USA beat Trinidad 3-0 in Copa América first leg as Pepi, Robinson and Reyna score late

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – The United States were held even by Trinidad and Tobago in the 82nd minute despite a man advantage, raising expectations that a Copa América berth would depend on a win next week. on the Caribbean island where the 2018 USA World Cup was held. A cup campaign ended in failure.

“It was just one day where it feels like nothing is going on,” said Antonee Robinson.

Ricardo Pepi, Robinson and Gio Reyna then scored in a span of 7 minutes, 23 seconds, giving the United States a 3-0 victory Thursday night in the opener of a two-legged, all-goal series.

Playing with a man advantage from the 38th minute onwards, the 11th ranked USA was harassed for much of the game by the 99 Soca Warriors despite 75% possession and a 26-1 advantage in shots.

The second part of the semi-final of the CONCACAF Nations League is on Monday night in Trinidad, where the famous Americans lost 2-1 in October 2017.

“I talked to the team that it was a 180-minute game and we’re only halfway done,” American coach Gregg Berhalter said after the first competitive game of his second term. “We are in a good position. I was on the sidelines today thinking it might end 0-0 because of all the chances we were missing, especially in the second half, but we are in a good position. “

Pepi entered in the 66th and put the US ahead in the 82nd when, on the edge of the 6-yard box, he redirected Robinson’s pass past goalkeeper Denizil Smith. Pepi, who was controversially left off last year’s World Cup roster, has 10 goals in 21 internationals, including five in seven games as a substitute this year.

“Being a boy from Texas, it feels like I’m at home,” said Pepi, a 20-year-old from El Paso who scored twice on the same field in the 2021 World Cup qualifying victory over Jamaica. There was no way I wasn’t going to score here. Just a special moment.”

Robinson doubled the lead in the 86th when he collected a failed header from Reyna’s cross by Alvin Jones and his 25-yard shot deflected off the defender and past Smith’s outstretched arm. Robinson made a triple to mark his third goal in 38 games.

“Just excited,” Robinson said.

Reyna added her seventh international goal and third in two games in the 89th when he fed Folarin Balogun, who latched on to a pass that Reyna ran onto for a left-footed shot from the edge of the 6-yard box.

Three days after her 21st birthday, the oft-injured Reyna played her first 90-minute game for club or country since March 2022. It was her third game under Berhalter since a dispute broke out between her family and the coach at last year’s World Cup. , causing Berhalter to lose his job for six months before resigning in June.

Christian Pulisic, Tim Weah and Tyler Adams miss the games due to injuries. Kevin Paredes, a 20-year-old striker, made his first international start. Cameron Carter-Vickers made his first USA start since the World Cup and was paired in the middle of defense with Tim Ream.

Trinidad played shortly after Noah Powder, a 25-year-old midfielder from Edison, New Jersey, was sent off for his second yellow card, which was shown when he turned a leg and gave off Weston McKennie from behind.

Jamaican referee Oshan Nation first awarded a penalty in the 60th minute when defender Daniel Phillips slipped from behind on McKennie in the penalty area, but the call was overturned after a video review by Canadian Drew Fisher.

The second leg will be at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain, 34 years and one day after Paul Caligiuri’s goal there lifted the USA to a 1-0 victory and the Americans’ first World Cup appearance in 40 year. About 20 miles south in Couva, Trinidad beat the United States in 2017 and ended the Americans’ World Cup streak at seven.

“We have to keep our foot on the gas,” said Pepi.

NOTE: In the other first game of the night, Panama won 3-0 at Costa Rica with goals from Michael Murillo in the fourth minute, José Fajardo in the 29th and Cecilio Waterman in the 60th. In Friday’s games, Honduras hosts Mexico and Jamaica is at home against Canada.


AP Soccer:

The Associated Press

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