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USA batter Warriors to snatch Group C summit; trounced T&T open hex against Costa Rica

The Soca Warriors got a reality check about the level of competition that lies ahead, as they ended their semifinal World Cup qualifying group at the wrong side of a 4-0 trouncing by the United States in Jacksonville, Florida tonight.

It was a record defeat for the Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team at the hands of the United States and, arguably, lent a sour end to an otherwise largely successful qualifying run by coach Stephen Hart’s men.

“The reactions to this is the good thing is that we are in the hex but I was extremely disappointed tonight,” Hart told TTFA Media. “I was very disappointed in the quality of our passing, our general lack of movement and we were second best to every ball tonight. And it showed with three of the goals [where] we gave away the ball with sloppy passing and United States were breaking with energy and numbers.

“And that’s the result you get when you make mistakes at this level.”

Photo: United States forward Jozy Altidore (left) tries to escape from Trinidad and Tobago defender Mekeil Williams during FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the EverBank Field on 6 September 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Copyright Sam Greenwood/Getty Images/AFP)
Photo: United States forward Jozy Altidore (left) tries to escape from Trinidad and Tobago defender Mekeil Williams during FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the EverBank Field on 6 September 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida.
(Copyright Sam Greenwood/Getty Images/AFP)

The Warriors were the only unbeaten team in Group C before kick off and needed only a draw to finish as group leaders. But they looked anything but regal by Costa Rica referee Ricardo Montero’s final whistle, after conceding four times within a 30 minute stretch at the EverBank Field.

Costa Rica will now be Trinidad and Tobago’s next World Cup qualifying opponent as the nations face each other in the opening affair of the hex on 11 November 2016 in Port of Spain.

The last time that Trinidad and Tobago beat Costa Rica on home soil was on 5 December 1971 when Steve David scored a double in a 3-1 triumph. To put that in context, Queen Elizabeth II was still head of the two island nation, nobody had heard of Hasely Crawford and, at two years old, Brian Lara had probably not seen a cricket bat yet.

In Costa Rica’s five subsequent visits here, the Central America nation left with three wins while Trinidad and Tobago’s two most famous teams, the 1989 Strike Squad and the 2005 Soca Warriors, only managed draws.

Still, even that record offers better reading than a list of the Warriors’ results away to the United States.

Tonight was Trinidad and Tobago’s 12th competitive fixture in Uncle Sam’s backyard. They lost 11 of those outings with their last point coming on 13 May 1989 when the Strike Squad struck in the 88th minute with a classy Hutson “Barber” Charles finish.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team technical staff members (from right) Michael "Brow" Maurice, Derek King, Hutson "Barber" Charles and William Wallace exchange ideas before kick off against Nicaragua on 13 October 2015. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team technical staff members (from right) Michael “Brow” Maurice, Derek King, Hutson “Barber” Charles and William Wallace exchange ideas before kick off against Nicaragua on 13 October 2015.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Charles was on the bench tonight in his role as assistant coach. He was unlikely to have seen anything to give him flashbacks.

The Warriors started brightly enough and Joevin Jones, whose dad, Kelvin Jones, was a Strike Squad fringe player, tested US goalkeeper Tim Howard with a low effort in the seventh minute and just missed the top corner in the 13th minute.

But the visitors were already showing signs of losing their concentration by then and should have fallen behind in the 18th minute, as midfielder Sacha Kljestan volleyed off from 12 yards, after the Trinidad and Tobago defence failed to deal with a long throw from Geoff Cameron.

The Warriors were lucky not to concede a penalty after a wild Mekeil Williams tackle on Cameron in the 25th minute, as the US right back was fouled inside the box but fell outside of it.

And, in the 31st minute, 17-year-old US wonder boy Christian Pulisic saw his effort hit both posts and rebound to safety, after bustling forward Jozy Altidore had gotten goal-side of Williams from another Cameron throw.

Photo: United States midfielder Alejandro Bedoya (left) speeds away from Trinidad and Tobago winger Levi Garcia during FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the EverBank Field on 6 September 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Copyright Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Photo: United States midfielder Alejandro Bedoya (left) speeds away from Trinidad and Tobago winger Levi Garcia during FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the EverBank Field on 6 September 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida.
(Copyright Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

One minute before the break, the pressure finally told as an attempted clearance from Khaleem Hyland slammed into an opponent inside Trinidad and Tobago’s 18-yard box and Kljestan responded quickly to stab home the loose ball.

The Warriors were still in the match and playmaker Kevin Molino released his captain Kenwyne Jones in the 54th minute, only for the forward to blaze a potential equaliser wide.

There was no looking back after Altidore doubled the hosts’ advantage in the 58th minute from the edge of the area, as he collected a left side cross from Fabian Johnson and turned Williams before applying a neat finish.

The big American striker struck again, four minutes later, as Pulisic ghosted behind T&T right back Aubrey David with a simple wall pass and had time and space to deliver a raking low cross that Altidore finished at the far post.

And the rout was truly on when the United States conjured up a fourth in the 71st minute.

Again, Pulisic was involved as he stripped Joevin in central midfield to initiate counter-attack. Phillip denied the teenager’s close ranged effort but substitute Paul Arriola was on hand to convert the loose ball.

Photo: United States midfielder Christian Pulisic (right) tries to get past Trinidad and Tobago winger Joevin Jones during FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the EverBank Field on 6 September 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Copyright Sam Greenwood/Getty Images/AFP)
Photo: United States midfielder Christian Pulisic (right) tries to get past Trinidad and Tobago winger Joevin Jones during FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the EverBank Field on 6 September 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida.
(Copyright Sam Greenwood/Getty Images/AFP)

By then, Hart had already replaced Kenwyne and 18-year-old Levi Garcia, who were both ineffective, with Shahdon Winchester and Jomal Williams respectively. And Kevan George came on for Andre Boucaud in the 75th minute.

They were all like for like changes that neither presented a new offensive spark nor addressed their defensive frailties. But then Hart had vowed to give some new players a chance to showcase their ability. None took that opportunity.

Hyland forced a sharp low save from Howard in the 79th minute after a Joevin feed. But it could just as easily have been 5-0 when Pulisic sent Altidore clear in the 90th minute only for the striker to chip the ball over Phillip but just over the bar as well.

It was the last action of the game. Ironically, Trinidad and Tobago had 51 percent of the ball possession, as opposed to 21 when they two teams met last November. And T&T had five shots on target compared to six by the USA, while the Warriors did not muster a single one when the two nations squared off in Port of Spain.

Yet, in that Port of Spain meeting, they played to a goalless draw while, tonight, it was a record mauling.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago coach Stephen Hart reacts to the final whistle in the 2016 Copa America play off contest at the Rommel Fernandez Stadium, Panama City on 8 January 2016. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago coach Stephen Hart reacts to the final whistle in the 2016 Copa America play off contest at the Rommel Fernandez Stadium, Panama City on 8 January 2016.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

“We were looking okay in the first half but I would not say we very good,” said Hart. “We were’t getting any shots on net and then we gave up a sort of unfortunate goal.

“We made way too many errors tonight.”

Still, Warriors fans have been here before, as Trinidad and Tobago looked abysmal in a 3-0 friendly loss away to Jordan on 16 June 2015, before going on to advance to the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal, a month later, with wins over Guatemala and Cuba, a 4-4 draw with Mexico and a penalty shoot-out loss to Panama.

Yet, this was the first time that Hart’s team had lost a competitive match by more than a single goal since their 2-0 loss to Haiti on 12 July 2013—in just his second game in charge.

Hart and the Warriors will have an opportunity to regain their confidence next month when they face the Dominican Republic and Martinique in Trinidad for Caribbean Cup action on 5 and 11 October respectively.

“We have the Caribbean Cup in October [and] I think I have to look very closely at the selection going into the Caribbean Cup,” said Hart, “and we have to realise that we have some soul searching to do. Tonight some of the big players would have to answer for it because our leaders tonight…

“Far too many of them disappeared.”

Photo: United States substitute Jordan Morris (right) passes the ball while Trinidad and Tobago defender Radanfah Abu looks on during FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the EverBank Field on 6 September 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: United States substitute Jordan Morris (right) passes the ball while Trinidad and Tobago defender Radanfah Abu looks on during FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the EverBank Field on 6 September 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

The Warriors should have no illusions about the difficulty of their qualifying mission when they face Costa Rica in Port of Spain on Friday 11 November.

(Teams)

Trinidad and Tobago (4-2-3-1): 1.Marvin Phillip (GK); 2.Aubrey David, 6.Radanfah Abu Bakr, 12.Carlyle Mitchell, 17.Mekeil Williams; 8.Khaleem Hyland, 14.Andre Boucaud (19.Kevan George 75); 3.Joevin Jones, 10.Kevin Molino, 16.Levi Garcia (23.Jomal Williams 56); 9.Kenwyne Jones (captain) (11.Shahdon Winchester 67).

Unused substitutes: 21.Adrian Foncette (GK), 22.Gregory Ranjitsingh (GK), 5.Daneil Cyrus, 7.Hughtun Hector, 13.Cordell Cato, 15.Neveal Hackshaw, 18.Yohance Marshall, 20.Trevin Caesar.

Coach: Stephen Hart

 

United States (4-4-2): 12.Tim Howard (GK); 20.Geoff Cameron, 3.Omar Gonzalez, 21.Steve Birnbaum, 23.Fabian Johnson; 11.Alejandro Bedoya (14.Paul Arriola 65), 16.Sacha Kljestan (13.Caleb Stanko 73), 4.Michael Bradley, 10.Christian Pulisic; 7.Bobby Wood (8.Jordan Morris 59), 17.Jozy Altidore.

Unused substitutes: 1.Brad Guzan (GK), 22.Ethan Horvath (GK), 2.Kellyn Acosta, 5.Michael Orozco, 6.Darlington Nagbe, 9.Rubio Rubin, 15.Kyle Beckerman, 18.Chris Wondolowski, 19.Graham Zusi.

Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

 

Referee: Ricardo Montero (Costa Rica)

Man of the Match: Christian Pulisic (USA)

Photo: United States midfielder Christian Pulisic (right) takes on Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Andre Boucaud during FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the EverBank Field on 6 September 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Copyright John Raoux/AP)
Photo: United States midfielder Christian Pulisic (right) takes on Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Andre Boucaud during FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the EverBank Field on 6 September 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida.
(Copyright John Raoux/AP)

World Cup qualifying semifinal round

(Tuesday 6 September)

USA 4 (Sacha Kljestan 44, Jozy Altidore 58, 62, Paul Arriola 71), Trinidad and Tobago 0 in Jacksonville, Florida;

Guatemala 9, St Vincent and the Grenadines 3 in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 15 years experience at several local and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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246 comments

  1. Team in transition .great opportunity for assesment ..I think we should focus on what are the performance standards for the confederation as it relates to qualifying.the US game gave us a valuable benchmark

  2. Lol. Sorry Anton Corneal. Yeah. I was more thinking about seniors. But Anton took us to a Youth World Cup. That counts!

  3. Kelvin Jack ten of d players who played in d two world cup qualifiers didn’t play in d china peru and Uruguay games. It was a whole different team!! I now know y coach hart didn’t want them games! I personally spoke to coach hart and he felt they were a waste of time bc the players involved was not up to the standard and from what i c today he was correct bc u using those games to question his ability

    • Gordon those games were crucial. I’m bewildered why he would think they weren’t. It is a squad and it was a terrific opportunity to improve the squad

    • I agree with you Kelvin Jack but d coach felt that d players at his disposal was not up to standard and poor results would have been looked at negatively on his coaching!! He lamented fitness levels of locally based players and a whole lot of other things judging from what i have seen and heard recently i think he got it spot on!!

  4. Young Pulisic did really well against US… Would love to see Daneil Cyrus get a go at him though!
    http://sports.yahoo.com/news/how-do-we-talk-about-usmnt-phenom-christian-pulisic-031838519.html

  5. I had another quick look at the China, Peru and Uruguay games.. We just don’t concentrate enough.. Sloppy sloppy goals.. Concede poor goals.. We must eliminate that from our game. Look at the first U.S. Goal before everyone talks about the clearance from Hyland, which was a difficult clearance as it was under him.. Let’s look at the throw in 30 secs before. The guy takes the throw to his team ante who easily plays it back to him.. From there it’s one twos with our players sleeping and not concentrating.. No one marked the guy taking the throw to begin with. I find it unacceptable and I would’ve gone mad. I’m also looking closely to see if players are barking instructions and I don’t see it enough. In 2005 we had Yorkie organising us.. Dennis was a good talker, I talk non stop and organise.. But hey.. There is time to correct stuff.. We may still qualify in spite of our shortcomings..

  6. Either Boucard or Hyland eh Shawn Babooram. Them really good yes

  7. Kurtwyn Baird Who alyuh eh I don’t believe that our Soca Worries qualifying nah not until Coach Hart bench bound not to score eh, and bring him on about ten minutes before the end of the game eh, imagine he is just 31 yrs old eh and cannot get another contract in the EPL eh neither in the lower leagues eh and this is because he was finally exposed of being not a real prolific goalscorer eh, and now he finally got a contract with the Atlanta team eh a new francise in the MLS team eh, the best thing is for him to stay with Central F. C eh. Them really good yes

  8. Can someone tell me who the defensive midfielder is????

  9. I like that you all believe that he is the man to take us through but still questions his player selection,his Tactics and even his strength in persuading the TTFF to get him the necessary things thus far for his staff and players🤔

  10. Kj is blocking d space for a young and upcoming….kj also started young the senior team….time to move on

  11. ..I disagree. We could always critique his selection and tactics but the man has shown that he could take both Canada and Trini to a good level. The issue is to maintain it all the way home..

  12. You know how many young players need this team to make it so they can have a bright future in the building back of football in T+T and we here wondering about how it will look,I put my head on a block,that no person on this forum believes Mr Hart can get us through this Hex,but it would look bad to say it🙁

  13. I saw Anton start at U13s level the group with Sean DeSilva, Cyrus and company that went on to qualify for two youth World Cups .

  14. ..And Anton Corneal, which many people have great difficulty in saying, never mind accepting..

  15. One of our most successful coaches ever was Bertille St Clair though. We counting Tobago as overseas? Hahaha. I agree that is part of our problem as a society on the whole Keith.
    But don’t forget Bertille and Gally got results too.

  16. Keith Look Loy you are right, and honest👏🏾

  17. …I will be blunt. Our players respect foreign (read “white”) coaches more. “Fareign” is better. Right? This IS part of the problem..

  18. I have seen so many local National coaches work their magic with our players in all different levels and we look good to a point, then the team starts to struggle,if I judge the history of our only World Cup appearance it came from a foreign coach, not that I don’t believe we have capable local coaches, but what consistently plagued our local coaches is that our players also become complacent in their attitudes and our local coaches releases the hold of the dressing room because the players see themselves as irreplaceable as I am seeing now but I would look back at this and hope I was wrong in my analysis of this situation.

  19. There were times people were hating on Stern same way. Remember the talk “Sperm ” John Stern get real criticism

    • Yes. But that was people in the stands. Stern John delivered. There is no comparison with Stern and any other striker.
      Kenwyne and Stern both got dog’s abuse. But that is the only similarity between the two.
      You cannot justify Kenwyne’s inclusion by pointing at Stern.

  20. After that?! You’re joking Jamaal. After that Stern scored five goals in four games against Guatemala, Panama and Mexico to do more than anyone to take us to the verge of the World Cup.
    Leo never had to put faith in him. He earned it. Dwight Yorke got Player of the Year in 2005. But it should have been Stern John with Aurtis Whitley second.

  21. Leo never chanced Latas when I thought Latas who have lit up the WC. Choice and possibly his more experienced and knowledgeable mind. But still his choice

  22. Jamaal, Leo Beenhakker had selected Kenwyne Jones to start against Guatemala. But Kenwyne got injured just before the players flew in. That’s why Stern started.

  23. All coaches place belief in certain players. Whether club or national team

  24. On the issue of Kenwyne I differ again . This is a player who has delivered for us and under Coach Hart too. He has only 3 games under his belt for this season. One vs Sporting Kansas and then against Guatemala and USA. Two games later if he has not found his feet then I might think differently. Leo stuck with Stern John are we saying he was wrong ?

  25. ..The Express is not interested in football. It is interested in money

  26. Well I was not talking about a Latapy or a Yorke even. They have never been there as coaches. Nor will I advocate the Warner approach slam bam thank yu Maam

  27. On another note, the Express posted a story on Tuesday’s game on Thursday and put it behind a pay wall so you have to pay to read it. Hilarious yes. Lol.
    Anyway… Back to the football talk…

  28. We have limited resources. Money spent on an advisor is money that could be spent making players more comfortable, better training equipment or getting camps. So up to coach there.
    I agree with Keith. Nobody is above criticism. We all want the team to do well.
    For me, I think I have seen enough to suggest that Hart can improve team. I think we used Kenwyne better at the Gold Cup when we were killing teams on set pieces.
    Hopefully we don’t lose that strength.

  29. I remembered clearly Jamaal Shabazz that Jack Warner called all coaches for an urgent meeting to help the present situation with the National team under Mr St.Clair and the solution was to bring David Nakid to be his assistant and everybody stayed quiet and I said that almost everyone in this room was employed in some manner by Mr.Warner and that no one would object except for myself and Arab Nelson,then I ask if it was Kurtwyn Baird coaching and the team needed to be playing better would I be given an assistant or would I be removed,Mr Peter O Conner quietly said that I would be removed so I know many people have a close relationship with the Coach or his staff even myself but I am quite sure our team needs someone who has better Tactical qualities than Mr .Hart in this Hex.I honestly applaud what he and the staff have done thus far.

    • I hear you. I don’t agree because I think there have been some improvements in almost every category and that tells me the team is going forward.
      But I respect your opinion because I know you are just giving an assessment based on what you see.

  30. ..That is a selection/tactical issue and one that beats me. Hart is very loyal to Jones. But the team is not organized tactically around what limited assets he has to offer..

  31. Keith Look Loy how successful match day strategy has been, to make kj the focal point throught this WC campaign ?

  32. ..I see no need to change the coach or to bring in technical support for him. (Latapy? Hahahaha). In my view the issues are: 1) match day strategy and tactics, 2) player recruitment and selection, 3) the captaincy, 4) player concentration and focus. Yes, these are coaching issues but the players have their role to play in their resolution. Let me also hasten to add that what was good enough for the preliminary phase is not necessarily good enough for the final phase. Hart was honest in his assesssment of the last performance. Why is it that people can’t say what he is himself saying – and offer their solutions at the same time. Is the NATIONAL team. It belongs to all of us..

  33. Because The Staff was good enough up to two games before. And so were the players

  34. The question I want to throw back and would love to hear Keith Look Loy , Kelvin Jack and others. …Do we go with our crew in the uncharted waters and benefit from the journey win lose or draw. Or do we bring in an Adviser in someone who has been at Hex, World Cup etc. In other words been there done that. Coach Hart may be in the best position to determine that

    • Keith Look Loy, Kelvin Jack and others will have to answer for themselves… But what do you mean about an advisor who has done it all before? Like Beenhakker?

    • First this is Jamaal Shabazz talking eh and not me talking for anyone lest it be construed otherwise

    • I think we are in uncharted waters and it’s an opportunity for a Caribbean coach to take us through and create a new legacy which will say we are ready . Or seek the advice of a mentor while continuing to be in charge. But to bounce ideas off

    • I would give an example no matter who Beenhakker plays in the Hex he will start extremely compact and cautious. He was criticised for similar approach in the World Cup

    • I understand what you mean. I think that should be Hart’s call but I see the merit. Whether it is the best use of resources is another question altogether though.

    • Jamal… The manager is doing ok. I fully expected us to get out of the group we were just in. St Vincent are semi pros and Guatemala are below average.. In fact, I think they’re a poor side. I saw the game they conceded 8 against Albania.. Embarrassing..I expected us to progress. The other groups were far more competitive. What is a concern to me is the lack of improvement when we meet the bigger teams. We concede far too many goals but Jamal you are correct.. Players need to take more responsibility. I’ve known players who know all the failings of the coach etc so I used to ask them if you know the failings why don’t you correct it yourself? Of course.. The manager has made in my opinion tactical errors but that’s my opinion.. He has his own philosophy and may be unwilling to change. Without a doubt it would be useful if he tap into the brains of people who have been there.. It’s up to him though as he is the governor..

  35. I agree with stability but the door must be open for more quality if found and we must treat with drop of form, injured players coming off a long lay off and players stepping up.

  36. I think little Separates the quality of the defenders in the squad

  37. Dexter came out of an era under Gally when you had a “starting team” till injury or cards do us part.

  38. Dexter Francis shared his own view yesterday. He said based on his considerable experience as an international defender, he would advise Hart to decide on his best back four and stick with them.
    Francis thinks that would give us more stability and lead to more consistent performances.
    What do you prefer Jamaal, Kelvin and others? Should stability be the goal? Or are horses for courses reasonable?

  39. I agree with you Gordon Pierre. (Long time since I said that! Lol)
    We have seen that this team can get stuck in and grind out a result. And we have seen that they can keep the ball a bit too.
    So now what we want is balance. And the coach knows that from his statements.
    So it might be part of our evolution Che Abrams.
    As for sourcing players abroad, that would be the job of the manager and TTFA staff.
    There are no guarantees and I won’t say Hart is Pep Guardiola.
    But I think he deserves some leeway to find the solution.