A lone goal from Clint Dempsey five minutes from the interval in Havana on Saturday saw the USA pick up their second away win in as many group-stage qualifiers for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
Landon Donovan and Co have only scored two goals, but full three-point hauls in Guatemala City in the previous round and now Havana - where the USA had not played in a full 61 years - have the Group 1 leaders' sprits soaring.
"Two wins on the road for us, it doesn't get any better than that," said Carlos Bocanegra, the recent Stade Rennais signing who scored the winner against Guatemala on 20 August. "Now we get to go back to Chicago and we're pretty excited about it. If we get a win there, we'll set ourselves up pretty nicely."
Not only was the historic meeting in the Cuban capital a second straight group win for Bob Bradley's Americans, but it creates another noteworthy milestone as well. "Someone told me it's the first time a US team has ever won three qualifying games in a row on the road," said striker Brian Ching, noting that that Americans also won their preliminary second leg against Barbados in late June in Bridgetown (9-0 on aggregate). "It's a great accomplishment, and it's exactly where we'd hoped to be. We just need to keep it up against Trinidad on Wednesday."
Regional rivals Mexico and Costa Rica both picked up their second straight wins on Saturday, El Tri beating Jamaica 3-0 at home and Costa Rica hammering Suriname 7-0 at their San Jose stronghold Estadio Saprissa. The Americans are the only side in CONCACAF qualifying to have registered six points on the road.
Their reward is a first home date of the first qualifying group stage, on Wednesday against Trinidad and Tobago in Chicago. The islanders are on four points after a 3-1 win over Cuba and a 1-1 draw on Saturday with Guatemala.
Sweet home Chicago
After fielding a pair of holding midfielders in a cautious posture in his team's first two outings, American coach Bradley has dropped hints that he might take a more attacking tack in the Windy City mid-week.
The Trinidadians, led by head coach Francisco ‘Pacho' Maturana, will be without Dwight Yorke, who is returning to Sunderland. They will also have to overcome the disappointment of seeing three points become one at the death against Guatemala in Port of Spain. Keon Daniel opened the scoring late in the 84th minute, but the hosts switched off in stoppage time to concede an equaliser with virtually the last kick of the game.
"We will play our game and hope to get the three points. No game is easy and circumstances change, but you have to be ready and we will do our best to be ready for Wednesday," said Maturana, who will also be missing suspended USA-based defender Avery John. "Nothing is a guarantee in football, but I believe that we can achieve anything. We will need to rebound after a disappointing end to the game against Guatemala."
Wednesday's CONCACAF qualifiers:
USA-Trinidad and Tobago
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