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Great Expectations: Pro League’s hottest young talent

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.

Photo: Central forward Rundell Winchester (far right) is congratulated by teammates (from left) Jason Marcano, Jamal Jack and Keion Goodridge during a Pro League contest. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Central forward Rundell Winchester (far right) is congratulated by teammates (from left) Jason Marcano, Jamal Jack and Keion Goodridge during a Pro League contest.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

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”.

Photo: W Connection right back Alvin Jones (centre) fires at goal while Central FC goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams takes guard. Looking on are Central players Rundell Winchester (left) and Yohance Marshall. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection right back Alvin Jones (centre) fires at goal while Central FC goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams takes guard.
Looking on are Central players Rundell Winchester (left) and Yohance Marshall.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

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)

Photo: St Ann's Rangers stand-in captain Jelani Peters (right) tries to catch up to Caledonia AIA winger Nathan Lewis. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: St Ann’s Rangers stand-in captain Jelani Peters (right) tries to catch up to Caledonia AIA winger Nathan Lewis.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

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)

Photo: Central FC defender Elton John (left) tries to wrestle the ball from W Connection midfielder Jomal Williams during the 2013 TTFA FA Trophy final. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Central FC defender Elton John (left) tries to wrestle the ball from W Connection midfielder Jomal Williams during the 2013 TTFA FA Trophy final.
(Courtesy Wired868)

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.

Photo: W Connection attacker Neil Benjamin Jr (left) tries to escape from Guaya right back Leroy Jones during the Toyota Classic semi-finals. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection attacker Neil Benjamin Jr (left) tries to escape from Guaya right back Leroy Jones during the Toyota Classic semi-finals.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“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)

Photo: Central FC forward Dwight Quintero (left) tries to escape from North East Stars midfielder Keith Simpson during a Pro Leagu contest. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC forward Dwight Quintero (left) tries to escape from North East Stars midfielder Keith Simpson during a Pro Leagu contest.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

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.

Photo: Caledonia AIA forward Dylon King (centre) holds off Central FC defender Elton John (right) while Jamal Jack looks on. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Caledonia AIA forward Dylon King (centre) holds off Central FC defender Elton John (right) while Jamal Jack looks on.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

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.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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22 comments

  1. Should get a national team call up doh but everything takes time. Just keep wrking.

  2. Great work Alvin Jones CONGRATS!!!!!!!

  3. yess dats true coaches love experience in those position

  4. There were not many candidates for goalkeepers or for central defence and holding midfield roles. But I suppose most coaches go for experience there.

  5. good stuff as always Lasana Liburd.

  6. Nigel I really only buys the Adidas copa for meh players yes, but these nowadays players just want to be like Messi eh, the same way basketball players wants to be just like Mike Jordan eh, so I am giving them what they ask meh for yes. hehehehehehehehe Them really good yes.

  7. Nigel, you want him to buy them the Neymar? Best you just give them a banana skin to run with! Hahaha.

  8. Earl Mango Pierre, you is ah waste of time yes. All dis talk about Brazil this and Brazil that, and yuh end up buying Messi boots? LOL.

  9. Just left Kenny’s sport store and picked up the new Messi goalscoring boots for both Marcus Joseph and Trevin Caesar and along with the golden boots the winner will be receiving $5000 in cash instead of the plasma TV, thanks for your input Asante Caruth-Dilworth my lawyer for life and Prince Borde. VIVA BRAZIL.

  10. Knox played for Police briefly about a year ago. Hopefully, he will be back. Thompson is trying to restart his career. Trinidad and Tobago isn’t short of right backs though.

  11. Lasana, glad to see somebody recognizing the youngsters. It have two fellas who fall off the map; Stephon Knox, a former U-15 national player ( striker ), who disappeared after that , did not see him even at the colleges league level. and Jake Thompson ( right winger ) ,a standout in one of our U-20 world cups ,( i think it was in italy ,I stand to be corrected ). But he disappeared after that. They were good prospects who just vanished.

  12. But then that is just a guess from us too!

  13. I had that debate with a Pro League manager. The argument is that Benjamin is faster on the ball but Winchester is faster running into space.

  14. Is Winchester really the fastest? Neil Benjamin seems faster. Of course it’s just based on casual observation.

  15. Its a little disappointing that we have such a wealth of depth at the RB position but we have no depth at any other position. We have the hoyte brothers, cyrus and now our biggest talent at this position. Yet we have no LB and hardly any LM/LW. Has Alvin played LB this any game season?

    • Lasana Liburd

      Joevin Jones probably played left back all of three times this season and not from the start either. It only happened during a stint when their first choice left back, Kurt Frederick, was injured and their second choice, Devaughn Elliot, was struggling.
      Everywhere else, we have players filling in at left back rather than the genuine article. Caledonia’s Noel Williams and Defence Force’s Ross Russell Jr are both attacking players who do a job there when they have to. North East Stars have rotated which player takes a shot at it and Point Fortin uses a young midfielder, Glen Sutton, there.
      Kevin Villaroel will hopefully recover from a long term injury soon and become an alternative. But Hart might have to look for someone with Trini parentage off the island who can play there.

    • Lasana Liburd

      I wouldn’t want to discount Jelani Peters though. He is still learning the game at 20 and might be a late bloomer. He has the courage and good physical attributes. He just needs mentoring, experience and a good attitude to learning now.

  16. Big up Alvin Jones. Soca worriors next big defender