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Late USMNT surge vs. Trinidad and Tobago might’ve just saved Gregg Berhalter’s job

United States men’s national team fans and especially Gregg Berhalter will be taking a massive sigh of relief Thursday night after a late flurry of goals resulted in a 3-0 victory vs. Trinidad and Tobago.

The Concacaf Nations League quarterfinal first leg victory will make the Monday’s game in Trinidad way more comfortable with a three-goal aggregate lead. Whoever wins the quarterfinal secures a place in next summer’s Copa América.

Thursday’s result appears like a comfortable win; however, it was the furthest away from said result. Fans who attended the game at Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas, — this writer included — witnessed 80 minutes of uninspiring and horrendous play.

Berhalter’s side was without Christian Pulisic and Tim Weah, but that’s no excuse for not managing to record a single shot on target in the first half.

As if the matchup wasn’t easy enough, Trinidad and Tobago went down to 10 men after midfielder Noah Powder was sent off in the 37th minute.

Berhalter couldn’t have asked for an easier situation. At home, up a man and facing the 99th ranked team in the world. To make a basketball reference, this game was the equivalent of an unguarded layup for Berhalter.

The game was anything but.

While Trinidad and Tobago managed just one shot all game, the USMNT's attack felt just as productive through 80 minutes. Chance after chance was wasted and the nerves got worse as the game progressed.

Finally, a goal in the 82nd minute from Ricardo Pepi snapped the USMNT out of its goalless trance.

Two more goals from Antonee Robinson and Gio Reyna put the game to bed.

Berhalter lives to see another day. If the USMNT failed to beat Trinidad and Tobago it’s fair to say that the U.S. head coach would have been on the chopping block.

The recent hire of Emma Hayes for the U.S. women’s national team head coach position has added pressure to his position. Fans have pointed out that while the USWNT have brought in arguably the best women’s head coach in the game, the men are sticking with Berhalter and his relatively miniscule resume.

The USMNT’s second leg game vs. Trinidad and Tobago is at 7 p.m. ET on Monday. As long as the U.S. doesn’t lose by three goals they will qualify for next summer’s Copa América and book a spot in the Concacaf Nations League semifinals.

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