Trinidad and Tobago and USA, who each scored late goals on Saturday to remain undefeated in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifying, will meet in Colombus on Wednesday in what is looming as a key match-up.
Frankie Hejduk's goal in the 88th minute lifted the United States into a 2-2 draw at El Salvador in a CONCACAF qualifier for South Africa 2010. "In some ways we feel like we lost a couple points," US star Landon Donovan said. "If we win our home games and tie on the road that's plenty to get us through."
Ataullah Guerra's goal in the 89th minute gave Trinidad and Tobago a 1-1 home draw with Honduras, leaving the Caribbean side and the Salvadorans level in fourth on the table after two draws in as many matches. "It was with heart more than football that we were able to get one point," said Trinidad and Tobago coach Francisco Maturana.
The US squad tops the six-team qualifying group with four points after the draw and an opening 2-0 home win over Mexico. The Mexicans beat Costa Rica 2-0 at home on Saturday to join their foes in second.
Wednesday's other qualifiers will find Mexico at winless Honduras and the Salvadorans, who would have topped the table by beating the Americans, at Costa Rica. The top trio from the group will advance to South Africa 2010 while the fourth-place CONCACAF team will face the fifth-place team from South America to determine another FIFA World Cup qualifier.
Mexico or Costa Rica can seize the early table lead should the US stumble at home against the Soca Warriors in a matchup that will see both clubs boosted by the return of familiar faces. Chris Birchall and Clayton Ince will be back for Trinidad and Tobago after missing Saturday's match for accumulated yellow cards, but star Dwight Yorke remains suspended for verbal abuse of a referee.
Sunderland striker Kenwyne Jones was bench for the Honduras match but could be fresh off the bench to face the Americans. Top US goalkeeper Tim Howard, also serving a yellow card suspension, will return and defender Oguchi Onyewu, who sprained a knee in practice, is likely to be back on the field after sitting out the El Salvador match.
The Americans added Chivas USA defender Jonathan Bornstein to the roster for Wednesday's match and sent goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann back to English side Reading with Howard's return. The Salvadorans had not scored against the US since 1997 and seized their first lead over the Americans in 16 years before headers by Jozy Altidore and Hejduk rescued a draw for the visitors.