Gyasi Zardes and Aaron Long scored two goals apiece, Christian Pulisic had a goal and two assists, Paul Arriola scored one of his own and Jordan Morris had two assists off the bench to give the USA a 6-0 win over the team that famously eliminated the Americans from World Cup qualifying in October 2017.
There's no erasing that with any result in the Gold Cup, but the U.S. sealed its place in the knockout stage of this competition while also eliminating Trinidad & Tobago with the win. The U.S. opened its Gold Cup title defense with a 4-0 win over Guyana, with new addition Tyler Boyd scoring twice. With Panama's 4-2 win over Guyana earlier Saturday, a U.S. win ensured that the group's two quarterfinal entrants would be decided after two games, with Guyana and T&T on no points and Panama and the USA on six apiece heading into their group finale.
U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter opted for the same XI that beat Guyana, with the slight change of the captain's armband going from Michael Bradley to goalkeeper Zack Steffen. That Weston McKennie, who appeared to injure his hamstring in the victory, was fit enough to start was a boon for the U.S.
Ironically, it was an unchanged side following a 4-0 win that took to the field in Trinidad on the night of the 2-1 defeat that prevented the U.S. from going to the 2018 World Cup. The U.S. ensured the similiarities between the games ended there with its performance.
Boyd, active in the final third for a second straight game, fired wide on the USA's first chance of the night, which came in the fourth minute after McKennie did well to collect a cross and lay it off for the winger.
Trinidad & Tobago threatened from a set piece in the seventh minute. Alvin Jones, who scored on a sensational strike in the win over the USA 20 months ago, whizzed a free kick from long distance just over the crossbar, not missing by much after a U.S. foul in the midfield.
Steffen was forced into a save two minutes later on the counterattack. The U.S. did well to defend the initial counter, but a crossed ball rolled into the path of Khaleem Hyland, who beat Tim Ream to the ball and took a 20-yard rip, which Steffen punched to safety.
When not on its heels, the U.S. was generally sharp on the ball, and its movement resulted in another chance for Boyd in the 16th minute. He shook a defender and put a left-footed blast from 18 yards on frame, but goalkeeper Marvin Phillip made the save.
Phillip was called into action again in the 34th minute. Bradley played a pass to his right to McKennie, who then crossed toward the back post to Zardes. The forward headed to the center of the box to try to find Arriola, but the T&T goalkeeper came out to make the play before the D.C. United winger could score.
Just as it appeared the match would get to halftime scoreless, the USA struck. Pulisic had an initial free kick from 25 yards blocked, but on the second wave of attack and with numbers still forward, Pulisic recovered possession and served a cross to the far post. He picked out Aaron Long, whose diving header beat Phillip at the post and gave the U.S. a 1-0 lead.
The U.S. looked to double the advantage in the 52nd minute. McKennie picked out Arriola with a pinpoint diagonal ball, but he pushed his chance just wide of the far post, spoiling the opportunity.
The U.S. came close again in the 55th, when Boyd let one fly from the edge of the box, straightaway, only to put it inches to the left of Phillip's goal. Boyd forced Phillip into a save four minutes later, taking a pass from right back Nick Lima, cutting centrally and trying to curl a left-footed shot inside the near post.
With the Americans having full momentum, Trinidad & Tobago nearly struck on the counter on the hour mark. Levi Garcia wound up with a clear look just inside the box, firing just high and letting the U.S. off the hook.
The visitors nearly scored again moments later, with Steffen called into action to deny Kevin Molino's clear chance.
Action picked up on the other end, as well. Pulisic set up Arriola for a point-blank chance that Phillip somehow denied, and as the U.S. pushed off the rebound, McKennie whiffed on an acrobatic scissor kick attempt.
The U.S. got the insurance goal it was seeking in the 66th minute. It emanated from a gorgeous ball from Bradley, whose diagonal picked out Lima by the far post. The San Jose Earthquakes defender headed across goal for Zardes, who tapped in to make it 2-0.
Zardes made it 3-0 three minutes later. Pulisic was the architect of the play, winning the ball on the sideline, cutting centrally and then slipping in the pass for Zardes just inside the box. The forward curled his right-footed chance by Phillip, putting the U.S. in full command.
Zardes should've completed his hat trick two minutes later. He had three opportunities to do so, first hitting the post, then being robbed by Phillip from point-blank range and then firing well high off a final chance in the 71st minute.
It wasn't Zardes, but the U.S. extended the lead to 4-0 in the 73rd minute. Jordan Morris, in off the bench, pounced on a giveaway in the Trinidad and Tobago half and surged forward, hitting a pass off the outside of his boot to his left to Pulisic. The new Chelsea attacker finished easily from close range, adding a goal to his two assists and putting the match well out of reach.
The lead ballooned to 5-0 in the 78th minute. Morris was again the set-up man, crossing for Arriola, who finished from in close, capping a four-goal, 12-minute period of dominance.
Arriola very nearly made it 6-0 in spectacular fashion, banging one off the crossbar off a powerful right-footed shot. Long did make it 6-0, though, getting his second of the night after McKennie had a chance saved but parried in front of the goal mouth, which capped the emphatic rout.
The U.S. and Panama will play for group positioning in Kansas City, Kan., on Wednesday night. Given its superior goal differential, the U.S. needs just a tie to take first in what will be the eighth straight Gold Cup in which the two sides will have met.
Here was the USA's lineup for the night:
Here are the rosters for both sides:
GOALKEEPERS: Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Tyler Miller (LAFC), Zack Steffen (Manchester City)
DEFENDERS: Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas), Omar Gonzalez (Toronto FC), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact), Matt Miazga (Chelsea), Tim Ream (Fulham), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC)
MIDFIELDERS: Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Weston McKennie (Schalke), Djordje Mihailovic (Chicago Fire), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew)
FORWARDS: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Tyler Boyd (Vitória Guimãres), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
GOALKEEPERS: Adrian Foncette (Police FC), Marvin Phillip (Central), Greg Ranjitsingh (Orlando City)
DEFENDERS: Daneil Cyrus (Al-Orobah), Aubrey David (Saprissa), Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force), Alvin Jones (OKC Energy), Carlyle Mitchell (Terminix La Horquetta Rangers), Mekeil Williams (OKC Energy)
MIDFIELDERS: Cordell Cato (OKC Energy), Levi Garcia (Beitar Jerusalem), Kevan George (Charlotte Independence), Neveal Hackshaw (Indy Eleven), Akeem Humphrey (Club Sando), Khaleem Hyland (Al-Faisaly), Joevin Jones (Seattle Sounders), Nathan Lewis (Lansing Ignite), Kevin Molino (Minnesota United FC), Duane Muckette (Memphis 901), Leston Paul (Memphis 901) Jomal Williams (W Connection)
FORWARDS: Lester Peltier (Al-Orobah), Shahdon Winchester (W Connection)