Trinidad and Tobago 2014 Player of the Year, Kevin Molino, will miss the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament and the start of the “Soca Warriors” Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign after suffering a torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) in his right knee on Saturday night.
Molino, who represents United States Major League Soccer (MLS) team Orlando City SC, sustained the injury in a friendly match against Brazilian Seria A club Ponte Preta and will also miss the rest of the MLS season.
Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Stephen Hart wished Molino a full recovery from the sad setback.
“This is extremely sad for Kevin,” Hart told the TTFA Media. “This is always difficult for a young player now attempting to establish his career. I wish him the very best and a full recovery.
“The Gold Cup is less important than his ability to return to the game at the most appropriate time.”
Molino said he was devastated by the injury but vowed to bounce back like several of his compatriots, including Warriors captain Kenwyne Jones, who overcame similar ordeals.
“It’s devastating but this is the game,” said Molino. “I’ve known players who’ve had serious knee injuries before like Carlos (Edwards), Kenwyne (Jones), Cornell (Glen) and most recently Robert Primus and they came back from it.
“By the grace of God, hopefully I will be back and be able to continue my career and push on to becoming the player I’ve been aiming to be.”
Compatriot Dr Mario John, a Trinidad and Tobago orthopaedic surgeon based in Orlando, will monitor Molino’s condition as the midfielder prepares for surgery in just over a week.
Molino is a two-time MVP in the United States’ second tier league while, in his debut MLS season, he is already among the league leaders in chances created. He has tallied one assist in seven games for Orlando and is a regular starter alongside former FIFA World Player of the Year and Brazil attacker, Kaka.
Molino scored in a crucial 2-0 Gold Cup win over Honduras, two years ago, as Trinidad and Tobago qualified for the knockout out round of the tournament for only the second time. And his impending absence is a huge blow for the Warriors, who are already reeling from key injuries.
Hughtun Hector, who is employed by Vietnam club Hanoi T&T, is also out injured while former Signal Hill schoolboy Keon Daniel has not played since he went AWOL two years ago. It means that, from the four playmakers used by Hart in competitive action, only Central FC attacker Ataulla Guerra is available.
If Hart persists with his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation, Point Fortin Civic forward Marcus Joseph, DIRECTV W Connection playmaker Hashim Arcia, Central’s Sean De Silva and the North East Stars pair of Duane Muckette and Keron Cummings will be among the main contenders for the vacant post.
Central forward Willis Plaza or Connection attacker Shahdon Winchester can also be played behind a main striker, just as Hart used India-based veteran Cornell Glen to good effect at at the 2013 Gold Cup, while Chicago Fire utility player Joevin Jones, usually a left back with the Warriors, can also be given a more offensive assignment.
Conversely, Hart could abandon the idea of a midfield general and opt for a 4-3-3 system with three conventional midfield players and two wingers alongside a centre forward, who is again likely to be Cardiff City forward, Jones.