The Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team momentarily stunned Montevideo tonight, as 22 year old midfielder Jomal Williams conjured up the opening item away to the two-time World Cup champions.
But, in the end, the “Soca Warriors” could not match Uruguay, as FIFA’s ninth best ranked nation eased away to a 3-1 win in their capital city.
Trinidad and Tobago’s goal aggregate in South America reads seven goals conceded with one scored and successive defeats to Peru and Uruguay. But it could easily have been worse.
The Warriors were never in the game against Peru on Monday, as reflected by the eventual 4-0 scoreline. It was not the best way to warm up for a clash with a team that, even without the injured Luis Suarez, still possessed a striker with the quality of Edinson Cavani.
The combined goal tally of Trinidad and Tobago’s entire starting team was 10. Cavani had 30 international goals before kick off.
There was another more worrying statistic for the visiting team. Altogether, coach Stephen Hart’s starting team had managed 253 international caps to go with those 10 goals. In contrast, Uruguay’s battle hardened outfit had 457 caps between them with 46 items.
But the first blow was struck by youthful enthusiasm. And it was made in W Connection.
Just seven minutes into the contest, Shahdon Winchester collected the ball deep in enemy territory and crafty slipped it between the legs of an opposing defender for his club teammate, Williams, to run on and smoothly dispatch his strike to the left of Uruguay goalkeeper Martin Silva.
It was Williams’ first international goal and just his second start and fourth cap overall. Although it was not quite a strike from the blue. The skilful attacking midfielder has scored 20 goals in all competitions for his club this season. It was a welcome statement for the Pro League.
Nor was it an isolated moment from either player. Winchester, who debuted for the Warriors as an 18 year old under Russell Latapy but made just nine appearances with one goal since then, offered noticeably better hold up play upfront for Trinidad and Tobago.
And Williams showed flashes of the dribbling skills which have earned him much respect on the local circuit.
Uruguay were always likely to have the last word though.
The visitors held on for 18 minutes until defender Weslie John tripped Uruguay midfielder Nicholas Lodeiro in the penalty area and Cavani stepped up to drive a rocket past Warriors custodian Marvin Phillip and into the roof of the net.
Trinidad and Tobago then suffered a touch of misfortune in the 37th minute as left back Triston Hodge needed lengthy treatment after opposing midfielder Carlos Sanchez inadvertently stamped on his hand.
The Warriors were temporarily down to 10 men and might have momentarily switched off when Uruguay scored from the resulting corner kick. The replay would make painful viewing for the Trinidad and Tobago defence and, predictably, Cavani benefited with a simple tap in.
Stand-in Trinidad and Tobago captain almost managed an equaliser, seconds before the halftime interval, but was denied by a stretching Silva, after good build-up play by Williams and Winchester.
And substitute Leston Paul, who mustered two goals all season for Central FC, again failed to show much appetite for the spotlight as he wasted a clear shooting chance in the 84th minute.
By then, Uruguay were already 3-1 up after a simple finish by Matias Vecino past exposed Trinidad and Tobago substitute goalkeeper Adrian Foncette in the 52nd minute.
There could easily have been a fourth, as Gaston Ramirez spanking a sizzling left footed volley off the top of the bar in the 82nd minute.
But Trinidad and Tobago, who were anchored well by Hyland and Andre Boucaud in central midfield, earned their luck. And Hart could not have been displeased with decent cameos from not only Winchester, Williams and Hodge but also newcomers John, San Juan Jabloteh winger Nathan Lewis and Central substitute defender Andre Ettienne.
The Warriors will return home for a brief respite before travelling to Qin Huang Dao next to face host nation, China, on June 3. And, although Cyrus and Lewis shook off injury concerns to face Uruguay, Hart will not have Carlyle Mitchell as a reinforcement in Asia, as the Republic of Korea-based defender was forced to withdraw due to club commitments.
If Hodge, Cyrus and Yohance Marshall are fit for that trip, the Warriors suggested tonight that they can cope.
Trinidad and Tobago (4-2-3-1): 1.Marvin Phillip (GK) (22.Adrian Foncette 46); 5.Daneil Cyrus, 17.Weslie John, 2.Aubrey David, 3.Triston Hodge (4.Andre Ettienne 40); 8.Khaleem Hyland (captain), 14.Andre Boucaud (13.Leston Paul 72); 17.Nathan Lewis (19.Curtis Gonzales 65), 23.Jomal Williams, 16.Levi Garcia (9.Marcus Joseph 88); 10.Shahdon Winchester (20.Makesi Lewis 75).
Unused substitutes: 11.Willis Plaza, 12.Sean De Silva, 25.Alvin Jones.
Injured: Yohance Marshall, Hughtun Hector.
Suspended: Radanfah Abu Bakr.
Uruguay (4-2-3-1): 23.Martin Silva (GK) (12.Martin Campagna 80); 16.Maxi Pereira (captain) (4.Jorge Fucile 70), 19.Gaston Silva, 13.Mauricio Victorino, 6.Alvaro Pereira; 5.Carlos Sanchez (10.Gaston Ramirez 46), 17.Egidio Arevalo Rios (20.Alvaro Gonzales 60); 15.Matias Vecino, 22.Diego Rolon, 14.Nicolas Lodeiro (18.Mathias Corujo 46); 21.Edinson Cavani (11.Cristhian Stuani 46).
Coach: Oscar Tabarez
(Friday May 27)
Trinidad and Tobago 1 (Jomal Williams 7), Uruguay 3 (Edinson Cavani 26 pen, 39, Matias Vecino 52) at Montevideo.