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Santos edges Connection; Pro League outfit misses out on Mexican scalp

“Before, when we were playing against a Mexican team, we were happy to lose 1-0,” said DIRECTV W Connection coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier. “Now, we are very angry…”

Photo: W Connection's Aikim Andrews (centre) tries to find way past a gang of Santos Laguna players during yesterday's CONCACAF Champions League action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection’s Aikim Andrews (centre) tries to find way past a gang of Santos Laguna players during yesterday’s CONCACAF Champions League action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Connection bowed out of the CONCACAF Champions League competition last night. Beaten but not disgraced after a 1-0 defeat to former Mexico champions, Santos Laguna, at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.

“They scored a scrimmage goal very early,” said Fevrier, “and never got a single chance after.

“We had about five chances to score and were very wasteful.”

Remarkably, Fevrier’s assertion that the “Savonetta Boys” troubled a Mexican team that operates in a different financial stratosphere was fairly accurate.

Santos goalkeeper Agustín Marchesín has two senior international caps for Argentina while he and compatriots Diego Gonzales and Carlos Izquierdoz all have 100 appearances or more in Argentina’s top flight competition, despite still being in their 20s.

Santos number 10, Bryan Rabello, wore Chilean colours at every international level possible and was capped by respected Spanish top flight club, Sevilla, while left back Adrian Aldrete and striker Javier Orozco represented Mexico at the 2015 Copa America and 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup respectively.

Photo: W Connection attacker Dimitrie Apai (right) tries to find a way past giant Santos Laguna defender Nestor Araujo during CONCACAF Champions League action last night. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection attacker Dimitrie Apai (right) tries to find a way past giant Santos Laguna defender Nestor Araujo during CONCACAF Champions League action last night.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Pako Ayestaran, Santos’ new Spanish coach, was relieved to have three points but admitted the game did not go as planned.

“We cannot be pleased with the way we played,” said Ayestaran, who was assistant manager to current Real Madrid boss Rafa Benitez during the latter’s spells at Valencia and Liverpool. “We wanted to be dominant on the ball but we couldn’t because (Connection) was very aggressive and pressed well…

“It was difficult to play in the middle of the park and we didn’t close down well enough.”

Of course, there was little hint of the battle that would ensue when Santos went ahead after one minute and 27 seconds.

The Connection defence failed to deal with an inswinging Luis Mendoza corner kick and Andres Renteria slapped home on the second attempt.

Only sharp saves from Connection custodian Julani Archibald kept Santos from doubling the lead through strikes from outside the penalty area by Renteria and Gonzales respectively.

Photo: W Connection defender Tristan Hodge (left) keeps an eye on Santos Laguna winger Andres Renteria  while coach Pako Ayestaran (right) looks on during CONCACAF Champions League action last night. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection defender Tristan Hodge (left) keeps an eye on Santos Laguna winger Andres Renteria while coach Pako Ayestaran (right) looks on during CONCACAF Champions League action last night.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

On the touchline, Ayestaran was shadowing every play. Yesterday was his fifth game in charge at Santos and he lost three of his previous four outings.

Connection, with nothing but pride to play for and missing suspended midfielders Gerard Williams and Jomal Williams, did not give Ayestaran or Santos a comfortable evening.

In the 26th minute, Fevrier’s men had the first clear chance to pull level as teenaged Connection utility player Aikim Andrews played a clever diagonal pass into the path of winger Dimitrie Apai. But the Surinamese international was denied by Marchesín’s right leg.

Suitably inspired, Connection pressed higher and higher up the field.

Shahdon Winchester, who started behind debutante centre forward and ex-Central FC employee Dwight Quintero, gave an accomplished performance with good hold-up play and impeccable passing.

Photo: W Connection attacker Shahdon Winchester (right) evades a tackle from Santos Laguna defender Jesus Molina during CONCACAF Champions League action last night. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection attacker Shahdon Winchester (right) evades a tackle from Santos Laguna defender Jesus Molina during CONCACAF Champions League action last night.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

At the back, Tristan Hodge, who played at left back last season, again did himself justice in central defence while Connection attacked with gusto and ingenuity down either flank.

There was no doubting the technique and physical strength of the likes of Renteria, Gonzales, striker Edison Rivera and towering midfield enforcer Sergio Ceballo. But Connection was quicker and, arguably, more positive.

In the 52nd minute, Fevrier changed the look of his offence by replacing the direct Quintero with the more subtle Andre Toussaint and, like against Deportivo Saprissa last week, Connection immediately became more dangerous.

Just four minutes after his introduction, Toussaint released Kurt Frederick down the left flank and his low cross found its way to Apai at the far post. With the goal at his mercy, Apai chose to pass responsibility to Winchester instead and the latter’s shot was charged down by Aldrete.

In the 57th minute, Andrews broke clear down the same wing and, this time, it was Winchester who got on the end of the cross and teed up Apai. The resulting shot beat Marchesín but not a retreating defender.

Photo: Santos Laguna goalkeeper Agustin Marchesin uses his right leg to block a shot from W Connection attacker Dimitrie Apai during CONCACAF Champions League action. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Santos Laguna goalkeeper Agustin Marchesin uses his right leg to block a shot from W Connection attacker Dimitrie Apai during CONCACAF Champions League action.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Apai completed a hattrick of misses in the 61st minute as his flicked header from another Andrews cross missed the far post.

Ayestaran responded by summoning firepower from the bench including Cape Verde striker Djaniny, who scored twice against Connection in the first leg, and Mexico international Orozco, whose second half cameo helped “El Tricolour” past Jamaica in the 2015 Gold Cup final.

But, although stretched at times, Connection was not breached again.

Ayestaran complimented Connection in the post-game press conference. And Fevrier agreed with his assessment.

“I think we have closed the gap on the top clubs in the (CONCACAF) region,” said Fevrier. “If you don’t just look at the results and look at the games, we have been able to match our opponents and we were always in the game…

“I hope people now have a little more respect for the league.”

Photo: W Connection captain Alvin Jones (right) tackles Santos Laguna forward Edison Rivera while referee Baldomero Toledo looks on. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection captain Alvin Jones (right) tackles Santos Laguna forward Edison Rivera while referee Baldomero Toledo looks on.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

But why did Connection take so long to show up in the competition? The Savonetta Boys, after all, conceded eight goals from their opening two Champions League outings.

The Pro League’s schedule, which means local clubs are still in pre-season mode when they face the best clubs in the confederation, has often been criticised as unhelpful.

However, Fevrier admitted that some of their problems were self-inflicted.

“We lost a lot of players we didn’t expect to lose,” said Fevrier, “and we had problems keeping the squad together…

“We still haven’t completed our squad (for the upcoming season).”

Central FC, the Pro League’s other representative at CONCACAF level, has also had its off-field issues in recent months.

Photo: Santos Laguna defenders Kristian Alvarez (centre) and Javier Abella (left) gesture at W Connection attacker Shahdon Winchester (right) while referee Baldomero Toledo looks on during CONCACAF Champions League action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain.
Photo: Santos Laguna defenders Kristian Alvarez (centre) and Javier Abella (left) gesture at W Connection attacker Shahdon Winchester (right) while referee Baldomero Toledo looks on during CONCACAF Champions League action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain.

The “Couva Sharks” close off their own Champions League campaign from 8 pm tonight against a weakened LA Galaxy team, which travelled to Trinidad with just 16 players exclusive of former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, ex-Tottenham star Robbie Keane and current Mexico stand-out Giovani Dos Santos.

Central would do well to address Galaxy coach Bruce Arena’s slight on the playing field.

(Teams)

W Connection (4-2-3-1): 18.Julani Archibald (GK); 21.Shannon Gomez, 4.Maurice Ford, 5.Tristan Hodge, 2.Kurt Frederick; 16.Alvin Jones (captain), 26.Briel Thomas; 17.Aikim Andrews (11.Neil Benjamin Jr 72), 9.Shahdon Winchester (27.Jhonatan Gerhardt 79), 12.Dimitrie Apai; 19.Dwight Quintero (14.Andre Toussaint 52).

Unused substitutes: 1.Terrence Lewis (GK), 13.Kion Joseph, 35.Keston Julien, 48.Stiven Lopez.

Coach: Stuart Charles-Fevrier

 

Santos Laguna (4-2-3-1): 1.Agustin Marchesin (GK); 2.Javier Abella, 3.Kristian Alvarez, 14.Nestor Araujo, 16.Adrian Aldrete; 6.Sergio Ceballos (4.Jesus Molina 65), 8.Diego Gonzales; 7.Andres Renteria, 10.Bryan Rabello, 9.Luis Mendoza (21.Djaniny Tavares 65); 18.Edison Rivera (27.Javier Orozco 81).

Unused substitutes: 32.Julio Gonzales (GK), 24.Carlos Izquierdoz, 87.Oscar Bernal, 96.Kenyi Adachi.

Coach: Pako Ayestaran

 

Referee: Baldomero Toledo (United States)

Man of the Match: Shahdon Winchester (W Connection)

Photo: W Connection right back Shannon Gomez (left) tries to keep up with Santos Laguna winger Andres Renteria during CONCACAF Champions League action yesterday at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection right back Shannon Gomez (left) tries to keep up with Santos Laguna winger Andres Renteria during CONCACAF Champions League action yesterday at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

CONCACAF Champions League result

(Tuesday September 22)

Santos Laguna 1 (Andres Renteria 2), W Connection 0 at Hasely Crawford Stadium;

 

Today’s Champions League fixture

(Wednesday September 23)

Central FC v LA Galaxy, 8 pm, Hasely Crawford Stadium.

AboutLasana 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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41 comments

  1. I could only hope for sustenance and longevity of effort and results.

  2. The culture here is very selfish. It’s all about what’s in it for me. If we take ourselves out of the equation and ask how can we make Trinidad and Tobago football better we would see a different approach to the support for football. English supporters believe that their team cannot win without the fan’s support. Support makes winning possible. That’s a completely different mindset from us trinis.

  3. Where James Saunders wanna do a focus group?

  4. I am Kirwin Weston inbox me ur info.

  5. We can discuss it more Kirwin. You make some good points. But the quality bit matters most because we want entertainment.
    Most Pro League teams would easily beat league two teams with a week to prepare.
    And the top pro league teams could beat league one teams as well.
    So it just isn’t true to say that the clubs in those divisions get bigger crowds because their standard is better.
    If you watch a game in Britain, you won’t hear anything from the field after the opening whistle because the crowd is roaring on its team all the way.
    Here the crowd reacts to what it considers to be entertaining. Might be a dribble or a shot on goal or something. It is chalk and cheese.

  6. Lol. I’m always up for a challenge. Hit me up if you serious !

  7. Kirwin Weston you want to be in my focus group? ?

  8. Stakeholders of football in Trinidad need to provide a way to create emotional connections between football and citizens that goes beyond participation which is what we have. The best short-term way is through youth academies but that will only go so far. I keep stating that for football and by extension sport to rise in this country it requires a cultural change at all levels. And that ain’t easy to achieve by any means, nor will it happen anytime soon.

  9. Lasana, I’m young (relatively), and I remember watching football with my father around 1997 somewhere there. I love the game. I’m almost certain that I’ve watched more ProLeague games in this country than anyone else (unless they have a direct responsibility/connect with the club, player, or League). And I am telling you, I moved from watching a double header to struggling to watch some Knockout finals down here. The standard has to improve if we want to attract supporters and not only in terms of playing.

  10. Essentially what I’m saying is that for anyone to support anything die hard, firstly their must be an emotional connection. Secondly, the quality of the product has to be good or of sufficient standard to support it. The die-hards are die-hards hence ProLeague games may have 10-20 people per game who come to see football if so much Lasana Liburd. However, if we hope to see more supporters @ our games, as of now the quality has to ante up. Then the games will draw supporters who 1) Have an emotional connect to the ProLeague and a team 2) Genuinely want to see football. Very few people in Trinidad have emotional connection to a club, you’ll find them more at school level.

  11. Yuh still ain’t catch meh drift baite. Will have to inbox you.

  12. I always remember early on when I got tickets for Manchester United versus Portsmouth. Cristiano Ronaldo actually scored his first goal for Manchester in that midweek game.
    I proudly told my cousin-in-law that I had tickets and he could come watch the game with me. And he said he had to check Coventry’s schedule first.
    Coventry was in relegation trouble in the Championship Division and I guarantee you that they had nobody like Ronaldo in their line-up.
    Football fans in other part of the world do not go to games for entertainment.
    Italian fans say if you want entertainment go to the cinema.

  13. I am not talking about scale Kirwin Weston. Some towns in Britain that have football clubs have smaller catchment areas than a team like Central.
    And some people who live within a 10 minute bus ride of Tottenham might support Charlton.
    I lived in Britain for almost three years and I covered football for a living. Every division in England and Scotland and some of Wales and I interviewed many football fans from all regions.
    I know football there about as well as I do Trinidad.

  14. Yes Lasana I catch your drift but catch mine. That emotional bond between club and football was already there and maybe handed down from generation to generation for whatever reason, kind of like indoctrination. Plus their scale is bigger, you just cannot compare us and they. Not everyone can support Manu in England because physical factors doesn’t permit, not because they don’t want to. Their (football countries) culture emphasizes it to a large extent and a lot of pride attached. Our culture totally different where oil, gas, corruption, Carnival and rum is priority. Sport doesn’t rank high up there or prioritized despite the successes and number of participants we have locally.

  15. Focus group perhaps? This is such a relevant topic for the league stakeholders…yall just gave me something to work on. Gracias!

  16. There are towns with small catchment areas and crap teams that get bigger crowds Kirwin Weston. And the game experience ent much of a lime much of the time.
    My cousin-in-law was a die-hard Coventry fan so I know of which I speak. Sure the drink before the game would be fun for him.
    But he knew it was pain and anguish from the moment he walked through the gate.
    This ent Trini Posse fans who dancing even if we are 10 for 8.

  17. Also, it may very well be a lime for some of those 20,000 supporters. Difference is they’ve been cultured stakeholders and have emotion attached to the club. Plus too, they grew up with football/sports to a standard where average for them is maybe professional in T&T. But still the comparison can’t work because of the difference in population, land size, revenues etc.

  18. Well, once we agree that we are not talking about supporters in the real sense, then sure. I agree.

  19. And yes, higher quality football will attract more supporters of the game locally. Let’s be real. I have gone to games and tried to bring along others. Many times I hear, “Weston boy, you really like football to watch that week in week out. Them men can’t trap a ball or score a goal good”. The comparison third division clubs, number of supporters, and quality of football not very applicable here Lasana

  20. I agree with you in that people here don’t really support sport. It is about entertainment or being around “winners” here.
    None of this would be news to Renee or anyone involved in sport for years though. The sport industry needed help all over the world during its formative years. It is the same here.
    I often feel people expect too much from sport administrators. And this is from someone who is first to criticise when they err.

  21. No Lasana I am not trying to create a lime avenue. I’m saying that people just don’t genuinely support football as we may think down here unless it’s a lime, some sort of tangible reward is up for grabs, it’s an occasion, or if you have a direct vested interest in the team or sport. Supporters of the sport is (in my opinion) low. Participants are high, but doesn’t translate as we can see.

  22. Kirwin Weston, supporters all around the world do not back their teams to see quality football. There are third division teams that get 20,000 spectators. If that was the case, fans would be jumping ship all the time.
    So you are really looking to create a lime avenue. Fine.
    If so, forget Hasely Crawford. Can’t compete with the Avenue and Movie Towne and all the other night spots.
    You have to be very clear about what you’re offering and who you’re trying to attract.
    It certainly ent die hard football fans.

  23. I agree, but then we would just have a super league or a minor league…can’t call ourselves professionals and keep the standards at that level…community stadia that moderate crowds won’t “lose” in that are easily accessible has been on the tongues of many for years…it would make a difference…

  24. I honestly do not believe john public can conceptualize football with some sort of structure . We want to stand beside the ground give picong, drink a beer, ole talk etc. Plus, we want it 5 minutes away from home.

  25. Free drinks Friday’s at the stadium will attract some patrons Lasana. People want excitement and high quality football. I don’t think the ProLeague provides that outlet. In addition, a properly functioning national team with players who consistently make national teams from the ProLeague team may (MAY) draw a few more spectators. If our national team gets more friendlies and local players get exposure, maybe the quality of the league will increase; gradually but eventually.

  26. I don’t think the problem is marketing either…people just don’t come out to the games for whatever their reasons may be and for reasons I won’t mention in the social media realm…true diehard football fans of the teams do…I think that there’s a lot to be done to regenerate interest in the league so that we can get back the crowds of ’99…guaracara park and Gilbert park always had a great fan turnout…same for when north east was playing in their community…Mannie is perfectly located so that we have that balance of community and facility…sigh…

  27. Renee John-Williams, if the key is marketing then it won’t matter too much who is playing.
    I don’t believe it is. I think there are a lot of factors and I doubt think that Galaxy crowd had as much to do with marketing as James Saunders thinks…
    But only one way to know for sure!
    We can petition for funds to give James a test. If he succeeds, then he is officially local football’s marketing guru. ????

  28. Lol Lasana Liburd and James James Saunders if every game we played was a galaxy or an MLS teams crowds would be guaranteed. Fans came with the expectation of seeing the marquee players as well as the fact that they’re a popular and MLS team…as you mentioned…Kansas City Wizards Game…phenomenal atmosphere…Red Bulls Game…large crowd as well…

    We, as well as Cali and Central utilize social media heavily which is generating interest in that realm…we now look for the Conversion at the gates…facilities and match times also play a key role…playing in Mannie always gets a better crowd. I agree that many teams don’t have the know how and creativity, but they also don’t have the budget…one full page ad can run you $6000 in one paper and about 9000 in another…who making that at gates? Radio ads is another thing and let’s not get into TV…

    James you don’t wanna provide some free consults? ?

  29. Hahaha. Renee John-Williams, just call James Saunders and give him a budget nah. He says fans are guaranteed. So I will pass around a budget to see if he could repeat the “marketing trick” of that Galaxy crowd! 🙂

  30. I hear your point Renee John-Williams and i agree fully and understand the situation from an inside perspective, however i believe that many if not most clubs are way behind the ball when it comes to marketing and its not necessarily because of a lack of effort but rather a lack of know how and creativity, the local game and local fans are a hard sell that’s why clubs have to focus on the operational aspect and invite marketing professionals to do there thing. Just my two cents

  31. It would be nice to know exactly what local fans are looking for. Apart from coming out to see a team only because it is on the verge of success.

  32. Support comes from the fans and their interest in seeing local teams compete in the highest club competition in our region…

  33. Joey Richardson I don’t think the general public has any clue as to the costs incurred by the clubs, especially the local clubs when competing in tournaments such as the champions league…when hosting your home games clubs have ‘bust’ before even hitting the field inclusive of proper marketing….press radio social media etc… What’s makes it even more challenging is playing in a 28000 seater facility that’s not your home ground, and not by choice…

  34. OK, if he meant it like that then I agree that they got better as the group stage went on. I know they’re young and they’ve had to adjust to losing Britto, Williams, Cyrus, J. Jones, and H. Arcia et al.

  35. I think those previous Connection team had more experience in its ranks though. This is a really young side.
    I thought he meant closed the gap in terms of their earlier performances this season though.

  36. I don’t agree with Fevrier that we have closed the gap with the other CONCACAF clubs. I have seen W-Connection put up much better performances in the past. We have always been able to nick a victory here and there, but consistency is the key, as well as being able to get out of the group stage.

  37. again W CONNECRION throw their chances to score played well again but finishing was very poor they held their own a draw would have been a better reflection of the game that they could have won with better finishing and better final passes but omg no support who doing the marketing like we have to play these games in ATO BOLDEN for fans to come out CENTRAL FC to same shit no support same tonight im not going LA GALAXY leave home all their stars to beat us still

  38. I only saw the second half so I missed the Santos goal.
    But second half, I thought we had some really good build ups just everybody seemed to lack confidence to shoot and so there was a lot more passing in the box than seemed necessary.
    Nevertheless, while it’s good to be disappointed with loss, I don’t know that they need to be “very angry” with themselves. They’ve shown great improvement over the course of one tournament. So lots to be proud and excited about. ?

  39. We’re getting closer too. Good!