The Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team’s Rio 2016 Olympic chase ended, predictably, at the CONCACAF semifinal stage last night, as they were crushed 5-0 by hosts and FIFA World Cup champions, the United States, at the BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.
The result meant that CONCACAF’s two women’s superpowers, the United States and Canada, both scooped up the Olympic spots at stake and will compete in Sunday’s final at the same venue.
For the “Women Soca Warriors”, it was an anticlimactic but not unexpected end to their Olympic campaign.
“Obviously it was a very difficult game for us playing against the world champions,” said Trinidad and Tobago head coach Richard Hood, in the post-game press conference. “They are a fantastic team. They are very physical, good movement off the ball and we were not able to cope with it as (well) as we would have liked.”
Their humbling 6-0 loss to Canada in the group stages suggested that the Women Warriors still have a long way to go before they can face CONCACAF’s top North American nations with any confidence of getting a result.
And they could not prevent a similar hiding last night against the world’s best female team.
“The US (are) the number one team in the world for a reason,” captain Maylee Attin-Johnson told the TTFA Media. “We have a long way to actually go to be able to compete at this level on a consistent basis.”
Like against Canada, Hood opted for a more conservative line-up, as Victoria Swift and Danielle Blair were recalled as midfield anchor and right back respectively with utility player Khadidra Debesette switching from full back to central midfield.
Tasha St Louis, primarily an attacking midfielder, was used as the lone forward.
But the tactical adjustments barely troubled the hosts, who bossed the game throughout and were able to create numerous opportunities from wide and central areas.
At the end of the first half, the United States had a whopping 74 percent possession to 26, eight shots to zero and led by three goals to none.
The pressure never really eased up and, by the final whistle, the United States only dipped slightly to 71 percent ball possession while there were 27 attempted shots to two.
Trinidad and Tobago did not manage a single shot on target.
A year and a half ago, the Women Warriors frustrated the US in the opening CONCACAF Championship match before succumbing to a narrow 1-0 loss, although they spent most of the 90 minutes in their own half.
Since then, the US have become World Cup champions while the Women Warriors had five different coaches, Randy Waldrum, Ross Russell, Anthony Creece, Kendall Walkes and Hood, and entered the tournament unfit, without international match practice and just two days training with their full squad.
Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John Williams said, soon after assuming office last month, that the Women Warriors were his first priority.
Apart from an immediate and chaotic tour to Brazil, there has been sign of the calculated planning necessary to improve the team so far. Although it was never going to be enough against as formidable an opponent as the United States in such a relatively short space of time.
Attin-Johnson pointed out that, as a result, they were not as organised on the field as at their last CONCACAF competition. Even though, once more, it was enough for a top four finish.
Hood said the Women Warriors are heading in the right direction.
“I believe that they have improved in all aspects of play with the possible exception of possession,” Hood told Wired868. “We have done a lot of work on organising team shape in build up and defence (particularly with regards to) how and where to press the ball. But we have struggled with mobility and speed of play.”
The hosts wasted little time in drawing first blood as Tobin Heath put them ahead in the 12th minute, after a left side cross from Mallory Pugh found the Trinidad and Tobago backline in disarray.
Carli Lloyd, the FIFA World Player of the Year and US captain, headed an effort against the post from a corner kick in the 22nd minute before Pugh created the second, as she cushioned a Kelley O Hara cross into the path of Alex Morgan for a close range finish.
Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Kimika Forbes, who made a flurry of fine saves in the first half, will not like to remember the third goal, as she failed to gather a Lloyd header off another corner kick, which went straight through her legs.
The Women Warriors just could not keep the ball and they mustered just 85 completed passes whole night compared to 341 from the US.
“We do everything too slowly with the ball and against quality opposition we will be found wanting,” said Hood. “On defence, we are reactive. We have issues reading the intent of the opponent.
“And, against a top opponent such as the USA, you are going to struggle with such deficiencies.”
Morgan completed her treble in the second half with two more close range finishes to close off the score summary at 5-0.
The overworked Forbes said the Trinidad and Tobago team gave it their all.
“This is my best performance for the tournament,” said Forbes. “I came out mentally ready for it. It was unfortunate with the third goal. The field was wet and my technique was off so the ball passed through my legs.
“I am impressed with my team, the hard work and effort. We’ve always had that determination to fight but unfortunately it didn’t go in our favour tonight.”
Attin-Johnson also credited the team’s application although she conceded that they let in some soft goals and the officials might have been lenient to the hosts on at least two items, where there was a hint of offside.
“It’s never easy playing the number one team in the world but I am very proud of the girls as we gave it our all,” said the National Team captain. “For us, we went out on to the field with full confidence. We did well for twenty-something minutes but then we allowed a couple easy goals.
“We stayed compact and organised for the most part but to compete against the US is a tall order. We didn’t get the result we wanted but most importantly, we left everything out there on the field.”
The Trinidad and Tobago team return to Port of Spain at 8.30 pm tonight on United Airlines.
Hood hopes that the TTFA immediately turn their attention towards rebuilding for the 2019 World Cup while he thinks the Women Warriors’ semifinal finish should be enough to lure sponsors.
“We should be looking at targeting qualification for the next World Cup,” said Hood. “I am optimistic. I think these girls have done us proud. They have worked hard and they showed their capabilities at this level, particularly given the lack of preparation.
“I am hoping that with this performance, we can get the kind of support and funding to propel women’s football.”
Trinidad and Tobago (4-1-4-1): 1.Kimika Forbes (GK); 4.Danielle Blair, 14.Karyn Forbes, 5.Arin King, 2.Jenelle Cunningham; 8.Victoria Swift (11.Janine Francois 68); 12.Ahkeela Mollon, 6.Khadidra Debesette, 9.Maylee Attin-Johnson (captain), 19.Kennya Cordner; 10.Tasha St Louis (3.Mariah Shade 72).
Unused substitutes: 18.Shalette Alexander (GK), 20.Saundra Baron (GK), 7.Kayla Taylor, 13.Naomi Guerra, 15.Liana Hinds, 16.Jo Marie Lewis, 17.Anastasia Prescott.
Coach: Richard Hood
United States: 1.Hope Solo (GK); 5.Kelley O’Hara, 8.Julie Johnston, 4.Becky Sauerbrunn, 7.Meghan Klingenberg; 14.Morgan Brian, 9.Lindsey Horan (3.Samantha Mewis, 60’), 17.Tobin Heath, 10.Carli Lloyd (captain) (16.Crystal Dunn 66), 2.Mallory Pugh (12.Christen Press 59); 13.Alex Morgan.
Unused substitutes: 18.Ashlyn Harris (GK), 20.Alyssa Naeher (GK), 6.Emily Sonnett, 11.Ali Krieger, 15.Stephanie McCaffrey, 19.Jaelene Hinkle.
Coach: Jill Ellis
Referee: Tatiana Guzman (Nicaragua)
Pleased to see that our Women qualified for the semi finals, the women’s performance was reasonable considering the preparation. Postmortem thoughts:
1. Year round fitness is the responsibility of each player at this level. Though athletic we lacked TEAM endurance, stability, strength, quickness and flexibility.
2. Connected to the fitness, I question the year round nutritional discipline or program being used.
1. Having taken on a team with a short window for preparation why change the formation? Psychologically, your players had been through enough. In 4 games you gave up 13 goals. The Canada game should have been a tactical warning, the Guatemala game an eye opener.
2. During multiple interviews negative comments about team especially mental toughness. This maybe reverse psychology often practice in our culture but rarely effective. Again knowing the change of coach, TTFA administration and poor preparation why go negative? I do not want to be too critical because the TTFA should prepare him on how to message properly.
3. After these women played their heart out for you, you come out and say we have to rebuild the team. Does that earn loyalty, dedication and commitment? Are you the coach showing leadership or throwing them under the bus? Why even mention rebuilding? All teams are in a constant process of building and rebuilding, if you are not then you have no player development programs or no youth pushing up. This statement to me was useless.
That said, kudos to the players for the effort, kudos for the coach thrown into the situation. The new board have yet to show us their value, at present they have underwhelmed. Still hoping for the best in the land of hope.
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Mr Pierre is big men yuh conversing with eh, stop insulting our intelligence, yuh have something to say, say it, not liking or agreeing with what u say does not mean we wont RESPECT it
T&T Princesses still very weak not formidable enough. nice try though.:)
Hate to bring this up but is this a legacy of the Jack Warner era. Just asking BTW where is he these days? I see that Blazer is bedridden and cannot speak has a tube down his throat and communicates by keyboard the FBI still is waiting for him to testify, his sentencing has been postponed because they want him to testify!
So u all know that National Cricket has a high performance centre, located at the National Cricket centre in Couva, have we asked ourselves how come a Trinidad cricket team with virtual unknowns can step up to the plate and whip everybodys butt good and proper in the Nagico Super 50, they have a year round programme and a 8,000 plus stipend per player, I say again
Do we have to resign ourselves to the fact that we will never have a government and people in sporting organizations who can sit together and develop a program for our various sports? It is not rocket science. There are many templates in successful sporting countries that can guide the process.
With the vision and with the appointment of people of integrity with the willIngness to SERVE it can be done. If we continue to do the same things we will get the same results.
It ‘s not about templates. It’s about the people we elect/appoint to manage our affairs. In the third world, mediocrity is acceptable so accountability takes a back seat. In developed countries the only measure of success is winning. When your team is playing badly, fans howl and cry for the head of the coach or to replace the team. In our neck of the woods, you can replace a coach who transformed a team, replace hin with someone who admits he is unfamiliar with his team and when his team fails, he preaches rebuilding. No accountability. He and his association bear no responsibility. It was the fault of the players. Rebuild.
Gerard Johnson, your point is well taken but only from the 3rd sentence onward because templates, as Bruce Aanensen posited, simplifies the change/improvement process for us 10,000 fold.
Kenneth H. Ransome Jr. I didn’t mean templates weren’t important. I was trying to make the point that without the right people in place, templates become immaterial because they will not be applied.
..the TNT women were obviously outclassed by a far superior US team..but kudos for reaching the semi final stage ..the US ball possession in the game was over 70% ..this was a huge factor …and shows how difficult it was for TNT to muster any chances to score…
The lessons of all our teams over the years should have been learnt by now by our football administrators. The writing was on the wall from the Canadian spanking. I agree with coach Hood in his interview following the game, in order to seriously compete at the international level our players must of necessity have constant international exposure particularly at the professional. I hope he also understands that the same applies to our coaches, a good track record in domestic competitions (which are not on par or even near to international standards), is simply not good enough nor translates into success at international level.
I thiniking i will reserve my opinion still!!! Will lose too much friends!!! Will just say tt need to assess where we are in terms of sports!!!
Steups. You always finding a new excuse not to talk yes.
Simply not prepared for this level of football. Never should we consider what we witnessed during this entire Olympic qualifying semi-final tournament to be doing our best. Failure was inevitable because we failed to prepare. T&T football leadership, management, funding, and coaching remain deplorable. Until we fix that be prepared to fail again, and again, and again…
We certainly aren’t going to get where want by rolling out of bed, a month or two before a tournament, and saying “Please God.” That one I’m sure about. 🙂
USA is a formidable team and so are The Warrior Princesses
..Costa Rica, in particular, is a well-resourced federation. AND they are both more serious in their ambitions than we are. That is why the former have surpassed our women and the latter are closing in. I won’t even talk about the Costa Rican men..
Costa Rica beat Italy in the last world cup, and it wasnt a fluke, their development has been on a constant upward spiral
Seems like every time we go forward, we take two steps back. Finance is a big issue, but surely we are better off than Guatemala and Costa Rica? Are we without the will and the organization to move our sport forward??
..And Guatemalan women’s football..
What’s your thoughts on Colombia ?
..They are getting better and better..
Our girls like many other national teams were not prepared, and on the other hand the US and Canada girls never stop training, i hope we are keeping a close eye on Costa Rican overall football development
At least they got to semi final. Well better luck next time. Just work a little harder and all would be alright
Well done, whole hearted effort, fought hard and played hard for the Shirt and our Country, blessings to you Soca Princesses !
Lasana Liburd, the commentary I had lamented over the previous coach not being kept. They said the previous coach had T&T women playing much better and the US team was surprised how they regress. Your thoughts ?
I think Randy Waldrum’s team was pretty solid in terms of defence and probably more cohesive too. But then he had three months with the team while Richard Hood had about three weeks. So it isn’t easy to make comparisons.
Waldrum’s team wasn’t very good on the ball though.
We defended well and depended on mostly set pieces to score. Otherwise, it was just about what Kennya Cordner or Ahkeela Mollon could pull out of the hat I thought.
This team lacked defenders no rhea,russell, Hutchinson
That’s true. They were missing players as well. The dynamics would have been totally different if Rhea Belgrave was there. She would played in central defence and allowed Karyn Forbes to play in the midfield where she can be a weapon with her delivery and shooting.
Or Belgrave might have played at right back and let Khadidra play higher.
Only arin was a normal starter there
Yeah. But Danielle Blair and Janelle Cunningham are good additions who just need experience. And Khadidra was always gonna take someone’s spot sooner or later.
But the others would have made the squad more competitive. Even if they didn’t necessarily start.
Not sure if Hutchinson is mobile enough to be a full back for Hood. She might have to change positions.
With the limited options at defense plus starting 3 strikers
I think it’s a while I saw a coach gamble so much
Lasana Liburd It’s called tactics. You develop a game plan based on the talent you have and the opposition you are playing. Randy did not have the team for three months straight. He had the same problems people complained about. He had to coach his own team and he had to get the players together. He did have longer than the present coach which goes back to the stupidity of the TTFA replacing Waldrum at that particular time. Additionally Randy tried within the time he had to tranform a kick ball team into a possession team. And as anyone who knows anything about soccer, a team returns to its original style when pressured.
This is a land of hope! (To be kind)
Yeah! The “glory” is still a long way off.
Always within sight… If only we can start the journey to get there!
Well Tim kee eh dey again,so maybe something will come together…
” Hopes to build eh!” How about “Will build.”
..No surprise. Unprepared vs world champion. C’mon. No chance..
“Bow Out” is pretty kind. This feels more like deportation :'(
With no chance for a deportation hearing or appeal, just packed up and put on the Caribbean Airlines flight back to Trinidad!
I guess “our best” was not good enough! I can hear the haters blaming it on the PNM minister of Sport now!
Congratulations and thx for effort made!