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.
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.
“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.
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.
“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.”
(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).