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.
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.
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.
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.
“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).