexico and Costa Rica.
“It’s been a long road to put ourselves in this situation,” captain Michael Bradley commented. “Ultimately, we’ve played 15 games in qualifying and now we’ve got a chance in 90 minutes in Trinidad to finish the job and make sure we’re on the plane to Russia. I think the motivation will be huge to go down there and do whatever it takes.”
Altidore has warned that eliminated T&T could be a hungry side.
“These are the hardest games when you play teams that have nothing to play for,” concluded the Toronto FC star. “A lot of guys, some fresh faces, that want to prove they belong on the Trinidad national team, so for us the job is to go there and from the first minute, make it difficult."