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Hart promises changes as unbeaten Soca Warriors face USA

Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Stephen Hart promised to ring in the changes, as the Soca Warriors close their CONCACAF semifinal round fixtures with a clash against the United States from 8.15pm on 6 September at the Everbank Field in Jacksonville, Florida.

Trinidad and Tobago will wear white kits for the outing rather than their usual red gear.

Both nations have already qualified for the hex, although the Warriors will advance as Group C winners if they maintain their unbeaten record in Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying competition so far.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Joevin Jones (centre) steers home his second goal while Guatemala defenders Christian Jimenez (right) and Hamilton Lopez look on during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain on 2 September 2016. Jones struck twice in a 2-2 draw between the two nations. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Joevin Jones (centre) steers home his second goal while Guatemala defenders Christian Jimenez (right) and Hamilton Lopez look on during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain on 2 September 2016.
Jones struck twice in a 2-2 draw between the two nations.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

And Hart suggested that he will tinker with his roster after a sloppy showing last Friday when Trinidad and Tobago made heavy work of a 2-2 draw with Guatemala in Port of Spain.

“I think certain players have shown in training that they should get a run out,” Hart told the TTFA Media. “I don’t want to change things extensively because I would like to keep some sort of balance but, yes, you’ll see some changes.

“I think what’s more important is to have a good performance [from the players] on their own personal levels and a good, collective performance as a team. Because, like I said, this is sort of the building towards the hex.”

The Warriors are already without Russia-based defender Sheldon Bateau, who is suspended for collecting his second yellow card against Guatemala.

Bateau started alongside Republic of Korea-based teammate Carlyle Mitchell in central defence on Friday. But Hart is not short of depth in that position with towering Denmark-based defender Radanfah Abu Bakr likely to step in while Mexico-based defender Yohance Marshall will also be pushing for a spot.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones (left) and defender Radanfah Abu Bakr wait for a set piece during international action in 2015. (Copyright AFP 2016)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones (left) and defender Radanfah Abu Bakr wait for a set piece during international action in 2015.
(Copyright AFP 2016)

Trinidad and Tobago have nine United States-based players in their 24-man squad, exclusive of team captain Kenwyne Jones. Jones will join new Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise Atlanta United next January but, at present, is on loan at local Pro League outfit, Central FC.

His namesake, Joevin Jones, who scored both goals against Guatemala, plays for MLS team Seattle Sounders and hopes for a strong performance in his adopted nation.

“I think it would be a good way to end the semifinal round with a good result against the US and a strong performance,” said Joevin. “Obviously I know a few of the guys from playing in the League here and there has been a lot of talk about the match.

“Both teams are through but I am sure the two teams will go all out to try and win the match and set the pace for the next round.”

Hart said the Warriors are conscious of the need for a more efficient showing in Jacksonville.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Levi Garcia (centre) takes on Guatemala midfielders Jean Marquez (left) and Rodrigo Saravia during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on Friday 2 September 2016. Both teams played to a 2-2 draw. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Levi Garcia (centre) takes on Guatemala midfielders Jean Marquez (left) and Rodrigo Saravia during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on Friday 2 September 2016.
Both teams played to a 2-2 draw.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

“We know [we are] in the hex now but we also know that we have to be a little more efficient in the things we do, especially off the ball,” said Hart. “We had a long team meeting about it and we would like to start implementing it and look at this match as the first match of preparation for the hex.

“Both goals were preventable [against Guatemala] on Friday and we didn’t deal with the situation well enough. We could have managed the game better when we were 2-1 using our ball possession more effectively.

“We lost discipline and allowed them to at least have a fighting chance by coming back into the game. Obviously we are aware of this and we will be working on it as we head into this match.”

The United States are without star forward and Joevin’s Seattle teammate, Clint Dempsey, after a medical check-up showed that he had an irregular heart beat while Newcastle United fullback Deandre Yedlin is suspended and Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler was excused due to the birth of his daughter.

However, US coach Jurgen Klinsmann does welcome back Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley and Mexico-based defender Michael Orozco, after both missed their 6-0 romp over St Vincent and the Grenadines due to suspension.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Joevin Jones (centre) terrorises United States players DeAndre Yedlin (right) and Michael Orozco during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Joevin Jones (centre) terrorises United States players DeAndre Yedlin (right) and Michael Orozco during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

After tomorrow’s affair, Trinidad and Tobago play the Dominican Republic and Martinique in Caribbean Cup qualifiers on 6 and 15 October respectively before resuming their World Cup campaign with their opening hex outings on 11 and 15 November 2016.

“We have to look at October first,” said Hart. “After a few days just to clear my head, I’ll sit down with the President (David John-Williams) and the staff and plan out October and November with regards to training camps, hotels and flights, once we know who we are playing first in the hex.”

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61 comments

  1. So guys who’s carrying the game tonight? Any of the local stations?

  2. I’m happy with a draw tonight if we can get it. Would be nice to top the group.

  3. The article says that both teams qualified for the HEX, only TNT qualified. As I understand it, if TNT beat the USA and Guatemala has a huge victory 10+ then USA does not advance. The scenario is highly unlikely but the matches have to be played.

    • Lasana Liburd

      Fair point Sean. But about three records will have to be set for that to happen. T&T’s first win in the US, a record win for Guatemala over St Vincent and a record number of goals in a match at this stage…
      Virtually qualified is more accurate. But I feel certain that Guatemala are done.

  4. I think the draw against Dutty-Mala was one of the best things that happened to TT in this campaign. Mainly because we know that we have work to do… the all round mediocre performance showed… however the guaranteed spot in the hex gives us a chance to experiment. I remember in one of your interviews with him Lasana he said that he didn’t have the luxury of playing against top teams and having the ability to try stuff. It was always do or die… now he has that chance. Blessing in disguise…

  5. hahahaha It wasn’t me eh. Them really good yes.

  6. Did you read the Newsday report Lasana? Whoever wrote that is deficient in writing skills as well as vocabulary. And what about the editors and proof readers/ Sad article, saying that Joevin jones was “still smarting” from the two goals he scored. SMFH!

  7. I’d like to see Ranjitsingh in goal Radanfah & Yohance in Central Defence & Aubrey David at left-back Kevan George in place of Boucaud & Jomal Williams in the #10 role replaced by Cummings later in the game

  8. With there being no real pressure as far as making the hex, it scares me a bit. Is the team mature enough to see this as a building block game where they can send a message OR not?