United States trains on flooded pitch in Trinidad ahead of World Cup qualifier
COUVA, Trinidad -- The U.S. national team was met by soggy conditions for training on Monday ahead of its World cup qualifier against Trinidad and Tobago, casting doubt as to whether Tuesday's game will go ahead as scheduled.
An official for regional governing body CONCACAF told ESPN FC that FIFA expects the field to be fully playable, but any decision about a possible change of venue would occur early on Tuesday.
Bruce Arena's team needs a result to confirm its qualification to the World Cup, but Trinidad has been beset by heavy rains the past two days and U.S. players and coaches were surprised to find that most of the Ato Boldon Stadium's running track and part of the playing surface were underwater.
Some players waded through ankle-deep water to get to the field, while others received piggyback rides from members of the U.S. support staff. A solitary pump was positioned in one corner of the running track in a bid to remove water from the field and surrounding area.
The conditions forced the majority of the team to train behind the goal in an attempt to preserve the playing surface.
Monday's forecast calls for a 55 percent chance of rain. One member of the U.S. contingent was overheard saying, "If it rains again we have no chance [of getting this game played]."
The Trinidad and Tobago federation said it "noted with concern" some U.S. Soccer social media posts that highlighted the condition on the track, and said a decision to play would be up to FIFA's match commissioner.
"TTFA Media can reliably report that despite the high-water table, the US team used the field for training following which the stadium management expressed concern as to the condition following this training session," a TTFA statement said. "However, The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association continues to work alongside Stadium Management to prepare the facility for tomorrow's planned game and all parties are confident the game will be contested."
Trinidad and Tobago moved the game to the smaller venue last month from the usual 27,000-capacity Hasely Crawford Stadium in the capital, Port-of-Spain.
The official reason given was a problem with the larger venue's lighting system, although a federation vice president was quoted in July as saying that playing in Couva greatly lessened the expenses involved.
The U.S. will qualify for the World Cup with a win against already-eliminated T&T, though a draw is also likely to be enough unless Panama or Honduras can overturn a massive goal difference against Costa Rica and Mexico respectively.
Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.