The USA returns to action for the first time since the Copa Centenario when it faces St. Vincent & the Grenadines on Friday in a key World Cup 2018 qualifier. For what’s at stake and where to watch, plus how the USA’s arrival has intensified a domestic political dispute with diplomatic implications and the Vincy Heat’s U.S. pro connections.
WHERE THEY’LL PLAY?
Arnos Vale Stadium – better known as the Playing Fields is the home of the Windward Islands cricket team. The cricket ground does not have lights, so Friday’s game will kick off in the afternoon.
WHERE TO WATCH?
The game will air on beIN Sports, which holds Concacaf rights for qualifiers played outside of the USA and Mexico, and will kick off at 3:30 p.m. ET.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Trinidad & Tobago and the USA can both clinch berths in the Hexagonal on Friday, though the Soca Warriors have the easier route from Group C into the Concacaf final round. All T&T needs to do is beat or tie Guatemala at home. The USA needs to win at St. Vincent & the Grenadines and have Guatemala to lose. A U.S. win and Guatemala tie will for all intents and purposes decide the second spot. The USA would head into Day 6 with an advantage on goal difference of six goals, plus the margin of victory against SVG.
Group C Standings:
PTS TEAM W-T-L +/-
10 Trin. & Tobago 3-1-0 11/3
7 USA 2-1-1 10/3
6 Guatemala 2-0-2 7/6
0 St. Vin. & Gren. 0-0-4 3/19
Group C Schedule:
Friday, Sept. 2
St. Vincent & Gren. vs. USA
Trin. & Tobago vs. Guatemala
Tuesday, Sept. 6
USA vs. Trin. & Tobago
Guatemala vs. St. Vincent & Gren.
AIRPORT FIASCO HOT POLITICAL ISSUE.
Jurgen Klinsmann took 23 players to St. Vincent & the Grenadines from the U.S. camp in Jacksonville via Barbados. The team took two 19-passenger puddle jumpers to complete the journey since SVG doesn’t have an international airport.
Construction delays at the Argyle International Airport have put its completion six years behind schedule. The opposition New Democratic Party put out a Facebook video mocking Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves‘ boast last October about the USA’s arrival at new airport. (Gonsalves’ Unity Labour Party has received funding from Taiwan for the airport project; the New Democratic Party wants to dump Taiwan and recognize China.)
It didn’t help the cause of SVG tourism that SI.com’s Grant Wahl tweeted about the three-wait to get through customs.
GOALKEEPERS: Brad Guzan (Middlesbrough/ENG), Ethan Horvath (Molde/NOR), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids).
DEFENDERS: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Matt Besler (Sporting KC), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/ENG), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca/MEX), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Moenchengladbach/GER), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United/ENG).
MIDFIELDERS: Paul Arriola (Tijuana/MEX), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Sacha Kljestan (NY Red Bulls), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund/GER), Caleb Stanko (FC Vaduz/LIE), Graham Zusi (Sporting KC).
FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Rubio Rubin (FC Utrecht/NED), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (Hamburg/GER).
Vincentian customs apparently didn’t discriminate between locals and tourists.Myron Samuel, back from the Seattle Sounders 2, had get the SVG soccer federation to intercede on his behalf so he could get his personal belongings through customs. They included 16 pairs of soccer shoes and pair of goalie gloves.
Oalex Anderson, who graduated from S2 to the Sounders’ first team, and Samuel are the Vincy Heat’s two U.S.-based pros. The connection between SVG and the Sounders: Ezra Hendrickson, the former Vincy Heat star, is the S2 head coach.
The only other pro in the Vincy Heat squad is Cornelius Stewart, who plays for Finland’s PS Kemi. Gavin James plays non-league soccer in England at Slough Town.
Nazir Mc Burnette