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Kenwyne and Molino head T&T’s foreign-based contingent for upcoming WCQs

Former Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team captain and Atlanta United FC forward Kenwyne Jones and Minnesota United midfield ace Kevin Molino are both set to return to international action next week, after being named in a 26-man squad to face Panama and Mexico in Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 24 and 28 March respectively.

Jones and Molino will be joined by 11 more foreign-based players, including Seattle Sounders left wing back Joevin Jones, KC Krylia Sovetov defender Sheldon Bateau and teenaged AZ Alkmaar attacker Levi Garcia.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forward Kenwyne Jones (right) celebrates with teammate Sheldon Bateau during international duty at the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forward Kenwyne Jones (right) celebrates with teammate Sheldon Bateau during international duty at the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Defence Force striker Jamille Boatswain keeps his place in the team—after his double in a 2-0 friendly win over Barbados on 10 March—while Central FC midfielder Leston Paul, San Jabloteh winger Nathan Lewis and Defence Force defender Curtis Gonzales also won picks into the final squad alongside regular faces like Central custodian Jan-Michael Williams, W Connection playmaker Hughtun Hector and unattached defender Daneil Cyrus.

Although there were no major surprises in the first competitive squad selected by rookie head coach Dennis Lawrence, Mexico-based striker Shahdon Winchester and Yohance Marshall, who both represent second division team Murcielagos FC alongside attacking midfielder Jomal Williams, might feel desperately unlucky to miss out.

Winchester scored a hattrick in his last outing for the Soca Warriors, which was a 4-3 loss Gold Cup qualifying loss to Haiti in January.

And Marshall, who scored a stoppage time equaliser in Trinidad and Tobago’s memorable 4-4 draw with Mexico at the 2013 Gold Cup, might wonder how he missed out despite being a regular player for a Mexican outfit—particularly when six of the nine defenders selected are in their pre-season or off-season.

Photo Trinidad and Tobago defender Yohance Marshall (left) wins a header from Mexico defender Yasser Corona in CONCACAF 2015 Gold Cup action. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo Trinidad and Tobago defender Yohance Marshall (left) wins a header from Mexico defender Yasser Corona in CONCACAF 2015 Gold Cup action.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

San Jose Earthquakes winger Cordell Cato has also not featured at all this season and was not even the bench for his team’s last outing while defensive midfielder Kevan George and full back Aubrey David are still in their pre-season preparation with United States NASL team, Jacksonville Armada, and Finland club, PS Kemi, respectively.

Lawrence claimed his overseas contacts vouched for the fitness of his foreign-based players although he further suggested that playing time was one criteria used in his squad selection.

“With assessing the overseas based players, one of the things that was important was finding out how much game time they’ve been getting at the moment and their physical condition,” Lawrence told the TTFA Media, “because obviously the boys that play in the MLS, their season is only two games in.

“We managed, by use of our contacts in the US, to speak to some of the personnel at the clubs and get physical data on the players which helped us a lot because we knew what physical condition they were in coming into our camp. It all then came back down to what I want to do and what I think is best for the team and we made the selection based on that.”

Lawrence’s job might not have been helped by fact that the local Pro League ended a month ago either, although he kept a local squad together in constant training.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago assistant coach Sol Campbell (right) congratulates striker Jamille Boatswain after his double strike against Barbados in a 2-0 win at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 10 March 2017. (Courtesy CA Images/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago assistant coach Sol Campbell (right) congratulates striker Jamille Boatswain after his double strike against Barbados in a 2-0 win at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 10 March 2017.
(Courtesy CA Images/Wired868)

India-based striker Willis Plaza could certainly claim to have earned his ticket home after banging in 12 goals in seven games for East Bengal while Radanfah Abu Bakr (FK Sūduva—Lithuania), Khaleem Hyland, Bateau, Garcia and Joevin have featured regularly enough for their clubs.

But Lawrence, as with his selection of off-colour Central midfielder Keron Cummings to face Barbados, might have already hinted that he considers the individual attributes of his players before he looks at their form.

“We had to try and incorporate the players from abroad so we had to select based on the positions that were needed and required for what I want to do,” said Lawrence. “In the end we put together a group that will give us the best possible chance of getting the result against Panama.”

That meant a recall for Kenwyne who is yet to start for new MLS franchise, Atlanta, and played a combined 13 minutes of their two games so far before this weekend’s fixtures.

Kenwyne was symbolically dropped by former head coach Tom Saintfiet on the grounds that he was not mobile enough to lead the line.

Photo: Atlanta United FC forward Kenwyne Jones. (Copyright Jason Getz/USA Today)
Photo: Atlanta United FC forward Kenwyne Jones.
(Copyright Jason Getz/USA Today)

However, Saintfiet’s verdict always seemed to be have more than a tinge of political self-interest since the former England Premier League player was not even available to represent his country at the time. And, ironically, Saintfiet’s team often resorted to sending lanky central defender, Abu Bakr, upfront and punting long balls towards him.

Jones has enjoyed a love/hate relationship with local fans for years.

He scored 15 goals from his first 30 matches under coach Stephen Hart and played a key role in the Soca Warriors’ successive Gold Cup quarterfinal berths in 2013 and 2015 and buried a brilliant volley in a 2-1 away win over Guatemala that helped take his squad into the CONCACAF Hex.

However, in 2016, Jones’ only goal from five matches in 2016 came in a 6-0 home win over St Vincent and the Grenadines and his poor form coincided with a dip in results for Trinidad and Tobago, which ultimately contributed to Hart’s dismissal.

Molino’s role in the Warriors’ poor 2016 run was even less savoury as he was twice disciplined and subsequently suspended from the team for breaching internal rules—he allegedly broke curfew to party on at least two occasions.

The skilful former FIFA Under-17 and Under-20 player remained every bit as treasured off the island as his move from Orlando City to newly promoted Minnesota United at a cost of US$650,000 set a new MLS transfer record.

Photo: Minnesota United FC midfielder Kevin Molino jumps over Atlanta United FC player Chris McCann during their MLS contest on 12 March 2017 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Atlanta defeated Minnesota 6-1. (Copyright AFP 2017/Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Photo: Minnesota United FC midfielder Kevin Molino jumps over Atlanta United FC player Chris McCann during their MLS contest on 12 March 2017 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Atlanta defeated Minnesota 6-1.
(Copyright AFP 2017/Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

It has not been all roses for Molino in Minnesota though, as his new employers set a less flattering record for the worst start in franchise history after losing 5-1 and 6-1 in their opening two matches. Molino contributed one successful penalty for the club to date.

Seattle play New York Red Bulls tonight while Colorado Rapids face Minnesota, Atlanta tackle Chicago Fire and San Jose Earthquakes take on Sporting Kansas City.

In Europe, Garcia suffered from the typical second season blues but bounced back to regain his starting position for Eredivisie club, AZ Alkmaar, in the Netherlands. He started in four of AZ’s last five games, during which time he scored his lone goal this season in a 7-1 hammering administered by France giants, Lyon, in a UEFA Europa League contest.

Lawrence claimed that he expects the local-based players to set the tone when his combined squad hits the training ground this week.

“The players that worked with me locally had a head start on the players that were abroad because I had more contact time with them,” said the Warriors coach, “and I think a lot of them understand exactly what we are trying to do, which I believe was important.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence (second from left) and half of his technical staff who are (from right) Stephen Bradley, Riedoh Berdien, Ross Russell, Sol Campbell and Stuart Charles-Fevrier take in the action during their friendly international outing against Barbados on 10 March 2017. Lawrence was without assistant coach Stern John, who lost his daughter, Nikela, to a tragic mishap on the eve of the game. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence (second from left) and half of his technical staff who are (from right) Stephen Bradley, Riedoh Berdien, Ross Russell, Sol Campbell and Stuart Charles-Fevrier take in the action during their friendly international outing against Barbados on 10 March 2017.
Lawrence was without assistant coach Stern John, who lost his daughter, Nikela, to a tragic mishap on the eve of the game.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

“I think in this case it’s going to be the other way around where the local players are going to be the ones leading. And I am hoping the players that come from abroad can just come in and it will be easier for them to integrate with the local players and [learn from] their knowledge of what has been happening in the preparations so far and it should help us to gel together for the game.”

Tickets for the Panama and Mexico contests, which both kick off from 7pm at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain, are available for TT$350 (covered) and TT$200 (uncovered) from March 18 to match day.

(Trinidad and Tobago 26-member squad)

Goalkeepers: Marvin Phillip (Morvant Caledonia United), Jan-Michael Williams (Central FC), Glenroy Samuel (Unattached);

Defenders: Carlos Edwards (Unattached), Alvin Jones, Tristan Hodge (W Connection), Aubrey David (PS Kemi—Finland), Daneil Cyrus (Unattached), Radanfah Abu Bakr (FK Sūduva—Lithuania), Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force), Sheldon Bateau (KC Krylia Sovetov—Russia), Mekeil Williams (Colorado Rapids—USA);

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Triston Hodge (centre) tries to wriggle past some Barbados opponents during international friendly action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 10 March 2017. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Triston Hodge (centre) tries to wriggle past some Barbados opponents during international friendly action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 10 March 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Midfielders: Andre Boucaud (Dagenham & Redbridge—England), Khaleem Hyland (KV Westerlo—Belgium), Kevan George (Jacksonville Armada—USA), Hughtun Hector (W Connection), Leston Paul (Central FC);

Attacking midfielders: Cordell Cato (San Jose Earthquakes—USA), Nathan Lewis (San Juan Jabloteh), Hashim Arcia (Defence Force), Kevin Molino (Minnesota United—USA), Joevin Jones (Seattle Sounders—USA), Levi Garcia (AZ Alkmaar—Netherlands);

Forwards: Kenwyne Jones (Atlanta United FC—USA), Willis Plaza (East Bengal—India), Jamille Boatswain (Defence Force).

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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331 comments

  1. Let us keep it positive ppl let us come out in our numbers and support the team please

  2. Red White And Black all the way

  3. Cmon Ataulla Guerra… Force your way back into the squad!

  4. I must admit I am very pleased. Excellent selection. I would have been disappointed if Kenwyne Jones was not selected, I know his importance on this team. I hope those complaining about Jones coming to support the team. Panama, Mexico look out we coming hard. MISS IT YUH MAD AH WHA!!!!

  5. Coach Lawrence you leave out Jomal ” Bebo ” Williams! That’s our future there l now is d time to include such

  6. hahahahaaha Them really good yes.

  7. Captain Goat is back..,..steups

  8. Return of the goat here we go!!!!

  9. Srry to say but kenwyne jones is real shit, give someone else a chance.

  10. Glad to have Molino back…

  11. Warrior time is now!
    🇹🇹 2- 0 🇵🇦.
    🇹🇹 2-1 🇲🇽.

  12. Not sure why a coach would add Kenwyne Jones to this team. Uncle Ellis is a much better pick to me.

    • Lol. It is no coincidence that so many coaches turn to him.

    • Ppl getting real tied up with the quality that he brings. May not bury all his chances but his contribution is monumental.

    • Whose contribution?? There is clear fall off in Jones contribution. He is not dominant in the air. Because 1. he does not attack the ball in d air. 2. Im seeing shorter guys out jump him consistently And 3. even on pin point crosses he misses the target too often.
      He doesn’t do a descent decent job of holding up the ball anymore. I wish Jones was better. But I think this should be his last chance and if he doesn’t give a descent performance. Pick on form rather than past ability.

    • I watched KJ play live vs mexico in the 4-4 draw …his game was hot and cold but at all times the Mexico team was struggling to deal with him ….physically he was and is imposing. But to judge him on the performance of a disjointed tt team with no consistent support …..service or game plan feeding off scraps is retarded even by TT standards. If we had a striker to step up and take his place they would have done so by now. The challenge will be to play him to his strengths and the required movement of the midfield. ….an isolated forward with an impotent midfield will win nothing …it could be KJ or Messi ….. A motivated and fit KJ is not a player I want to deal with as an opponent …

    • Once he plays with more tenacity and not like if he’s doing the mannequin challenge, he has my support.

    • I actually have that hope with the entire team …. people’s focus on him seemed to misdirect from just how absolutely shitty our midfield and defense has been ….absolute bobol …we been playing out there

    • 4-4 against Mexico the team was playing well that could be because kenwyne was a threat. If u r playing 1 striker and he isn’t a threat or can’t hold up d ball. U r putting immense pressure on a team that was never good at holding onto the ball. And that inability up front put pressure on d other players . I want Jones to do well but if he isn’t then there are other suitable replacements. Give them a fair chance

    • In my humble opinion, if Jones comes on as a substitute at the beginning of the 2nd half, I see him raining goals on opponents. He would be hungrier and energized.

    • Ako the difference in that game was the midfield was winning the ball and getting it to him ..either to feet for him to lay off or from crosses to him…… that made him the threat …hitting a hopeful long ball for a man to chase with the defense ahead of him is not creative midfield play …. thas savannah sweat ….

    • KJ need it. Bcos right now he riding the bench hard for Atlanta United. Just getting like 10 minutes in the 2nd half with ATL United

  13. How can u take a donkey to run triple crown

  14. I hope Kenwyne Jones is not our 1st choice striker 🙁

  15. Jones… Bring him on second half around 65mins.
    He do too much to help football in TNT I fine allyuh people rell ungrateful. If allyuh get behind Him, maybe it will help his mental.

  16. Probably the only country in the Hex that has players who are unattached

  17. Anton Wolfe, I see you rest it on Plaza’s team the other day. Keep representing star!

  18. What about Keston Julien, Lester Peltier and Gavin Hoyte?

  19. Shahdon must have sworn that hat trick cemented his spot for these qualifiers. Well at least I did lol

  20. Hope they gel sufficiently to be successful. Good luck and God speed to the team!!

  21. Bring back anybody but jones

  22. Already the coach has entered the same lane as the past coaches building the hopes of the locals an ditchibg them for the overseas pros .selling the dreams of development .

  23. Hahaha. Very illuminating there Shaun. I don’t know Cheyenne. Will ask.

  24. I think the reason he’s out the squad is because he wasnt selected by the coach

  25. Someone really needs to find out the reason Yohance is out of this squad . It makes absolutely zero sense

    Lasana Liburd any chance you can find out?

  26. Jerrel Bru Britto, with his current form and the opponents, should be in this 26…… oh well….

  27. Another great performance today by Dwane James in Pasaquina’s 3-0 win over historic side Luis Angel Firpo

    https://www.facebook.com/aficion.pasaquinence/posts/1831494280443711:0

    Earl Mango Pierre

  28. The Haiti performance was due to the Dictators presence and also his undermining, not to mention Cummings being shot as well

  29. Dennis u fail before u start how u could bring back jones is better u bring back stern john u will get more out from him than jones

  30. We shall see how the players respond to Tallest.. we need a strong local league where the players can stay locally and earn the same living as abroad and not allow foreign clubs to bench them and keep them inactive which sabotaged our wc chances and team chemistry ….

    A program that will be active year round with them playing together and playing top clubs and nations consistently but keep them local and training together

  31. The gamble of using guys who weren’t playing didn’t work for Hart and caused some low energy games. And he tried to lessen the amount of non-active players in his squad later on.
    But I know it is difficult because our pool isn’t that large. So now Dennis has to try and find a selection.
    Although of course I recognise that we have players like Weslie John and Dwane James and Jerrel Britto and Keston Julien and so on that should get a look at some point. Wesley did okay last year in the South America tour.

  32. how do we leace out nen who pkayong in mexico to play against mexico?…not like those who picked ahead of then are match fit and far better technically

    • At the least, they would be accustomed to the style and pace–even though they are in the second division. Then they would also have the extra motivation.
      Worked for T&T against England for instance when our mostly lower league British players played out of their skins.
      Oh well. Hard luck fellahs… Next time.

    • I woulda go for Yohance …the other two guys to me are at the same level or less of the guys picked ahead of them …. you simply can’t choose everyone

  33. It’s a regular problem for T&T coaches now as far as players who are in their pre-season and stuff. That led to that sleepwalking performance against Haiti last year in the Copa America Centenario playoff.

  34. rookie coach with players who not.playing regularly…oh well

  35. Would have been nice to see Julius James get a chance after doing so well with Central. But he is in pre season now so I understand him missing out.

  36. Lasana Liburd didnt abu baka miss the barbados game to sign wit a new club ?? Aint fightin de team but if we playin mexico at least one ah de trio should of gotten a pick

  37. From 26 players, the only guys playing regular competitive football right now are: Radanfah Abu Bakr (FK Sūduva—Lithuania), Sheldon Bateau (KC Krylia Sovetov—Russia), Andre Boucaud (Dagenham & Redbridge—England), Kevin Molino (Minnesota United—USA), Joevin Jones (Seattle Sounders—USA), Levi Garcia (AZ Alkmaar—Netherlands) and Willis Plaza (East Bengal—India).
    You can add Khaleem Hyland (KV Westerlo—Belgium) as his season just ended.
    That’s eight from 26. That’s a big gamble to me at this level.
    Some of that is unavoidable and Dennis can’t be blamed for it, especially with the Pro League out of season.
    But if two players are close in terms of quality, I’d go with the guy who is playing.

  38. Lasana Liburd whe de 2 surprise selections DL spoke about, kenwyne ???

  39. Someone needs to explain to me why in every other respectable national team without a strong local league, they pick FIRST the players playing in the most competitive league abroad, then fill in with local based players or money leagues without good level if and only if needed. Why in T&T local players and players based on leagues non competitive get picked over players in competitive league?

  40. I can’t believe no Tyrone Charles and Marshall ….. Arcia and Nathan Lewis are very very ordinary .

  41. Wow , what does Yohance Marshall have to do ??

  42. Oh gosh boy ..I hope we not seeing a repeat of the friend friend thing . G eez

  43. Brent, Cordell not even on the bench for San Jose and still good enough? Wow.