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Warriors hold El Salvador 2-2 in Gold Cup opener

The Trinidad and Tobago national football started its 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup campaign with a 2-2 draw against El Salvador tonight in the opening Group B match-up at the Red Bull Arena in New Jersey.

Kenwyne Jones and Keon Daniel scored in each half for the “Soca Warriors” in a thrilling encounter although, at the final whistle, new head coach Stephen Hart may have been grateful to goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams for a stunning save in the dying seconds to deny El Salvador substitute Mark Blanco.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams (bottom) is congratulated for his heroics during the 2012 Caribbean Cup. (Courtesy Allan V. Crane/ Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams (bottom) is congratulated for his heroics during the 2012 Caribbean Cup.
(Courtesy Allan V. Crane/ Wired868)

The Warriors will now travel to Miami where they will face Haiti in their second Group B assignment at the Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens. A win against Haiti should assure Trinidad and Tobago of a berth in the knockout round with a game to spare since four points is likely be enough for at least one of two available spots for the best third placed teams.

There are 12 participating teams in the 2013 Gold Cup finals and only four will be eliminated in the first round. The Warriors would always have fancied their chances of progression, especially as they avoided heavyweights like United States, Costa Rica and Mexico in the group draw. But Hart’s men gave more tangible reason for optimism tonight.

Hart spoke of the need to make a quick impression on Trinidad and Tobago’s Central American opponent and the Warriors did not let him down.

In the tenth minute, Carlos Edwards cut inside from the left on a mazy dribble through the El Salvadorian midfield and tried to thread the ball through to Jones on his left. The opposing defence kept the ball away from the intended recipient but it deflected into Daniel’s path and the Philadelphia Union midfielder reacted quickly to steer home at the near post.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Keon Daniel goes around El Salvador goalkeeper Dagoberto Portillo. (Courtesy YahooSports)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Keon Daniel goes around El Salvador goalkeeper Dagoberto Portillo.
(Courtesy YahooSports)

So far, so good. But a cheap free kick conceded by Kevon Carter offered El Salvador a half-chance in the 21st minute and Rodolfo Zalaya responded with a curling effort that didn’t quite find the corner but zipped past Williams and into the back of the net.

Williams was beaten again in the 42st minute as Rafael Burgos drove goalwards from an outrageous angle but saw his effort rap the heel of the far post before rebounding harmlessly away.

The second half saw both nations threaten as Burgos and Edwards went close before El Salvador struck again through Zalaya who forced a header past Williams from close range off a right side cross.

Zalaya, who turned 25 last week, is becoming a regular source of goals for El Salvador. That was his 15th international goal from 35 appearances.

In contrast, Jones had just seven goals from 50 full international games before tonight. But the Stoke City man gave a reminder as to why he has been on the books of three England Premier League clubs with a fine individual effort to pull the Warriors back level.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forward Kenwyne Jones holds off El Salvador midfielder Richard Menjivar (far right). (Courtesy FoxSoccer)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forward Kenwyne Jones holds off El Salvador midfielder Richard Menjivar (far right).
(Courtesy FoxSoccer)

There were two defenders in attendance when his namesake, Joevin Jones, played a long ball into his path. But Jones (K) chested the ball down and spun around El Salvador captain Victor Turcios in one fluid movement and held off Steven Purdy before lashing left footed past goalkeeper Dagoberto Portillo and into the far corner.

Turcios, incidentally, plays for RoPS in the Finland Premier League alongside Trinidad and Tobago playmaker Ataullah Guerra who is absent because the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) waited too long to apply for his visa. Another talented young defender, Sheldon Bateau, is absent as a request was not sent to his Belgium employer, KV Mechelen, in time.

Perhaps such cock-ups are the difference between three points and one at this level.

The Warriors, who fluctuated between steady and sloppy in midfield, did seek out a winner as Daniel and Edwards failed to beat Portillo with two half-chances.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Khaleem Hyland (centre) knocks El Salvador forward Rafael Burgos off the ball. Hyland was a combination of strength and composure for the "Soca Warriors."
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Khaleem Hyland (centre) knocks El Salvador forward Rafael Burgos off the ball.
Hyland was a combination of strength and composure for the “Soca Warriors.”

But, in the end, the Trinidad and Tobago team was thankful for the solitary point as Osael Romero stepped inside Power but struck his effort off the heel of Williams’ post again. And Williams, who captained the Warriors through the qualifying rounds, saved the day with a brilliant one-handed save after a cushioned Romero header was met by a stunning overhead kick by substitute Mark Blanco from close quarters.

In 10 meetings with El Salvador over the last three decades, Trinidad and Tobago won four and drew three but two of their three losses came in this competition. Both teams might have been satisfied with a draw at the final whistle.

It has been 13 years since Trinidad and Tobago won a match at the Gold Cup and then, under coach Bertille St Clair, the boys in red, white and black went on to storm their way into the semifinals.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago coach Stephen Hart (centre) can take his team into the knockout stage with a win against Haiti on Friday. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago coach Stephen Hart (centre) can take his team into the knockout stage with a win against Haiti on Friday.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Hart can dream of doing at least as well if he can help his troops outwit Haiti on Friday. Trinidad and Tobago and Haiti played to a goalless draw at the Caribbean Cup tournament last December and the Warriors have significantly enhanced their team since then with the inclusion of Khaleem Hyland, Justin Hoyte, Darryl Roberts, Edwards, Daniel and Jones (K).

Hart and new director of football, Leo Beenhakker, were supposedly brought in to strengthen Trinidad and Tobago’s technical staff. A result against Haiti would arguably be a step in the right direction for the new coaching duo.

(Teams)

Trinidad and Tobago (4-2-3-1/ 4-4-2): 21.Jan-Michael Williams; 17.Justin Hoyte, 5.Carlyle Mitchell (6.Daneil Cyrus 83), 20.Seon Power, 3.Joevin Jones; 18.Densill Theobald (Captain), 8.Khaleem Hyland; 16.Kevon Carter (12.Darryl Roberts 70), 19.Keon Daniel (23.Jamal Gay 83), 11.Carlos Edwards; 9.Kenwyne Jones.

Unused substitutes: 1.Marvin Phillip, 7.Chris Birchall, 10.Kevin Molino, 13.Cornell Glen, 14.Andre Boucaud, 22.Cleon John, 25.Aubrey David, 26.Curtis Gonzales, 32.Radanfah Abu Bakr.

Coach: Stephen Hart

 

El Salvador (4-4-2): 1.Dagoberto Portillo; 2.Moises Xavier Garcia, 3.Victor Turcios (Captain), 4.Steven Purdy, 16.Jaime Alas, 14.Dustin Corea (12.Andres Flores 62), 8.Osael Romero, 7.Darwin Ceren, 6.Richard Menjivar, 11.Rodolfo Zelaya, 9.Rafael Burgos (17.Mark Blanco 78).

Unused substitutes: 5.Jose Granadino, 10.Kevin Santamaria, 13.Alexander Larin, 15.Darwin Bonilla, 18.Benji Villalobos, 19.Gerson Mayen, 20.Josue Flores, 21.Nestor Renderos, 22.Derby Carrillo, 23.Jose Gutierrez.

Coach: Agustin Castillo

 

Gold Cup 2013 finals

Group B

(Mon July 8)

Trinidad and Tobago 2 (Keon Daniel 10, Kenwyne Jones 73), El Salvador 2 (Rodolfo Zalaya 21, 69)

Honduras 2 (Rony Martinez 3, Marvin Chavez 77), Haiti 0

 

Editor’s Note: How do you think Trinidad and Tobago did against El Salvador? And how far can we go in this Gold Cup tournament?

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3 comments

  1. Good result for our first game! Finally we scored, not one but two well executed goals. I thought the game could have gone either way. Several missed scoring chances by both teams in the final period, with El Salvador having the better opportunity. As for the Warriors, our defenders need to be more aware of their opponent’s movements on and off the ball. We need to improve on our passes, be more creative especially in midfield, and on attack at this level we must be able to convert our half chances into goals. Great game saving result by Williams! The game was entertaining from a fan perspective, 4 great goals, congrats! Next game…Haiti is a tough opponent but, with the necessary adjustments in the team’s overall performance, victory can be achieved. Go TT Warriors!!

  2. A point is better than none at all, while we could have, or should have won the game, we didn’t but had we lost, then the critics would have been on fire. The coach has something to build on like cutting-out simple mistakes like stray passes and not concentrating for 90 minutes and not keeping the ball. So it’s Haiti next on Friday and Good Luck “Soca Warriors”, we can only go up from here.

  3. GREAT!!! Showing guys….. i must say i’m really impressed with the way the team played for at least the the first 20 mins or so. We kept the ball nicely…a little too much in our own half though…but it shows that we have the quality of players to play good football. Great GOALS from Keon and Kenwyne. Kenwyne’s was particularly nice…because you want to see your strikers score goals like that. Our attack looks good and promising….we would like to take those half chances with a little more intuitiveness though (Carlos and Keon). Jan GREAT save bro…on that last chance. The defense needs to stay focus though….the second goal looked so familiar (Peru second game) they always seem to end up on the wrong side of the forwards. Credit to El Salvador as well….great goals. Next up Haiti. TT 2 – Haiti 0