The likes of DIRECTV W Connection star Joevin Jones and Point Fortin Civic attacker Marcus Joseph have become regular names for knowledgeable Trinidad and Tobago fans due to their Pro League exploits. But Wired868 has highlighted some gifted young players who may take their places in a season or two.
The following is a list of XI Pro League under-21 players who caught our attention with their steady, courageous performances and flashes of brilliance:
Goalkeeper: Kevin Dodds (San Juan Jabloteh)
Dodds did not finish the season with Jabloteh and that is a pity. Goalkeepers tend to mature later and perhaps he will be back. But talent is not everything; it takes ambition, heart and a willingness to sacrifice to make it. Dodds has the talent.
Right back: Alvin Jones (W Connection)
Jones, the younger brother of Joevin Jones, spent the first half of the season as an understudy to Brazilian Joao Ananias, but he was certainly ready when his time came; and he is Wired868’s “Young Player of the Year”.
His booming right foot strikes with the dead ball and from open play won him his share of plaudits as Connection successfully held off Defence Force near the finish line.
But, just as notable, is his work ethic and the professionalism in his defending. It should not be long before he joins his brother on the “Soca Warriors” team. As a token of appreciation, Ruby Tuesday will award Jones a dinner voucher at its popular restaurant where he can toast his successful breakout Pro League season.
Central defence: Dario Holmes (San Juan Jabloteh)
Holmes was crowded out at Central FC when Yohance Marshall joined in January; but he showed at Jabloteh that he has much to offer. One for the future.
Central defence: Jesus Perez (North East Stars)
If you are interested in “gentle Jesus meek and mild”, then this is the wrong guy. Solid, composed and, above all, fierce in the tackle, Perez is one of a promising fleet of young players at the Sangre Grande-based club. And he is left footed.
Write his name down.
Left back: Jelani Peters (St Ann’s Rangers)
Peters was irrepressible around last Christmas although he looked mentally drained towards the end of the season. But then few players his age—he turned 20 in mid-season—have played as often with as much responsibility.
At his best, Peters is a tough, skillful and committed customer who does not know the word “fear.”
Midfielder: Akeem Redhead (Point Fortin Civic)
Redhead pushed Jones close for our top youth accolade and he has certainly contributed more over the course of the entire season.
The teenager is a versatile, industrious, street-wise player who has featured in a handful of positions for Civic and done superbly in all of them. He might be the new Stokely Mason. Maybe even better; once he keeps his feet on the ground.
Midfielder: Jomal Williams (W Connection)
Sometimes watching Williams play can feel as frustrating as seeing a racecar stuck in traffic. There are signs of an elegant playmaker here and the Pro League probably won’t see the best of “Bebo” until Joevin moves abroad to make way for him.
But then the best players do not wait for the reigns to be handed over; they take it.
Midfielder: Joel Lewis (Police)
Lewis faded somewhat at the business end of the season; but that should not diminish the worth of his debut Pro League campaign.
Athletic and brave, Lewis loves to run at defenders. And we loved watching him do it.
Attacker: Neil Benjamin Jr (W Connection)
Benjamin’s speed, physique and dreadlocks are reminiscent of a young Ruud Gullit and he scared the life out of opposing defenders early in the season before they worked out that he does not come in off the flank nearly as much as he should.
“Benjie” scored just one League goal, which is a travesty for a player who is actually a good finisher. He was useful for Connection this season; but he can and should do better next term.
Attacker: Rundell Winchester (Central FC)
Winchester is an instinctive player who is not afraid to try the spectacular; sometimes to his own detriment. But he has a habit of rising to the big occasion. He is arguably the quickest player in the Pro League and he has a good work ethic too.
He has generally been effective cutting towards goal from wide areas; but his future will surely be at centre forward once he improves his hold-up play.
Attacker: Dwight Quintero (Central FC)
Quintero found it hard to get minutes upfront once mid-season signing Willis Plaza embarked on an impressive scoring streak; but Central’s next coach must surely find a way to keep him involved.
Tall, strong and agile with a decent touch, Quintero can be a future senior international if he sharpens up his end product and stays in good physical condition.
And another thing:
Who came closest to breaking in to our XI?
Well, there was St Ann’s Rangers goalkeeper Terrence Clarke and defender Isaiah McIntyre, Defence Force winger Akeem Roach, the San Juan Jabloteh pair of wing back Nyron Jones and striker Brent Sam, W Connection forward Jerrel Britto, Central FC reserve goalkeeper Javon Sample and the Caledonia AIA duo of midfielder Keron Bethelmy and Vincentian utility player Nical Stephens.
While brief cameos from Connection’s dynamic Surinamese winger Dimitrie Apai and Caledonia AIA forward Dylon King were enough to whet the appetite.
We can’t wait for next season.
Editor’s Note: Wired868 will like to thank Ruby Tuesday for its prize of a dinner treat for the Wired868 Young Player of the Year Alvin Jones. The site will contact W Connection to make the necessary arrangements.