Talented Trinidad and Tobago winger Joevin Jones joined the Soca Warriors squad in training on Tuesday but it is uncertain whether he will take the field for Thursday’s friendly international against Jamaica, kicking off at 8pm at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port-of-Spain.
Jones’ surprise return caused a stir in the United States, with the Seattle Times claiming that the wing-back “left [his Major League Soccer (MLS) employers] the Sounders without authorisation.”
Seattle Sounders general manager Garth Lagerway pointedly did not contradict the Times’ version of events although he would only say that Jones returned to Trinidad for personal reasons.
Lagerway conceded that Sounders could not stop Jones from representing the Soca Warriors in upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and Panama on 1 and 5 September respectively. He did say, though, that “friendlies [are] something that we negotiate around.” This could be interpreted as a warning should Jones be used without their permission in Thursday’s friendly, which falls outside of the FIFA international match window.
A TTFA release this evening stated that “There is no confirmation that the player will take part in Thursday’s match.”
However, Wired868 understands that National Senior Team coach Dennis Lawrence is looking into whether he can add the winger to his match-day squad.
Last month, the 25-year-old Jones signed a two-and-a-half-year deal with Bundesliga 2 club, SV Darmstadt 98, which will see the former W Connection standout and Mucurapo East schoolboy join the German second division in January 2018 as a free agent.
Sounders are keen to keep Jones until then as they bid to retain the MLS Cup this December.
It is uncertain whether Darmstadt and Sounders failed to arrive at a mutually acceptable figure for Jones’ early release, which would have allowed him to join the German club before that country’s transfer window closes next week.
Jones’ return to Trinidad means he will miss two MLS fixtures against Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers on 23 and 27 August respectively.
Bizarrely, though, when asked whether Jones would rejoin his employers after this international break or might simply abandon them until his contract expires at the end of the year, the Sounders manager “refused to speculate.”
in league action on Sunday, Jones played for 90 minutes as Sounders won 2-1 over Minnesota United, the worst club in the MLS this season who employ Jones’ compatriot, Kevin Molino.
Lawrence already has San Jose Earthquakes winger Cordell Cato in his fold as Cato was allowed to join the Warriors a week early, after losing his spot in the club’s first team.
The Warriors expected to have the services of Colorado Rapids defender Mekeil Williams against Jamaica as well. However, although Williams also lost his starting position in recent weeks, Rapids decided to keep hold of the player until obliged to release him for international duty by FIFA law.
Jones, who already has one foot out of the door at Sounders, apparently opted to walk to his own beat.
At present, Lawrence has 21 players in camp with Williams, Defence Force goalkeeper Andre Marchan and 17-year-old W Connection attacker Isaiah Hudson all omitted from the initial 24-man provisional squad.
North East Stars defender Kevon Villaroel was recalled after recovering from injury.
Defence Force utility player Curtis Gonzales, a two-time World Youth Cup defender, should face Jamaica for the first time at senior level on Thursday and he is relishing the match-up.
“We know how important it is to get it right for the Honduras game and the rivalry with Jamaica is massive,” Gonzales told the TTFA Media. “I have never played against them but I have heard lots of stories and I am feeling honoured to be part of the team that will take them on on Thursday. I expect the match to be a rough one.”
Jamaica travel to Trinidad with six players from their 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup squad, which finished as runners-up. Defender Ladale Ritchie and midfielders Michael Binns, Ewan Grandison and Ricardo Morris all saw action for the “Reggae Boyz” at the recent Gold Cup while forward Shamar Nicholson and defender Rosario Harriott were unused substitutes.
Jamaica coach Theodore “Tappa” Whitmore has also included 16-year-old attacker Kaheem Parris, who could become his country’s youngest international player if he takes the field at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
Parris was part of the Jamaica squad that eliminated Trinidad and Tobago at Under-17 level last year while he scored twice in a 3-1 win over El Salvador in April, which was the Boyz’ only triumph of the CONCACAF competition.
“I am so grateful for this wonderful opportunity to represent my country,” Parris told CONCACAF. “To be part of the squad is great and I am looking forward to this encounter coming up. I have been working hard and I believe hard work pays off at the end of the day.
“Playing in the CONCACAF tournament at U-17 level earlier in the year […] helped me to develop mental strength and to grow as a player, to get over disappointments quickly, to move on to success quicker and make me want to work harder.
“So with this national senior team call-up, I plan to work hard to be a regular in the senior team.”
Tickets for Thursday’s friendly international, priced at $100 (covered) and $50 (uncovered), are on sale at all NLCB Lotto locations and will also be on sale at the venue on Thursday.
Tickets for the World Cup qualifier with Honduras are also on sale at Lotto locations and fans can get free entry for the Jamaica friendly by showing a ticket for the Honduras affair.
(Trinidad and Tobago squad for Jamaica friendly)
Goalkeepers: Marvin Phillip (Point Fortin Civic), Adrian Foncette (Police FC);
Defenders: Maurice Ford, Triston Hodge, Alvin Jones (W Connection), Taryk Sampson (Central FC), Shane Sandy (St Ann’s Rangers), Kevon Villaroel (North East Stars), 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), Nathan Lewis (San Juan Jabloteh), Neil Benjamin Jr (W Connection), Tyrone Charles (Club Sando), Julio Noel (San Juan Jabloteh), Cordell Cato (San Jose Earthquakes—USA),
Forwards: Rundell Winchester (North East Stars), Marcus Joseph (W Connection);
Standby: Joevin Jones (Seattle Sounders—USA).