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King selects US-based quintet in T&T U-20 squad; Warriors await visas

There were four new inclusions but no major surprises today when Trinidad and Tobago national under-20 head coach Derek King named his 20-man to contest next month’s CONCACAF Championship in Jamaica.

The top four teams at CONCACAF level will advance to the New Zealand 2015 FIFA Under-20 World Cup.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago under-20 striker Kadeem Corbin (right) prepares to fire past Haiti goalkeeper Steve Sanon in the 2014 U-20 Caribbean Cup final. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago under-20 striker Kadeem Corbin (right) prepares to fire past Haiti goalkeeper Steve Sanon in the 2014 U-20 Caribbean Cup final.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

The young “Soca Warriors” lifted the Caribbean crown in September—albeit in a competition that did not include regional rival, Jamaica—and King believes his team is even stronger now.

Caribbean Cup MVP and gifted frontman Kadeem Corbin, attacking midfielders Levi Garcia and Kishun Seecharan, holding midfielder Neveal Hackshaw and versatile defender Jesus Perez all had trials in Europe since while defender Maurice Ford and winger Akeem Garcia played regularly in the local Pro League for defending champion DIRECTV W Connection. The 17-year-old Garcia (L), who is a Form Five student at Shiva Boys Hindu College, is believed to be close to a European move.

These players will be joined in Jamaica by a United States-based quartet of university students in: Brendon Creed (Temple University), Leland Archer (College of Charleston), Duane Muckette (University of South Florida) and Ricardo John (Virginia Tech).

Houston Dynamo Juniors custodian Johan Welch, who was first choice for the young Warriors during the Caribbean qualifying stage, completes King’s tally of five US-based players.

“These player such as Muckette, Creed and John will definitely add some quality to what we already have,” said King, “with the likes of Corbin, Levi Garcia and the other boys who did exceptionally well for us in the Caribbean Championship.”

Photo: FC Santa Rosa midfielder Duane Muckette (left) tussles with Caledonia AIA wing back Walter Moore during the 2012 Toyota Cup competition. Muckette and Moore are now based in the United States and Europe respectively. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: FC Santa Rosa midfielder Duane Muckette (left) tussles with Caledonia AIA wing back Walter Moore during the 2012 Toyota Cup competition.
Muckette and Moore are now based in the United States and Europe respectively.
(Courtesy Wired868)

Creed, Archer and Welch have all graduated from the national under-17 team while Muckette, who was installed as vice-captain of the current squad, was a starter on the national under-20 squad in 2012, which crashed out in the first qualifying phase.

The rest of King’s under-20 squad includes: captain Shannon Gomez, Martieon Watson, Jabari Mitchell, Aikim Andrews (all W Connection), Javon Sample, Kevon Goddard (both Central FC),  Akeem Humphrey (Club Sando) and Matthew Woo Ling (St Anthony’s College).

North East Stars’ holding midfielder Keon Joseph and Naparima College striker Nicholas Dillon failed to keep their spots from the Caribbean qualifiers while others like Defence Force winger Akeem Roach, who missed several sessions due to illness, did not do enough to force their way in.

Roach was among the scorers on Saturday when the young Warriors whipped Caledonia AIA 5-1 in a practice match. Corbin, who is a Pro League player with St Ann’s Rangers, scored twice against Caledonia while Woo Ling got one goal from the penalty spot.

Last week, King told Wired868 he would try to stuff his team with utility players for the gruelling tournament that comprises of five group matches in 12 days, which is contrary to the FIFA bylaw for the welfare of players.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago under-20 midfielder Neveal Hackshaw (right) holds off Curaçao defender Luivienno Statia during the U-20 Caribbean Cup. Hackshaw is one of 11 players in coach Derek King's 20-man squad that can operate in more than one position. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago under-20 midfielder Neveal Hackshaw (right) holds off Curaçao defender Luivienno Statia during the U-20 Caribbean Cup.
Hackshaw is one of 11 players in coach Derek King’s 20-man squad that can operate in more than one position.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“We need players who can play in more than one position,” said King. “The 20 we select will more or less be players who can play in more than one position so it gives us an opportunity to rotate.”

The national under-20 team has not played a single international practice game since they got together as they made do with match-ups against local Pro League and Super League clubs. In contrast, the United States and Canada both had European tours with games against the likes of England and Russia while teams like Jamaica and Panama recently finished invitational international tournaments.

The young Warriors were forced to cancel a trip to Mexico due to financial issues while they also delayed their proposed Fort Lauderdale tour, which was initially supposed to begin on Saturday.

At present, the national under-20 team does not have US visas.

“We are waiting for an Embassy appointment for either Monday evening or Tuesday morning,” said King.

It would have cost an estimated TT$17,000 for visas for the squad and the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), by its own record, banked TT$1.6 million from the senior women team’s FIFA Play Off contest against Ecuador on December 2.

Photo: Just over 20,000 Trinidad and Tobago supporters came out to watch the "Women Soca Warriors" face Ecuador in Port of Spain. But many did not stay until the final whistle. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Just over 20,000 Trinidad and Tobago supporters came out to watch the “Women Soca Warriors” face Ecuador in Port of Spain.
But many did not stay until the final whistle.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

However, TTFA official William Wallace said he delayed the acquisition of visas due to uncertainty over the funding of the trip to Fort Lauderdale.

“I put a hold on the visa (applications) when I heard the funding was a trouble because that is about $17,000,” said Wallace. “There was a definite ‘no’ from the PS on Monday who said that there were no funds. So we were then hoping to train here and travel to Jamaica directly and we wouldn’t need visas for that.

“So I put a hold on it until I was sure about the funding. Not knowing put a spoke in our planning.”

Unfortunately it meant that, when the SPORTT Company did agree to fund the young Warriors last Tuesday evening, the players did not have the necessary travel documents to immediately proceed to their pre-CONCACAF camp.

At present, the under-20 squad is due to depart for Florida on Thursday January 1. The Warriors will then play matches against undisclosed teams on January 3 and 5 before heading for Jamaica on January 7. King hopes that at least one of those matches will be against the Canada under-20 team.

The team’s camp in Fort Lauderdale is fully funded by TSTT.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Kishun Seecharan (centre) holds off Suriname player Ervin Slagveer during the 2014 Under-20 Caribbean Cup. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Kishun Seecharan (centre) holds off Suriname player Ervin Slagveer during the 2014 Under-20 Caribbean Cup.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Trinidad and Tobago is grouped with hosts Jamaica, Aruba, Panama, Guatemala and the United States at CONCACAF level. The group winner will qualify automatically for the Under-20 World Cup while the second and third placed teams will enter a play off.

(Trinidad and Tobago national under-20 team)

Goalkeepers: Johan Welch (Houston Dynamo Juniors), Javon Sample (Central FC);

Defenders: Shannon Gomez, Martieon Watson, Maurice Ford (all W Connection), Brendon Creed (Temple University), Leland Archer (College of Charleston), Jesus Perez (North East Stars);

Holding midfielders: Neveal Hackshaw (North East Stars), Kevon Goddard (Central FC),  Akeem Humphrey (Club Sando), Matthew Woo Ling (St Anthony’s College);

Attacking Midfielders: Aikim Andrews, Akeem Garcia, Jabari Mitchell (all W Connection), Duane Muckette (University of South Florida), Levi Garcia (Shiva Boys HC), Kishun Seecharan (Club Sando);

Forwards: Kadeem Corbin (St Ann’s Rangers), Ricardo John (Virginia Tech).

(Technical Staff)

Derek King (head coach), Hutson Charles (assistant coach), Michael Maurice (goalkeeper coach), Stephen Hart (technical advisor), Douglas Archer (manager), Wayne Cunningham (assistant manager), Terrence Babwah (doctor), Michael Taylor (physio), Sharon Joseph (trainer), Michael Williams (equipment manager), Shaun Fuentes (media officer).

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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25 comments

  1. I only hope we they don’t show to this tournament and meet other teams with 23 oui.

  2. I can’t candidly remember much of Ricardo John, but I know he scored a few goals and was direct in his play. After seeing Dillion’s form, I guess Coach King made a good decision there. After all he does have a way with strikers; can’t remember a poor Coach King’s watch.

  3. Looks good Lasana Liburd. Got a scare because I didn’t see Jabari Mitchell’s name at a first glance. Seems to have good balance in all areas of the field. Watson and Creed can play a holding mid if necessary (doesn’t look like we need them there). A bit worried about the strikers though.

  4. OK that’s good. Thanks for clarifying

  5. Two goalkeepers. King said they asked CONCACAF for 23 players and were turned down.

  6. How come 20 not 23 cause it has 3 gks in that squad

  7. Levi Garcia and Akeem Garcia are both believed to be able to play upfront if needed. And they usually play a 4-2-3-1 system.

  8. Yes. The thing is Jan-Michael and Marvin would have had more than a dozen international caps by Enil’s age. And Jan might have already been training with Connection first team alongside Colombian Alejandro Figueroa.
    That’s why I wonder if we are spotting goalies too late.

  9. Only 2 out and out strikers selected though. That’s interesting

  10. It’s sad that a lot of our teams have the psychological burden of under-preparedness to deal with alongside the other usual worries

  11. Enile is showing some promise as a GK

  12. This reminds me of the youth team with Mickey, Dwarika, Avery, Demmin and Ernest and Lyndon Andrews.
    Nice to see promising defenders like Watson coming through. I always felt Demmin and maybe Ernest should have gone on to big things for us.

  13. I don’t understand why we don’t seem to be producing much goalkeepers anymore. We used to churn them out.
    Now I feel like we are not identifying them early enough.

  14. I don’t think Ricardo is a poacher (at least from what I have seen). He is a channel guy that can cause problems for defenses with his speed. He has to get stronger but that’s understandable.

  15. Ricardo John is a dynamic striker, most goals at Intercol last year, and on scholarship doing well. He should also be a good addition. He has great speed, strong in the air and on the ball and finishes calmly.

  16. Very interesting. King admitted that he took a gamble on Ricardo because he hadn’t seen him play much live. But I guess I understand why now.
    I wonder if his strong point is as a poacher or working the channels. Even as a teenager, Stern John already demonstrated that he was a poacher. But I know it usually takes a while for players to understand how to operate in the box.

  17. Ohh, I saw Leland a in practices and a few games in sept. He was very solid at central defence, he has good pace but didn’t have very quick, shifty forwards running at him. He’s very strong in the air, at 6’4″ I don’t think he has a choice. In the both games I saw he was moved to attacking mid and forward in the 2nd periods. Not the best attacker but he’s no slouch with the ball at his feet.

  18. I haven’t seen Ricardo John play recently but as Brent (under) stated this kid has to be big time playing in the toughest conference in the US scoring 5 goals he is definitely one team T&T needs to keep an eye on. Darrel Roberts played at Liberty U against weaker opposition scored 9 as a freshman, was all conference and ended up playing with Sparta Rotterdam in Holland after college. At 6’3″ 170 he’ll eventually be pushed to 180 this youth seems destined for big things.

  19. Ricardo John plays for my former teammate at VaTech. I have seen him twice and both times he played well. Speed kills…. dude has intangibles that you can’t team as I was told. Let me put it another way, the man plays in the toughest college conference in America and earned a 2nd team all conference selection as a first year player. Not many trinis have done that.

  20. I understand Leland can play left back too. We seem short of genuine left backs though. Ford, Perez and Leland are all really centre backs who can play there a bit.
    In any case, that is a nationwide issue. The only genuine left backs I remember over the last two and a half decades were Avery John and Marvin Faustin. And Faustin was really a midfielder and Avery was a converted central defender I think.

  21. Leyland is a good addition to the back and can play centre mid (defensive)

  22. There are some many options in attack. Muckette, Jabari or Corbin can play at ’10’ and Corbin or Ricardo can play at ‘9.’ And plenty quality options for everywhere else except maybe right back and in goal…
    I don’t know Ricardo John though. I didn’t cover school football when he played. Brent Bennett, Kester Lendor or Ian R Briggs, have any of you seen John play?

  23. It looks okay. Don’t like the fact that it’s only 20 players though :/