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Lawrence promises to go toe-to-toe with USA; Cyrus, Plaza in 17-man squad for Colorado camp

Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence has promised to go on the offensive when they face the United States in World Cup qualifying action on 8 June in Colorado.

The Soca Warriors have never defeated the United States in their backyard or even managed a point there for three decades. On this occasion, the two-island republic face an even more daunting prospect as the fixture will be played in Commerce City—some 5,223 feet above sea level.

Photo: United States midfielder Christian Pulisic (right) tries to get past Trinidad and Tobago winger Joevin Jones during FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the EverBank Field on 6 September 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida. The United States won 4-0. (Copyright Sam Greenwood/Getty Images/AFP)
Photo: United States midfielder Christian Pulisic (right) tries to get past Trinidad and Tobago winger Joevin Jones during FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the EverBank Field on 6 September 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida.
The United States won 4-0.
(Copyright Sam Greenwood/Getty Images/AFP)

However, Lawrence, who takes a 17-man squad to Denver to begin preparations tomorrow, believes the key is to be assertive.

“The main thing is to make sure that, from an acclimatisation point, we are well prepared physically,” Lawrence told the TTFA Media. “In terms of how we intend to approach the games, we are going to be on the front foot and try to compete with them. We are going to go toe-to-toe because I don’t think we can afford to sit back and allow the US to take full control of the game.

“It’s not going to be easy because historically it’s not a generous place for us to go to but we need to try and start thinking differently now and believe we can go there and accomplish things.”

Lawrence, a World Cup 2006 player with the Warriors, has included North East Stars defender Daneil Cyrus and India-based striker Willis Plaza in his Denver-bound 17-man squad.

Central FC full back Carlos Edwards and San Juan Jabloteh winger Nathan Lewis were also selected after their contributions at the recent Caribbean Club Championship. Jabloteh finished second while Central, the 2016 regional champions, ended in fourth place.

Photo: San Juan Jabloteh winger Nathan Lewis (left) terrorises Cibao FC right back Ernesto Trinidad during the Caribbean Club Championship final on 21 May 2017 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain. Cibao won 1-0. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: San Juan Jabloteh winger Nathan Lewis (left) terrorises Cibao FC right back Ernesto Trinidad during the Caribbean Club Championship final on 21 May 2017 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
Cibao won 1-0.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

There was no room for Central midfielders Sean De Silva, Nathaniel “Spanish” Garcia and Keston George, though, despite decent performances in the Caribbean competition.

Defender Yohance Marshall, who represented Murcielagos FC last season in the Mexico Second Division, Honduras Progreso (Honduras) attacker Jerrel Britto and Club Sando midfielder Jared London were also left out.

Lawrence’s full travelling squad comprises goalkeepers Jan-Michael Williams, Marvin Phillip and Adrian Foncette; defenders Triston Hodge, Alvin Jones, Carlos Edwards, Curtis Gonzales and Cyrus; midfielders Leston Paul and Hughtun Hector; attacking midfielders Nathan Lewis, Hashim Arcia and Jomal Williams; and forwards Jamille Boatswain, Akeem Roach, Shahdon Winchester and Plaza.

The Europe-based trio of midfielder Khaleem Hyland, defender Sheldon Bateau and winger Levi Garcia are expected to join the camp later this week while Lawrence expects to have his full squad by 4 June.

He made it clear that he does not expect to keep his entire travelling squad and is likely to send a few players back to Trinidad as they near kick-off against United States and Costa Rica on 8 and 13 June respectively.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence gesticulates during friendly international action against Barbados on 10 March 2017. Trinidad and Tobago won 2-0. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence gesticulates during friendly international action against Barbados on 10 March 2017.
Trinidad and Tobago won 2-0.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

The Costa Rica match will also be played at altitude, as the Central American nation will host the Warriors in San Jose, which is 3,845 feet above sea level.

Trinidad and Tobago have played two World Cup matches since Lawrence took over and managed a win over Panama and a loss to Mexico—both at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.

The Warriors have never secured a point in Costa Rica while their last point in the United States came during the era of the Strike Squad. At present, Trinidad and Tobago are bottom of the CONCACAF Hex with the top three teams guaranteed a spot at the 2018 Russia World Cup while the fourth-placed nation will face Asia’s fifth-placed team in a FIFA Playoff.

However, Lawrence insisted that the Warriors will try to keep their World Cup dreams alive by playing positivel—even in enemy territory.

“Everyone understands the history shows that it’s not a nice place for us in terms of collecting points but we have to believe that we can go there and get points,” said Lawrence. “We have to go there and be positive and brave as I continue to say. I have tried to emphasise to the boys that we are leaving here and starting with a point so the idea is we are not going there to give away the point, but instead add to the point that we’ve already got.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago right back Daneil Cyrus (left) tries to hang on to Costa Rica attacker Christian Bolanos during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Costa Rica at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago right back Daneil Cyrus (left) tries to hang on to Costa Rica attacker Christian Bolanos during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Costa Rica at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“When we get to Costa Rica, we will deal with that but the idea now is to come away with a positive result in the next game, which is against the United States.”

Trinidad and Tobago players for Colorado training camp:

Goalkeepers: Jan Michael Williams (North East Stars), Marvin Phillip (Unattached), Adrian Foncette (Police FC);

Defenders: Alvin Jones (W Connection), Carlos Edwards (Central FC), Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force), Daneil Cyrus (North East Stars), Sheldon Bateau (KC Krylia Sovetov—Russia), Triston Hodge (W Connection);

Midfielders: Khaleem Hyland (KV Westerlo—Belgium), Hughtun Hector (W Connection), Leston Paul (North East Stars);

Attacking midfielders: Nathan Lewis (San Juan Jabloteh), Hashim Arcia (Defence Force), Jomal Williams (Murcielagos FC—Mexico), Levi Garcia (AZ Alkmaar—Netherlands);

Forwards: Willis Plaza (East Bengal—India), Jamille Boatswain (Defence Force), Akeem Roach (Unattached), Shahdon Winchester (Murcielagos FC—Mexico).

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forward Willis Plaza (right) runs at Mexico winger Miguel Layun Mexico forward Javier Hernandez (right) tries unsuccessfully to evade a tackle from Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Kevan George during 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on 28 March 2017. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forward Willis Plaza (right) runs at Mexico winger Miguel Layun Mexico forward Javier Hernandez (right) tries unsuccessfully to evade a tackle from Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Kevan George during 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on 28 March 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

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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109 comments

  1. And the thing about it is that our teams doesn’t be getting blown out eh, most of the times they are just loosing by 1 or 2 goals or on penalties, like for example I watched the U 20 played against my second sweetest country who always have their players in training and preparing them months before any youth World Cup tournaments compared to us that is always starting sometimes 2 months before the tournaments eh, and when we played against them we lost the game by 2-1 eh, now tell me if we always prepare our teams the same as they always do eh I am 1000% certain that the outcome will be different eh, Them really good yes.

  2. Which team just won the Caribbean Club Championship again eh, a Dominican club that is in existence only 3- 4 yrs eh and I will continue saying unless there is a real professional league in our sweet country with real professional coaches our football will continue going backwards instead of forward eh and one last question, how many of our players are plying their trade in the EPL eh, so definitely our footballers and the coaches really needs to get their acts together eh. Them really good yes.

  3. How come he didn’t fire up the players in order to beat up Mexico eh, and whatever rum that you is drinking change the brand nah man Barry Baptiste-Swift Them really good yes.

  4. However they are only missing a couple of minor things and that is what has been Plaguing Trinadad and Tobago football for the last 20+ years

  5. Trinadad players are on par with the top players in the world.

  6. I totally believe Dennis Lawrence can fire up those players to win that game.

  7. I think Che is really promising btw. I’d agree he is one to watch.

  8. It’s not necessarily Che’s fault though. Latapy probably would not have been the player he is in this era.
    Latapy was playing for his country from 10 years old because we had younger youth teams then.
    Che has to wait until he was 16 and he yet to get on a plane to represent trinidad. His national youth team didn’t play a single warm up game!
    We have to understand how we are letting these kids down.
    If players like Che, JP Rochford and Pappy were from a different era, there would be European clubs asking for their phone numbers right now.

  9. We have a few but we have a get them out early

  10. So other than my future baller for life Che Benny isn’t there any other players the same like Marvin Faustin, Colin, Sean “Yelllow man” Constantine , Arnold Dwarika. Kerwin Jemmott, Kerwin “Papa” Emanuel and Latas eh, see why our football is in a mess eh. Them really good yes.

  11. Latas was a generational player like maradona pele zidane

  12. Okay my bad I thought you said that we needed another Latas and Che name was mentioned as a comparison

  13. We not comparing him he has a ways to go yet but good player

  14. I don’t know this kid but he must be better than so many quality players Arnold,Hardest etc before we mention Latasmy opinion

  15. Yes lasana. That’s very correct.

  16. N0 surrender no retreat. Play the best players and let them play what they have been practicing.

  17. We have never produced a quality midfielder like Latas with the vision talent or goal scoring ability until we do there is no way we going anywhere

  18. Well it seems that those type of players are the players of the past eh, because none are being developed in our sweet country anymore, look how long it is taking for us to see another Russell “The Magician” Laterpy eh, and the closest to him was my midfield general “Hardest” Kerwin Jemmott …..Them really good yes.

    • They don’t seem to get picked..

    • Maybe so, especially when I was told that if our players isn’t plying their trade in our bootleg professional league or the real professional leagues abroad, they are not even looked at in order to be selected on the Soca Worries team, so hard luck if our players chooses to play in the Super League and the minor leagues where there is plenty more crowd support watching the beautiful game eh, compared to the boot leg professional league. Them really good yes.

  19. No one to man the center of midfield those chosen have a very average work rate. We don’t seem to be learning

  20. What team and the division that he is presently plying his trade in my second sweetest country again?

  21. Interested to see if Guerra will get recalled. He’s having a pretty good season so far.

  22. For the most important game Trinidad ever played, which was that World Cup qualifier away to Bahrain in 2005, Beenhakker started several Pro League players ahead of guys in first and second division football in England. And those players were unquestionably playing in better leagues.
    Because a guy is playing in a better league doesn’t mean he automatically plays ahead of someone in a lower league.

  23. Britto is playing the finals in Honduras so he is excluded for a reason

  24. We are not even fit to play at normal altitude
    This should be fun.

  25. My quote for 2017 and future : Teamwork is a “cooperative effort by the members of a team to achieve a common goal.” The key words in the definition are cooperative effort. Without the support of the entire group, no team can long endure. Football players quickly learn that no member of the team can be a star in every play. Most moments of glory are built upon a long series of plays, each won by committed, determined, bone-jarring blocking and tackling. A winning team is one whose members recognize that when one member of the team is successful, the entire team wins. Conversely, a sure way to develop a losing formula is to create an environment in which team members compete with one another instead of the opponent. When all members give their best in every situation — whether they are carrying the ball or clearing the way for someone else — the team wins, and so does each individual member of it………..Them really good yes.

  26. yawn!!!! less motivational talk more action i wanna see , progress!!! but we all know, we talk a good sales pitch and wen we go usa, we go play the same lethargic league foolsball and only move with no idea what we doing….against USA smh

    • Harsh – but this how a lot of people thinking

    • Well let’s really hope our Soca Worries really get the fitness aspect of the game on point now eh because that is the biggest problem with the team and of course the prolific goals scoring at all times. Them really good yes.

    • not harsh Colin, just fed up ah the mama-guy talk and failure performances,

    • No I don’t really disagree with you David Gintoki Aguillera although I think if warriors play a tactically smart game leaving USA & Costa Rica with draws is not impossible

      Reality is the best warriors XI baring injury picks it self:

      Jan, Aubrey or Carlos, abu bakr or Cyrus, bateau, Williams, Cato, hylaand, George, joevin, Molino, Kenwyne

      Hart already got this team to play at peak performance – Lawrence can aim to match that

      However I don’t know if he can take them to another level beyond what Hart already did (which is needed in order to qualify for Russia) unless we find foreign born TT players in U.K. Or MLS, because to date players in pro league aren’t really challenging the incumbents Kirwin Weston Amiel FullyFocus Mutilal Roneil K Walcott

    • Colin Benjamin true, pro league players from the lethargic league eh making a effort to challenging the foreign based players!!….i do hope he gets them to play too harts level of performances or go even 50% higher than what hart had dem playing!! but we can only dream!! also those players that was picked i shake my head constantly on why pick the same players over and over and over !!! and they always un deliver

    • Well our Father God must be really a “Trini” if our Soca Worries really qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia eh, especially when our players are plying their trade in the MLS and some of the other leagues around the globe and just imagine that we don’t even have 1 player representing our sweet country in the EPL anymore and that is just to show us that our football has been going backwards instead of forward, so I will say this one last time, unless our Professional league and teams, the corrupted TTFA and all the bootleg Coaches and football academies really get their acts together, our sweet country won’t be going back to any World Cup tournament any time soon eh. Them really good yes.

    • Earl Mango Pierre lol even with uncle Jack bligh to get us to the WC… our coaching and development shows that we knows nothing or lack the humility to go and really learn and set goals on developing talent.!!! and all u want happen will really happen when all them old heads and egos get the stepping from ttfa to ssfl, to lethargic! league (pro league) ! and leave football permanently

    • Well our culture isn’t about doing the development programs and developing the talent the same as the South Americans/Central/ USA/Europe/Africa eh, and it is only now that they came up with this Elite Youth Football program so I will be waiting very patiently to see if this is the answer for the future of our football eh. Them really good yes.

    • We don’t even have a Coaches Association that is developing the right Coaches to coach the beautiful game and our players, they must be waiting on me to come and start it for them steeuuppss, everybody just doing their own things, steeuuppss again eh Them really good yes.

    • Earl Mango Pierre exactly….to much ego, n pride.

    • You know how many moons ago I spoke on that along with the Players Association eh, and just imagine that if this was done eh, where our football would have been today and of course all teams and competitions that also should have been playing in our communities eh. look at the kind of crowd support Morvant Caledona and Guya Utd does get eh and ah set ah talk just continuing and nothing is being done about fixing the community fields. Them really good yes.

    • smh. i can only imagine where we cud be with the right people in head positions sigh

    • Yeah you is so right about the right people being at the head positions

  27. Really hoping that the Soca Worries will be able to stop the new prolific goal scoring 18 yr old kid on my second sweetest country team eh and hence the reason why our very own Levi Garcia should also be starting at his age, I doesn’t really understand why he isn’t always a starter on the team, like Coach Dennis is saving him for the next World Cup 2022 in Qator or wha eh Them really good yes.

  28. Hoping for Jelani Peters to get a call because I think team tactically should play a back 3 system for these games to maintain a good balance between being defensively solid and somewhat dangerous in attack

    Don’t think away from home vs these two teams, team can play the same 4-4-1-1 formation, as in the march home qualifiers

    Peters is the natural left footed full back who playing at the highest level right now

    And as pipe dream, the unlikely hope of rumoured TT heritage/Vancouver Whitecaps, full back, Sheanon Williams also getting a call

  29. Hope Lawrence sharpening them toes – big game

  30. Lol. Well, Shahdon and Jomal are in. So that’s two out of five I think.

    • Not seeing Jomal contributing much in this competition

    • To be brutally honest, I’ve never seen Jomal have a decisive game in a competitive match for T&T.
      I’ve seen him show up in CONCACAF matches for W Connection. I do believe he has talent. But something holds him back and he has not done the business for the Warriors so far.

    • For me, Sean De Silva is a more consistent performer even though he doesn’t have Jomal’s strengths.

    • Otherwise, decent team. Wish them well..

    • Guys like Bebo, De Silva, Arcia, Paul, Mitchell namely have impressed enough in pro league/cfu & CONCACAF level somewhat

      The issue I sensed Hart and maybe Lawrence is having with them is figuring out what is there best roles at international level

    • I think their roles are all figured out. It is just for them to catch the pace of the international game. All have had their moments but not enough. Jomal is the only one to get lots of chances.

    • Ye agreed – the impression I’ve got is that in friendlies Hart played them & Lawrence – before competitive matches, there was either no faith or hesitancy to make changes to main XI to bring them in

      People always complaining about Warriors style & guys like Kenwyne, Cato & George gets the most regular criticism

      But none of pro league players who play their positions have the coaches felt are good enough to drop those guys to bring them in

    • Who are the other three? It’s laughable how TT Pro clubs are so competitive they cannot even beat baseball countries amateurs clubs anymore. You think the finalist in Honduras would lose to Cibaoaoaaoao from power house Dominican Republic? Yet you guys think a NT made up of local TT Pro stars will beat USA and CR ???

    • How did you live with yourself when North Korea beat Italy in 66? Upsets happen Cibao had some quality players and did well.
      Is Barcelona a baseball team? Because the Cibao coach spent about two decades coaching their youth team.

    • Lasana Liburd the players you say are having problems with the pace of the international game but then look at our friendly games..I agree with playing the players that are presently playing in the higher leagues but if they are not starting regularly then I go locally for that player

    • We need to be playing more games. Period. I agree with that. Dennis caught me by surprise by selecting Cyrus and Gonzales at centre back for the last two World Cup games when we had foreign-based players like Bateau and Abu Bakr who had been doing well there.
      I don’t know that I agreed with Dennis’ picks. But I like the idea that players cannot take their starting spot for granted. And Curtis and Cyrus didn’t let their coach down either.
      I have no problem with that. Just like when Theobald and Whitley started in Germany and Latapy was on the bench. That’s football. You have to prove you deserve to be in the starting team and shouldn’t expect it on reputation or because you play for a big club.

    • I understand what you are saying ??

  31. hahahahaha You really good yes.

  32. The agent coming out soon to complain… his players didn’t get picked lol

    • You are talking about me? Laugh all you want, but it’s your country getting blown out in those games, not mine. My country doesn’t pick Giovinco who kills it in MLS because the coach knows you pick the players available from the most competitive leagues, not the players who you are friend with or that have the best stats in easy leagues.

    • Good one Earl Mango Pierre…. grow some tough skin nah man Simone Ghirlanda…. one thing about trinis you should know by now is if you can’t take talk is now self we will pepper yuh.. all in good fun man… doh take it too serious lol

    • Brent Bennett What do you think of Dominican Republic league? I hear it’s good

    • Boss I could give ah damn… I have no dog in the fight. For you to make a comparison between trinis selection and Italian selection is ridiculous. We hoping to make up numbers while Italy only goal is to win. I also have said in countless occasions trini don’t have a real pro league.

    • Brent Bennett The approach regardless I believe should be the same. Even Costa Rica picks first all the players abroad in secondary Europe leagues, MLS, then finally the voids are filled with the local players. And mind you their league is the best in Central America, probably marginally below MLS and Mexico second division.

    • Whitley, at Jabloteh, played number 10 for Beenhakker in Bahrain. Yorke was on one wing. Latapy was a substitute. Jason Scotland didn’t get off the bench. Cornell Glen and Brent Rahim didn’t even make the bench.
      Every one of those players were playing at a higher level than Aurtis at the time.

    • I somewhat agree with you but that can be a flawed procedure. Pick based on merit not based on where one plays.

    • Brent Bennett Well if the players manage to play abroad with some success that means they have some merit

    • Agreed… don’t mean they warrant selection tho….

    • Well the problem with Aurtis was his discipline, hence the reason why he didn’t make it abroad on a higher level, but was very talented and he was about to be dropped by Anton Corneal because he continued to attend the practice late as usual until Leo pulled him aside and told him that he will make him a millionaire by taking the Soca Worries to their first ever World Cup in Germany 2006 and after he made his millions that was it for him with respect to the beautiful game and he and the fella from Jamaica I forget his name who also made it to the World Cup in 1998 but never made it on any big team in England and that was because of his Ghetto mentality eh. Them really good yes.