Cato named in T&T squad to face Jamaica; Lawrence: “What happened is behind us”

Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence has recalled Cordell Cato to the Soca Warriors, just two months after the United States-based winger was dropped for indiscipline.

Cato, who plays for San Jose Earthquakes in the MLS, is one of three foreign-based players who will represent the Warriors in an international friendly against Jamaica on 24 August at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Cordell Cato (left) eludes Panama midfielder Miguel Camargo during the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal.
(Copyright Jewel Samad/AFP 2015)

The other two players who will fly in to wear the red, black and white strip are Colorado Rapids defender Mekeil Williams and Aubrey David who plays with PS Remi in Finland.

None of the three players is active for his club at the moment and so all three were allowed to play in the upcoming friendly, which falls outside of the FIFA international match window.

For Cato, it is his first involvement with the national side since he walked out of the team camp on Saturday 3 June, after Lawrence allegedly told him that he could not have his wife, Jonelle Warwick, stay at the team hotel nor could he spend the night with her elsewhere.

Cato was subsequently axed from the qualifying matches against the United States and Costa Rica, both of which ended in defeat for the two-island republic—although Lawrence admitted at the time that the player had neither called to apologise nor made himself available.

However, Lawrence said it is all water under the bridge now, after the 25-year-old winger reached out to him recently via a telephone call.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence (right) thanks midfielder Cordell Cato for his effort during 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Panama at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 24 March 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

“Cordell phoned me [and] we had a conversation,” said Lawrence. “Cordell understands what I’m expecting of him. I think what happened is behind us now. As I said before, the door was never closed to him.

“We had a good conversation and Cordell is going to be here as part of the group. He is going to try to help us achieve what we [set out] to accomplish.”

Cato has played in 15 of the Earthquakes’ 23 outings this season but recently lost his place in the mid-table Western Conference team.

Williams featured in 10 of the Rapids’ 22 games but has also lost his place in the starting time for the second-worst team in the Western Conference. Only newly promoted Minnesota United, who have Trinidad and Tobago ace midfielder Kevin Molino as their franchise player, are below Rapids in the standings.

The three overseas-based players apart, Lawrence has tweaked his squad since the 3-1 loss away to Ecuador, with W Connection attacker Marcus “Lobo” Joseph, pacey North East Stars forward Rundell Winchester and San Juan Jabloteh attacker Julio Noel among the new names in the provisional squad.

Photo: W Connection forward Marcus Joseph (right) lines up a shot while Defence Force defender Jerome McIntyre prepares to intercept during Pro League action at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

Stars defender Kevon Villaroel misses out through injury while midfielder Leston Paul has moved on to El Salvador and playmaker Sean De Silva is away on trial. FC Santa Rosa forward Keron Clarke, who played for 71 minutes against Ecuador, was not recalled despite being recently named the TTSL One Player of the Month.

Clarke, who is a Seventh Day Adventist, ruled himself out of T&T’s upcoming World Cup qualifier against Honduras on Friday 1 September, since the match falls within his sabbath.

Lawrence said the Jamaica fixture is a welcome test for his squad.

Jamaica coach Theodore “Tappa” Whitmore, who was recently offered a contract extension by the JFF, will arrive in Trinidad with four players and two unused substitutes from the “Reggae Boyz” squad that finished as runners-up at the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup in July.

The quartet compromises defender Ladale Ritchie and midfielders Michael Binns, Ewan Grandison and Ricardo Morris. Forward Shamar Nicholson and defender Rosario Harriott were part of Jamaica’s Gold Cup squad but did not see any action.

The Pro League has taken a break until after next month’s World Cup qualifiers—intended, they say, to help the national team’s preparations.

Photo: North East Stars forward Rundell Winchester (right) challenges Police FC midfielder Todd Ryan during Pro League action at the Arima Velodrome on 28 July 2017.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

“I think the Jamaica game will be a fantastic test for the boys because the Jamaica team did really well in the Gold Cup,” said Lawrence. “They will come here on a high. We have managed to acquire the services of several foreign players who are not playing with their clubs. So we are trying to give them some match time before the Honduras game.”

Although the Jamaica contest will be staged at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Trinidad and Tobago host Honduras at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 1 September.

Lawrence said the move was, in part, due to the small crowd and uninspiring atmosphere in Port-of-Spain for recent World Cup qualifiers against Panama and Mexico.

“[The Hasely Crawford Stadium] didn’t have the atmosphere that we were looking for,” said Lawrence, “so the idea is to put the game in a smaller environment so we can try and build a good crowd and create an atmosphere that would help us to try and get the result that we want.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence (far right) and his coaching staff prepare for kick-off against the United States during the 2018 World Cup qualifying series on 8 June 2017.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA Images/Wired868)

(Trinidad and Tobago 23-man provisional squad)

Goalkeepers: Marvin Phillip (Point Fortin Civic), Adrian Foncette (Police FC), Andre Marchan (Defence Force FC);

Defenders: Maurice Ford, Triston Hodge, Alvin Jones (all W Connection), Taryk Sampson (Central FC), Shane Sandy (St Ann’s Rangers), Mekeil Williams (Colorado Rapids—US), Aubrey David (PS Remi—Finland);

Midfielders: Hughtun Hector (W Connection), Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force), Jared London (Club Sando), Nathaniel Garcia (Central FC);

Attacking midfielders: Hashim  Arcia (Defence Force FC), Julio Noel, Nathan Lewis (both San Juan Jabloteh), Isaiah Hudson, Neil Benjamin Jr (both W Connection), Tyrone Charles (Club Sando), Cordell Cato (San Jose Earthquakes—USA);

Forwards: Rundell Winchester (North East Stars), Marcus Joseph (W Connection).

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  1. First off all a proper structure a national team physophly our style of play our system of play then your youth teams can be developed to make the transition from age group to age group into senior team with a smooth transition a technical director and all the different youth teams to senior team with one vision .

  2. So does the success of the team revolve around Cato? It seems as though he is running things, with the backing of someone behind the scenes.

  3. Wasn’t Molino supposed to take time off or something so? After Hart dropped him? To focus on club football or something so? What happened with that? Became null and void after Hart got axed?

  4. Personally, I think Cato’s indiscretion was worse than Molino’s in that Molino never ruled himself out of representing his country.
    But say what. These are our standards.

  5. If we don’t play friendly matches, we blame the TTFA for not doing enough. If we play friendly matches, we say it’s a waste of time because we don’t have all our overseas based players. “Dam if you do Dam if you don’t ” . Can’t believe you Trinis na.smfh.
    I think the editor should spend as much time as he does creating bacchanal and confusion here to educate the members on his page what is the FIFA rules etc. That will be more productive you think right ?

  6. I’m glad that Mr Cato is back. What is as important is “did he learn his lesson that the country and the team is bigger than him?” As long as the coach is satisfied that he has, and that he has made amends, good move

  7. Good that Cato is back. Not everyone’s cup of tea for well documented reasons, but those USA & Costa Rica games showed that he still a important squad member

  8. But hey, these matches just add more value for money for us season pass holders.

  9. This is bulls hit. Such in discipline should incur at least a 1 year ban. Obviously Lawrence is not in charge.

  10. ““[The Hasely Crawford Stadium] didn’t have the atmosphere that we were looking for,” said Lawrence.”

    “The players didn’t have the attitude I was looking for,” said Chabeth.

    But I never understand the point of these matches that include so little of the final team. It was the same thing with Hart and that tour of Asia, was it?

  11. Well if Molino was given a second and third chance eh so be it with Cato to eh Well done Coach Dennis. Them really good yes.

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