U.S. men look to lock up spot in Hex against Trinidad & Tobago tonight

Barring something ridiculous, the United States in through to the next round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.

Whether or not it advances as a group winner or as runners-up depends on how it fares tonight in Jacksonville against Trinidad & Tobago (8 p.m. ET, FS1).

Looking at the table, it would take a stunning loss by the Americans, coupled with a flood of goals from Guatemala against St. Vincent and the Grenadines, for the U.S. to miss out on goal difference:

table

FIFA rankings: United States 26, T&T 68

Man in the middle: Costa Rican referee Ricardo Montero draws tonight’s assignment. He was the referee for the United States’ stunning loss to Jamaica in the semifinals of the 2015 Gold Cup.

Missing in action: Matt Besler has returned home to be with his newborn child and DeAndre Yedlin is serving a yellow card ban. Clint Dempsey (irregular heartbeat), Jermaine Jones (knee) and John Brooks (back) are a few other names that aren’t available.

What’s new?: Michael Bradley has served his suspension and Tim Howard is expected to earn the start in goal.

They said it: “The situation is very clear. We badly want to win this game,” manager Jurgen Klinsmann told The Washington Post. “We want to finish first in this group. We are not through yet and this is what we clearly tell the players so for not even one second they underestimate the situation. We are fully prepared to go 100 percent full speed.”

15 years and counting: The United States hasn’t lost a home World Cup qualifier since 2001. It was a 3-2 loss to Honduras on Sept. 1 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., if you were wondering.

Weather report: For Florida, just about perfect. It will be 80 degrees and clear at kick off, with only 65 percent humidity.

Analysis: The Americans have home field advantage and considerably more incentive. If would be a surprise if Klinsmann didn’t have his side ready to play. Bradley’s return in midfield improves the passing, and it’s a fairly comfortable night for the home team.

Prediction: United States 3, Trinidad & Tobago 1

About Randy Capps

South Carolina native, Fulham apologist, writer and sports fanatic.

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