In answer to the summons of National Senior Team coach Dennis Lawrence, out of the wilderness comes Keon Daniel, who last represented Trinidad and Tobago at the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2013.
Addressing the media before taking his team through their paces at the Larry Gomes Stadium yesterday, Lawrence explained his decision to call up the enigmatic talent this way: “Every player that has a Trinidad and Tobago passport is available for selection in my view.”
The 30-year-old Daniel, the former Philadelphia Union man who has a total of 59 caps for his country, has had stints with Polish clubs Miedz Legnica and Flota Swinoujscie since his last game in national colours. And Lawrence who, since succeeding Belgian Tom Saintfiet as head coach earlier this year, has demonstrated a willingness to eschew the orthodox, did not hesitate to invite Daniel to the training camp after the player’s agent informed him that he was currently in the country on vacation.
“Keon has been in Poland for the last three years and he’s been playing a number of different positions,” Lawrence explained. “If Keon shows me this week that he’s capable and ready, then he’s going to be like any other player fighting for a place to go on the plane to Ecuador.”
On 8 June, the Warriors played a 3-4-2-1 system away to the US in World Cup qualification and then, five days later, Lawrence fielded seven Pro League players away to Costa Rica. Selecting Daniel for Ecuador would hardly be a shock.
Daniel’s last goal in red, white and black came against El Salvador in the Gold Cup in 2013, a tournament which Trinidad and Tobago missed out on this year. In contrast, all five of the Warriors’ opponents in the CONCACAF Hex are still involved in this year’s edition of the annual tournament, which is now in the quarter-final stage.
“It would have been a great benefit for us to go in the Gold Cup,” conceded the former Swansea and Wrexham player, trying hard not to focus too much on the empty half of the glass, “I think it would have added value to our preparations.”
“But the benefit I have taken out of it,” he makes a quick switch to the full half, “is that at least the players are actively playing in the Pro League and we have managed to acquire this friendly against Ecuador, which is very good of the TTFA…”
To supplement the provisional squad of mainly locally-based Pro League players, Lawrence has invited three overseas-based players, in Jomal Williams, who is yet to arrive from Mexico, Carlyle Mitchell and Willis Plaza. And he stressed that, with at least one more friendly coming, with luck, in August, only hard work is going to help bridge the gap between the locals and the overseas-based players.
“It’s going to be a very difficult game because everybody knows Ecuador is a top team in the South American continent […]. But it’s going to be a great test for the boys. We need this sort of exposure so I’m delighted.”
Two players who will be striving to show Lawrence their worth over the course of the next week are W Connection’s Isaiah Hudson and FC Santa Rosa’s Keron Clarke. The attacking duo, at the opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to their careers, received surprise call-ups to the provisional squad.
Hudson is 16 years old and represented this country at Under-17 and Under-20 level within the last year. At 31, almost twice the teenager’s age, Clarke has had a journeyman career with stints at WASA FC and Maloney FC in the lower leagues.
But both men will have at least one thing in common: an aspiration first to earn a place in the squad for the Ecuador friendly and then to seal it for what lies beyond.
“I’m off to a flyer right now,” Clarke said to the Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL) media after getting his national call-up. “The goals are coming and hopefully the form will overflow into the national team stint.”
Lawrence is well aware of the challenges involved in making the jump from the lower leagues to the international level but he is also acutely aware of one valuable quality the TTSL sharpshooter possesses.
“I have been going to the Super League and one thing I know about the boy for sure is that he can finish and he’s a natural goal-scorer,” Lawrence said. “I’ve got a lot of questions in my head in terms of physicality […] but then I thought to myself the only way I can answer these questions is through the Ecuador friendly.”
The robust and hard-working Clarke has scored seven goals in the TTSL One season so far, second only to Guaya’s Carlon “Judgement” Hughes, who leads the scoring charts with eight. And the door may well be open, Lawrence let it be known, for “Judgement” and other TTSL in the local leagues.
“I’ve got a concept that if you are good enough—in most cases the League is the league the best players are in—and we do find rare ones that play in another level so it’s an open door for all players.”
The statement is certain to provide encouragement to several TTSL players but Lawrence also threw a bone at the younger players, noting that Hudson’s inclusion was part of a wider nurturing process for players who come through the youth ranks.
“What I have assessed since being in the job is that the Under-20 players who played in the CONCACAF tournament under coach Brian Williams have been inactive since we didn’t qualify,” Lawrence revealed. “The idea is to integrate the players who are below the age of 23 closer to the senior team […] so that when the time comes and they are ready to be involved in the senior team, they will have a better concept of what we want to do.”
And actions speaking as loudly as words, included in the group that trained today were, apart from Hudson, his former National Under-20 teammates Taryk Sampson and Shane Sandy as well as goalkeeper Jabari Brice.
Hudson and Daniel have both had disciplinary issues at junior and senior level respectively. So what does Lawrence have to say on that?
“What I would say is that whatever has happened to Keon and Isaiah has not happened with me,” he responded. “I think everybody knows my policy: we need to respect each other and we need to maintain our discipline throughout…”
And the issue of discipline led in a straight line to versatile flanker Cordell Cato, who has been a vital part of the World Cup campaign so far. He started in all four qualifiers in the Hex before crossing the disciplinary line and being released from the team camp prior to the qualifier against the US on 8 June. Lawrence admitted that he has not spoken to the Carenage speedster since that incident.
If Cato is not in Lawrence’s plans for the immediate future, players like Sean De Silva, who is heading back home after trials in Europe, Nathan Lewis, who featured in the last two games, Tyrone Charles and Williams (J) are likely to be the ones battling for a spot on the right flank in the crucial qualifiers against Honduras and Panama on 1 and 5 September respectively.
Unless Lawrence pulls some other surprise(s) out of the hat before then.
Provisional squad for Ecuador
Goalkeepers: Marvin Phillip (Point Fortin Civic), Andre Marchan (Defence Force), Jabari Brice (San Juan Jabloteh);
Defenders: Carlos Edwards (Central FC), Alvin Jones (W Connection), Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force), Taryk Sampson (Central FC), Shane Sandy (MIC IT St Ann’s Rangers), Maurice Ford (W Connection), Carlyle Mitchell (East Bengal FC—India), Akeem Benjamin (San Juan Jabloteh), Triston Hodge (W Connection), Kevon Villaroel (North East Stars);
Midfielders: Nathaniel Garcia (Central FC), Leston Paul (North East Stars), Hughtun Hector (W Connection), Jared London (Club Sando);
Attacking midfielders: Nathan Lewis (San Juan Jabloteh), Tyrone Charles (Club Sando), Hashim Arcia (Defence Force), Keon Daniel (Unattached), Sean De Silva (Central FC), Isaiah Hudson (W Connection), Jomal Williams (Murciélagos FC—Mexico);
Forwards: Keron Clarke (FC Santa Rosa), Rundell Winchester (North East Stars), Willis Plaza (East Bengal FC—India).
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He’s a cool dude and at this point I see nothing wrong with trying a different type of player to spark a result ….what do we have to lose?
I will be thrilled if he does well. I have nothing against the fellah. He just has a lot of making up to do because he let us down a couple times in the past. So I am wary of him at present. I don’t think he deserves it to be honest. But once he is there, I can only hope he does well.
If my comments was taken wrong, let me clarify! I was being sarcastic by call for other past players (old and players who haven’t got the call yet. Because the Wired868 community of football pundits always calling for this one and that one to be included in every camp called by the Head coach. Oh gosh man, just let the team be and be supportive na. Trinidad and Tobago good yes
Anthony Wolfe should get his return as well not so?????
What about kerry Daniel from morvant Caledonia..
What about Trevin Cesar Atela Guerra
Coach Lawrence do you need an additional keeper? contact me please.
Kristel Thomas and Josanne ‘Thicky’ Thomas look we boy well yuh know Sunde ThomasSunde and Victor Thomas must be already in di know
Would love to c both tobago players play together caesar and daniel both cousins from the same village
Why not add York, Latapy, Sancho, Christ, the Wolf brothers. Charles, Denzel, and every other player to ever play for T&T or playing in the pro league and other leagues. Smfh.
The problem with players like Keon Daniel, Keron “Ballpest” Cummings, Corbin, and I can name a few others even from the past , they don’t even know that they can be millionaires , is it because that they hails from certain areas and environments and I have been asking this question for years ” How do we get through to them in their brains with respect to the “DISCIPLINE” and plenty hard work in order to really make it in the real top of the line professional leagues abroad like the EPL , Italy, Germany, Holland, Spain, leh meh hear what you have to say nah Roland Clarke and Brian Harry and yes I was told many moons ago that I couldn’t save all the players because as the saying goes “you can bring the donkey to the well to drink the water and if he doesn’t want to drink, he cannot be forced. Them really good yes.
I remember interviewing Keon Daniel for my soca warriors reloaded column few yrs ago in Guardian. I remember him being such a nice young man. Tbh I don’t know much about his football career now but I’m rooting for him.
When i first heard of his selection I had commented that he could just walk on this team. Because about 5 years ago I saw him in Chicago against the US in an embarrassing loss…I only wanted them to pass it to so I could see him take on defenders and see how easy he made the game look…think Joevin right now and that was him when i saw him back then.
I hope he makes this team.
Wow. Let’s see how things unfold. I certainly hope we eventually find our strongest team bcus we really need to be doing better…
Cherisse this campaign is over just like mike tyson ‘s acting career
Dats true ,I will like to see Trevin and N Hackshaw giving a chance ,they are performing week in week out for their respective clubs in a good enough standard league
Good verb real professional coaches good exciting attacking football
Choy Aping Although I agree with you eh, as I said they need to stop exploiting my players and pay them much better salaries, take the football back to where it really belongs in the communities, so that they can always get the real crowd supporters, hire real professional Coaches, and last but not least make certain that the players and Coaches are held accountable for the improvement of the of the beautiful sport in our sweet country and yes their habits have to definitely change in order to become real professionals. Them really good yes.
He need to give Cummings a afair chance just as everyone else i understand it is not on fitness from his shooting incident however it was base on report on indiscipline reported by one of the assistance Cummings was rather unfortunate and if he has 100 % full fitness he deserved a fair recall .
Earl Mango Pierre, the challenge is, how do we go from here to there given Our major talent drain?
Paying amateurs 10k a month won’t magically turn them into professionals or improve their skill set.
The fact of the matter is, the standard of our football in Trinidad is low, yet that low is still high in the CFU region so there’s not much impetus to improve apart from when WCQ come around.
When you look at TT Pro League it a like watching an ant nest after you jook it with a stick compared to let’s say MLS.
It’s gonna take a lot of effort to get T&T football anywhere near professional status, first our mindset have to change to the way we view football (Most Trinis only know Football when WCQ comes around), then you have to start improving the standards and facilities at Secondary School Football level and work your way up to senior level.
When my local professional league players starts earning the same salaries like my police and soldiers $10,000 plus a month eh, only then the level of our professional league will rise to the occasions again eh and of course the football must return to our communities with the name of the teams representing our communities, proper seating accommodations, security and most importante top of the line playing fields and only then Coach Dennis and other Coaches can always bum their gums. Them really good yes.
What does Dennis Lawrence have against Trevin Caesar……this was the perfect opportunity to call him up….Lasana you have an email for Lawrence ?
I actually don’t. But I’m fairly certain that either him or one of his close representatives will read your comment.
Well I am happy to hear they does read our comments .
Way too go coach.Very good.
Always thought that he wud’ve been one of our shinning lights. Possible AD now……
Earl Mango Pierre, you would only here those kind of excuse for Selection from Browne and CWI
Like 28 year old Carlos Brathwaite with an avg of 13 in ODI is an investment in while 23yr old Ambris with an avg of 55 can’t be selected
I couldn’t believe when he said in an interview on the TV 6 news last night that both the local players and the foreign base real professional players are on the same level. Them really good yes.
A few SL players (current & former) could make this list …
At this stage I think it’s a bit late for experimenting. If he’s seriously considering playing them in the WCQ then it’s all well and good to play them in the Practice Match, if not then it would be better suited if he allow the guys who he had in the last couple matches more playing/gelling time together.
There’s equal part hints of experimentation, desperation and scattershot in this latest team selection, however, I wish him the best. Wonder if Hudson played for any other pro league team if he would have still been selected? Was there ever any disciplinary measure coming out of his abandoning the national U20 team? Bring on Ecuador and another high quality practice game, but we need to get the players most likely to play in the WCQs into the practice matches wherever possible.
Fair game – if he going to be rightfully open minded about every player & super league players ahead of the do or die qualifiers in September
I await to hear if he will also track the T&T heritage MLS contingent