Nobody’s laughing anymore.
The Trinidad and Tobago national senior women’s team made some unwelcomed headlines last week when head coach Randy Waldrum, an American native, took to Twitter to request financial assistance for his squad.
But, as the 2014 CONCACAF Championship kicked off in Missouri, the “Women Soca Warriors” came desperately close to biting the hand that fed them with a commendable performance; albeit in a losing effort.
Trinidad and Tobago and the United States, FIFA’s number one ranked team, were tied at 0-0 up until the 54th minute when veteran Abby Wambach, the most prolific scorer in the history of the women’s game, broke the deadlock with a header into an empty net after a cross from teammate Alex Morgan.
It was Wambach’s 171st goal from 225 international outings
Warriors goalkeeper Kimika Forbes had stormed off her line to block Morgan’s path but was unable to thwart the American’s cross. While she stood between the uprights, Forbes looked unbeatable on the night with a series of decisive stops as she kept out one long range effort from Megan Rapinoe with some help from the bar and produced two brilliant close range saves to deny Wambach and Sydney Leroux.
Most women’s teams would need a bit of luck against the USA; much less the poorly funded Trinidad and Tobago squad, which is unranked by FIFA due to spending over 18 months without competitive football before the August Caribbean Cup.
But yesterday’s contest was no shooting gallery. In front of Forbes, Trinidad and Tobago’s outfield players cleverly swapped from half-field presses to deeper zonal marking to unsettle an experienced American team that used three players, captain Christie Rampone, substitute Heather O’Reilly and Wambach, who had over 200 international caps each.
Once in possession, the Warriors demonstrated a clear game plan too as they tried to unleash speedy wingers Kennya “Yaya” Cordner and Ahkeela Mollon, who play professionally in the United States and Sweden respectively.
Cordner was the more menacing attacker on the night and she would be disappointed not to have forced a save from US goalkeeper Hope Solo off a few decent half chances.
At the other end, there were heroes everywhere in red shirts although it was impossible to miss the contributions of Arin King and Rhea Belgrave at the back.
Captain Maylee Attin-Johnson, as always, was a calming figure in central midfield while Liana Hinds and Brianna Ryce, who both missed T&T’s successful Caribbean Cup competition in August, acquitted themselves well. To be fair, who didn’t?
Still, the Warriors must now show their ability to switch from solid defence to incisive offensive if Trinidad and Tobago is to qualify for its first Women’s World Cup.
Haiti snatched all three points yesterday with a 1-0 win over Guatemala, despite playing for more than an hour with 10 players, and the two Caribbean nations meet in a crucial play off on Friday evening at Toyota Park in Chicago.
If Haiti wins, the French-speaking islanders will move to the semi-final round for the first time.
If Trinidad and Tobago wins, then Waldrum and his ladies are halfway there with Monday’s meeting with Guatemala remaining at the RFK Stadium in Washington.
And what if Haiti and the Women Warriors draw?
Well, that depends. Can Haiti restrict the United States to just one goal?
Trinidad and Tobago left the field with zero points yesterday. But Forbes and company could reap the benefit of their dogged performance in a few days if goal difference decides which team advances to the knock out stage alongside the host nation.
Trinidad and Tobago: 1.Kimika Forbes (GK); 16.Brianna Ryce, 4.Rhea Belgrave, 5.Arin King, 20.Lauryn Hutchinson, 15.Liana Hinds (18.Khadisha Debesette 79); 12.Ahkeela Mollon, 8.Patrice Superville (14.Karyn Forbes 82), 9.Maylee Attin-Johnson, 19.Kennya Cordner; 10.Tasha St Louis (3.Mariah Shade 46).
Unused substitutes: 21.Tinesha Palmer (GK), 2.Ayanna Russell, 11.Janine Francois, 6.Khadidra Debesette, 7.Dernelle Mascall, 13.Anique Walker.
Coach: Randy Waldrum
United States: 1.Hope Solo (GK); 11.Ali Krieger, 3.Christie Rampone (captain), 4.Beky Sauerbrunn, 16.Meghan Klingenberg; 12.Lauren Holiday, 10.Carli Lloyd, 15.Megan Rapinoe (8.Amy Shilling 86), 13.Alex Morgan, 14.Christen Press (2.Sydney Leroux 61), 20.Abby Wambach (9.Heather O’Reilly 77).
Unused substitutes: 18.Ashlyn Harris (GK), 5.Kelley O’Hara, 6.Whitney Engen, 7.Morgan Brian, 17.Tobin Heath, 19.Crystal Dunn.
Coach: Jill Ellis
2015 Women’s World Cup qualifiers
(Wed Oct 15)
Haiti 1 (Lindsay Zullo 70), Guatemala 0 at Kansas City
United States 1 (Abby Wambach 54), Trinidad and Tobago 0 at Kansas City
(Fri Oct 17)
Trinidad and Tobago v Haiti, 6.30 pm, Chicago;
United States v Guatemala, 8.30 pm, Chicago;