The Pro League will kick off without its marquee Trinidad and Tobago international players as Soca Warriors head coach Dennis Lawrence got the green light to take a home-based squad to Colorado on 23 May to prepare for next month’s 2018 World Cup qualifier away to the United States.
The travelling squad could also include several overseas-based players whose domestic season would have ended by then, including Khaleem Hyland (KV Westerlo—Belgium), Levi Garcia (AZ Alkmaar—Netherlands), Sheldon Bateau (Krylia Sovetov Samara—Russia) (Murcielagos FC—Mexico) and Shahdon Winchester.
The Warriors meet the United States on 8 June at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado, which is 5,223 feet above sea level. It is the home ground for US Major League Soccer (MLS) team Colorado Rapids which employs Trinidad and Tobago defender Mekeil Williams.
Trinidad and Tobago play at altitude again, five days later, as they travel to San Jose to tackle Costa Rica at 3,845 feet above sea level.
“The home-based players and the staff will get to Colorado on May 23rd and then we get down to work,” Lawrence told the TTFA Media, “with the idea obviously being for the players to get acclimatised in the best possible manner and also get physically ready for the game.”
Lawrence expects his full squad to be present at the training camp in Prentup Field, Colorado by 4 June.
The TTFA announced that the Warriors hope to have two closed door friendlies before the 9 June fixture. However, with no international opponent identified, the games are expected to be against local club or university opposition.
In contrast, the United States will tackle Venezuela in an exhibition match at Utah on 3 June—five days before they face Trinidad and Tobago.
Lawrence was at the Hasely Crawford Stadium yesterday for 2017 Caribbean Club Championship action and would have been pleased to see two of his international players on the score sheet.
San Juan Jabloteh winger Nathan Lewis and Central FC full back Carlos Edwards scored decisive goals as they eased to wins in their opening group matches against Haiti’s Racing Club and Antigua’s Grenades FC respectively.
There was a strong showing too by Central playmaker Sean De Silva while his colleague Nathaniel “Spanish” Garcia scored a cracking drive. However, attacking midfielder Keron Cummings was an unused substitute for the “Couva Sharks” and remains a peripheral figure at domestic level since he was shot in the leg, a year and a half ago.
The Pro League is due to kick off on 26 May with the Charity Shield. But the local clubs—Central included—have agreed to allow their players to join the national team camp and continue with weakened squads.