Atlanta defender Miles Robinson is the only Major League Soccer player on the U.S. roster for Thursday night’s match against Trinidad and Tobago. The first of two games in a five-day span will determine a berth in next year’s Copa América and the CONCACAF Nations League semifinals.
Robinson and New England defender DeJuan Jones were the only MLS players on the October roster. Gregg Berhalter relies heavily on a Europe-based squad in the start of his second term as American coach.
Christian Pulisic, Tim Weah, and captain Tyler Adams will miss the total-goals series due to injuries.
Berhalter said, “We have to win games like this and we have to win trophies in the Nations League and compete in the Copa América.”
Paul Caligiuri addressed the team ahead of the anniversary of his goal at Trinidad on Nov. 19, 1989, that put the U.S. in the World Cup for the first time in 40 years.
“We wouldn’t have been here if it wasn’t for his goal,” Berhalter said. “No better way to honor one of our ex-teammates and really pay tribute to his contribution to U.S. soccer.”
In October 2017, the U.S. lost at Trinidad on the final day of qualifying when the Americans needed only a draw, which ended a streak of seven World Cup appearances. Defender Tim Ream is the only player from the defeat at Couva currently in the U.S. training camp.
“It’s a great learning moment for us,” Berhalter said. “It’s not about ignoring that, it’s about embracing it and leaning into it.”
Midfielder Gio Reyna turned 21 on Monday. He is expected to get more playing time after being removed at halftime in exhibitions against Germany and Ghana last month, his first national team appearances since breaking a leg in June.
Berhalter said, “I don’t envision him having minutes restriction in this game.”
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