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U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM

September 9, 2009
SQUEAKING BY
Clark's goal lifts U.S. over T&T, 1-0

by Michael Lewis
Editor, Big Apple Soccer.com

Ricardo Clark scored the only goal for the U.S. in a 1-0 win over Trindidad and Tobago Wednesday night.
Ricardo Clark scored the only goal for the U.S. in a 1-0 win over Trindidad and Tobago Wednesday night.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad & Tobago -- On a night where the United States played well below par and expectations, midfielder Ricardo Clark stepped up and put his best foot forward to keep the Americans' hopes of qualifying for next year's World Cup alive and kicking.

Actually it was his right foot as Clark scored in the 62nd minute to break a scoreless tie and lift a struggling American team to a 1-0 victory over Trinidad & Tobago at Hasely Crawford Stadium.

The Soca Warriors outplayed the U.S. for a good portion of the match, but the goalkeeping heroics of Tim Howard made sure the game never got fully away from the visitors.

The win lifted the U.S. to the top of the CONCACAF hexagonal, depending on later results last night.

If Costa Rica defeated El Salvador in its late-night match, the U.S. would clinch at least fourth place and a spot in the playoffs between the fifth-place South American side.

Clark, took a pass from Landon Donovan and fired home a 25-yard shot into the lower right corner of the net past goalkeeper Clayton Ince to break the deadlock.

It had appeared that U.S. coach Bob Bradley was ready to sub out Clark because midfielder Stuart Holden appeared ready to enter the match. After Clark scored, Holden was not inserted and stopped warming up.

T&T dominated a good portion of the opening half, while the Americans played a disappointing game.

The Soca Warriors took the game to the Americans in the early going, but could not penetrate into the penalty area. Their first scoring attempt came with the match seven minutes old, when Kenwyne Jones fired a 19-yard shot well over the net.

Content with counterattacking in the opening 10 minutes, the U.S.'s chances were few and far between. Slowly, but surely, the visitors found their rhythm and began to win balls at midfield and move toward T&T's goal, forcing several corner kicks.

Forward Charlie Davies had the Americans' only true first-half scoring chance in the 20th minute as his low, hard 23-yard shot was gathered in by Ince.

But that didn't last as Trinidad came alive and started to force the issue again.

Jones put one on target in the 27th minute when he headed a point-blank attempt, but an awaiting Howard knocked down before picking up the rebound.

The hosts were not done trying as forward Cornell Glen, who played for the MetroStars under Bradley, beat Howard by chipping a 12-yard attempt over the crossbar. While Glen fell down to the ground in frustration, the U.S. cleared the ball out of harm's way in the 29th minute.

Trent Noel got into the act in the 39th minute when he blasted a free kick from the left side that Howard had to dive to his right to knock away.

About four minutes later Noel had yet another chance from virtually the same spot and this time he sent his shot just wide left of the net.

Donovan fired a shot that Ince knocked away a minute into stoppage time.

Striker Jozy Altidore, who victimized T&T for a hat-trick in a 3-0 WCQ win in Nashville April 1, was held in check in the first half and was not a factor.
   
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