A thunderous right-footed shot from Alvin Jones, coupled with a blistering shot from an acute angle, handed T&T's Soca Warriors to a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over the 10-man USA in the Concacaf Nations League 'A' quarterfinal encounter at the Hasely Crawford Stadium Monday night.
However, it was not enough to qualify for the semi-finals of the tournament after the USA won the first encounter 3-0 in Austin, Texas last week that saw them progress 4-2 on aggregate.
The Warriors needed to win by three clear goals in front of their home crowd, and coach Eve presented an almost entirely different team that comprised mostly of attacking players.
Still, the Americans, who themselves fielded a team loaded with players from the European Leagues, took early possession and forced the acrobatic Denzil Smith into two early saves in the first four minutes from Antonee Robinson and Folarin Balogun.
Despite their early dominance, however, the attacking combination of Nathaniel James, Real Gill, Shannon Gomez and Reon Moore kept them on their toes.
The foursome combined about three times in the first half but could not get past the US defensive backline.
The USA expectedly drew first blood from a patient build-up that saw defender Sergio Dest deliver a pinpoint cross for Robinson to meet with a diving header past Smith in the T&T goal in the 26th minute.
Ten minutes later, the US could have had another, courtesy of another Dest cross from the right, but Giovanni Reyna could not beat Smith in goal.
United States supporters cheer during a game against Trinidad and Tobago at a CONCACAF Nations League quarterfinals soccer match at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Monday, Nov. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Azlan Mohammed)
Despite the US advantage, they were reduced to 10 men when Dest was given marching orders in the form of back-to-back yellow cards and a red for arguing with the referee in the 38th minute.
It was almost a form of justice for the Warriors, who lost Noah Powder at about the same time in the first game.
And with the US still shocked by the sending-off, the Warriors snatched the equaliser in the 42nd minute. The speedy Moore was put through on the right, and from almost an acute angle, he unleashed a thunderous shot that flew past Turner in the US goal for a 1-1 scoreline at the halfway stage.
Early T&T pressure on the resumption kept the crowd alive as the Warriors roared loudly. In fact, Daniel Phillips' thumping shot that came out of nothing just whisked past the USA upright.
Then, Jones, who lined up behind the ball for a freekick from some 20 yards out, caught Turner napping with a trademark shot that the US custodian could only push further into the roof of his own net in the 56th minute for a 2-1 advantage.
His goal was reminiscent of his freekick that put the Americans out of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers in 2017 at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Denzil Smith, center, catches a shot from United States' Giovanni Reyna, right, during a CONCACAF Nations League quarterfinal soccer match at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Monday, Nov. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Azlan Mohammed)
With the lead, the Warriors needed three more goals for a chance at a semi-final berth, and they could have gotten it in the 59th minute.
The usually prolific Nathaniel James sent galloping to goal and in a one-and-one collision with Turner from an earlier Gomez ball, but he somehow dragged his left footer attempt agonisingly wide of the post.
Both teams continued to trade punches in the moments that followed, but in the end, the Warriors claimed the win and would move to the Concacaf Nations League Play-In, which starts in March next year.
The USA, in the meanwhile, has assured themselves qualification to the Copa America next year.