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Tinkerman Tallest misses out on historic point; “Chicharito” leads Mexico past stubborn T&T

The Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team came within three minutes of a famous result in Mexico last night but, at the final whistle, it was a seventh successive loss for coach Dennis Lawrence’s men.

West Ham United striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernández was the man to break the hearts of the visiting team with a typically predatory finish in the 87th minute while a late free kick from Hector Herrera added some arguably undeserved gloss to the scoreline.

Photo: Mexico forward Javier Hernandez (right) strikes the ball as Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Kevan George looks on during World Cup qualifying action in San Luis Potosi, Mexico on 6 October 2017.
(Copyright AFP 2017/Yuri Cortez)

Mexico ended the game as 3-1 winners, although it was a much tighter affair than the score summary suggested.

Sure, “El Tricolor” dominated possession throughout—67 percent to 33 in each half—while the count of successful passes read 319 for the hosts and 93 for the visitors. But with Defence Force utility player Curtis Gonzales in top form in central defence and Police FC goalkeeper Adrian Foncette up for the challenge between the uprights, Mexico rarely looked like scoring.

And, in the 65th minute, Trinidad and Tobago suddenly looked capable of pinching more than just a point as, against the run of play, Shahdon Winchester scored with a neat finish.

The Soca Warriors could not hold on, though, as substitute Hirving Lozano levelled in the 78th minute before Hernández and Herrera spared Mexico the blushes.

Lawrence would no doubt prefer to focus on the positives and there were a few. The lanky rookie coach has already proven to be an unorthodox squad selector but it took his team’s elimination from the campaign to really bring out his inner “Tinkerman.”

Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team players pose before kick-off against the home side in San Luis Potosi, Mexico on 6 October 2017.
(Copyright MexSport/CA-Images/Wired868)

Not only did Lawrence leave out 12 players from his last match-day squad—including his two main goalkeepers, two team captains and all three forwards—but he sprang another surprise with his available players in Mexico as his two most high-profile players, Kevin Molino and Joevin Jones, started the contest on the bench alongside Canada-born goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh.

Just over a week ago, Lawrence said he omitted Jan-Michael Williams and Marvin Phillip to give Ranjitsingh a shot. So, presumably, the United States-based goalkeeper did not suitably impress on the training ground. After all, Foncette has been in the squad all along—languishing as third choice behind the veteran pair of shot-stoppers.

Foncette’s first chance in the spotlight came under former head coach Tom Saintfiet in January and he did not cover himself in glory on that occasion, when Trinidad and Tobago conceded six goals in two matches against Suriname and Haiti in the CONCACAF Gold Cup Play-offs.

But he looked steady enough at the Estadio Alfonso Lastras—some 6,070 feet above sea level—and made two impressive first-half saves to deny Chicharito and opposing captain Andrés Guardado.

Photo: Mexico captain Andres Guardado is felled by a tackle from Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Kevin Molino during World Cup qualifying action in San Luis Potosi, Mexico on 6 October 2017.
(Copyright AFP 2017/Yuri Cortez)

Defender Kareem Moses, called up up of the blue once Lawrence realised that right-back Alvin Jones was unavailable through suspension, played out of position on the right side of the defence and struggled at times. But it was Moses’ alert defending at the back post to deny Hernández that was the most outstanding play of the first half and ensured that both teams went in at the interval on level terms.

If Trinidad and Tobago fans felt it could not get better than that, they were wrong.

Twenty minutes into the second half, Winchester, who is on the roster at Murciélagos FC in the Mexican Second Division, reacted sharply to a Levi Garcia’s headed flick-on and then produced a finish to match, steering the ball home off the inside of the far post.

It might even have been 2-0 but for a low save from Mexico goalkeeper Jesus Corona off Trinidad and Tobago winger Nathan Lewis, another Warrior who did himself justice on the night.

In central midfield, team captain Khaleem Hyland—Trinidad and Tobago’s most capped player yesterday with 73 appearances before kick-off—was the glue in the team, using his wit and experience to keep his team compact, slow the game down and frustrate the hosts on the small ground.

Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osario pushed players forward in search of an equaliser. Lawrence countered by introducing the fresh legs of Molino and Joevin.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forward Shahdon Winchester (right) tries to keep the ball from Mexico winger Javier Aquino during World Cup qualifying action in San Luis Potosi, Mexico on 6 October 2017.
(Copyright AFP 2017/Yuri Cortez)

Molino ran hard for the team—Joevin not so much—but his touch was not there and Trinidad and Tobago never looked better off for the changes. And Lawrence might have felt short-changed when Mexico’s substitute, Lozano, grabbed the equaliser from close range after Joevin failed to pressure a left-side cross from opposing wing-back Miguel Layún.

It could easily have been 2-1 to Mexico in the 82nd minute but Foncette produced a good reflex save to deny Hernández off a Carlos Vela pass. And the Warriors looked to be on course for a famous point in Mexico.

Trinidad and Tobago’s five previous World Cup qualifying trips to Mexico all ended in defeat with 17 goals conceded and one Hayden Tinto strike to show for their time. Notably, though, the Warriors briefly looked like stealing a point on their last trip to the Spanish-speaking North American nation before stumbling to a 2-1 loss on 9 June 2009.

Would Lawrence’s men go one step further than Russell Latapy’s team had done eight years ago?

The final answer was ‘no.’ In the 87th minute Corona ran into space down the right side of the Trinidad and Tobago box and, although Foncette parried his firm effort, Chicharito latched on to the rebound to score with a swivelled header.

And, three minutes into stoppage time, Mexico added an unnecessary insurance item when Herrera beat Foncette from a set piece.

Photo: Mexico forward Javier Hernández (right) and teammate Giovani Dos Santos (left) try to find a way past Trinidad and Tobago defender Daniel Cyrus during World Cup qualifying action in San Luis Potosi, Mexico on 6 October 2017.
(Copyright AFP 2017/Yuri Cortez)

At least Lawrence has something to build on when the Warriors end their campaign against the United States on Tuesday night at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.

For all the talk of fresh blood, there were a respectable 277 caps in Lawrence’s starting team in Mexico. Although, at the other end, in their first XI, Mexico boasted a remarkable 726 international appearances.

The United States need a win in Couva to be sure of automatic qualification for Russia although, their 4-0 win against Panama last night means that, if Honduras and Panama both lose on their final day, a draw or even a loss might still see them sneak through.

If United States coach Bruce Arena feels he has some clear idea of what team Lawrence might put out to face the “Stars and Stripes,” he might not find another person in the two-island republic who shares his confidence.

(Teams)

Trinidad and Tobago (4-2-3-1): 22.Adrian Foncette (GK); 2.Kareem Moses, 13.Curtis Gonzales, 5.Daneil Cyrus, 4.Kevon Villaroel; 19.Kevan George, 23.Leston Paul (10.Kevin Molino 60); 7.Nathan Lewis, 8.Khaleem Hyland (captain), 16.Levi Garcia (3.Joevin Jones 72); 9.Shahdon Winchester (20.Trevin Caesar 86).

Unused substitutes: 1.Glenroy Samuel (GK), 21.Greg Ranjitsingh (GK), 6.Josiah Trimmingham, 11.Neil Benjamin, 12.Kathon St Hillaire, 14.Akeem Roach, 15.Jared London, 18.Triston Hodge.

Coach: Dennis Lawrence

Mexico (4-1-4-1): 1.Jesus Corona (GK); 3.Carlos Salcedo, 15.Hector Moreno, 5.Diego Reyes (19.Oribe Peralta 70), 7.Miguel Layun; 16.Hector Herrera; 20.Javier Aquino (8.Hirving Lozano 55), 18.Andre Guardado (captain), 10.Giovani Dos Santos (11.Carlos Vela 61), 17.Jesús Corona; 14.Javier Hernandez.

Unused substitutes: 12.Rodolfo Cato (GK), 13.Guillermo Ochoa (GK), 2.Edson Álvarez, 4.Hugo Ayala, 6.Jonathan Dos Santos, 9.Raul Jimenez, 18.Elias Hernandez, 21.Elias Hernández, 22.Erick Gutiérrez, 23.Oswaldo Alanis.

Coach: Juan Carlos Osorio

Referee: Kimbell Ward (St Kitts and Nevis)

CONCACAF 2018 World Cup qualifying results

(Friday 6 October)

USA 4 (Christian Pulisic 8, Jozy Altidore 19, 43 pen, Bobby Wood 63), Panama 0 at Orlando;

Mexico 3 (Hirving Lozano 78, Javier Hernandez 87, Hector Herrera 90+3), Trinidad and Tobago 1 (Shahdon Winchester 65) at San Luis Potosí

(Saturday 7 October)

Costa Rica v Honduras at San Jose.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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23 comments

  1. Hindsight is 20-20 eh. So it real easy to say now the Molino and Joevin subs weren’t good subs. I expected them to inject some energy into the team and give us a little dynamism on the attacking front. I think Molino particularly had some energy and enthusiasm but a few missed passes and lack of decision-making was where he faltered most. What I will say though is that both should have to earn back their spots, mainly through a visual display of commitment, determination and leadership as they are two of the most talented individuals in our current squad; so that aspect shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

  2. It’s more like “Tallest the DOHTISH MAN”. You team playing compact and leading till 75′ yet you change the chemistry of the team and bring on two midfielders (Molino and Jones) who does be pulling stones on the field. Our strenght is our speed, Tallest suppose to take of Winchester and rest him for Tuesday and bring on Caesar and bring on a 5th Defender or another Def Mid and play on the counter attack….Tallest you are an idiot.

  3. Joevin Jones and Kevin Molino did nothing on the field last night. I really hope those 2 have played their last game for T&T. A simple defensive move by Joevin could have prevented Mexico’s 1st goal

  4. They were playing on ice for the entire game..Our players were being sent for beers at every single rumshop..The carib factory belonged to them after that Mexico game..We need to look for a team.

  5. I think a lot of experience senior players could say now, thank you for the opportunity and bow out gracefully. Younger players chance now.

  6. TT looked good until that Lozano goal.

  7. Confirmation for who didn’t know who are purging the Trinidad and Tobago senior football team. If you are not committed just say the word and make it easier for the coach and most importantly the supporters. Heaviness yes.

  8. Hannibal Najjar

    Like LL said – the El Tri came away with a less than glowing win or, as he put it, “arguably undeserved gloss to the scoreline”. But let us face it, Mexico showed what they are made of too, for when defeat was steering them in their face (and just look at the coach’s relief when they equalized and, AGAIN, when baby-face Chichatarito, nailed that rise-and-punch header) they piled on what was needed. I was happy however, to see our calculated and thoughtful play and was proud of the entire team’s efforts especially in the defensive, man-to-man-zonal, switch-ups and transitioning aspects. I also liked the counter attacks It is clear that the players gave a very good performance and that is intrinsically hinged on the low pressure that was tied to this game – they played without worry of losing – brain and body “muscles” were less tight. Mexico too, WC qualifiers already, was rather lethargic and unlike themselves until…….. We have done well against Mexico in our previous 4-4 and 3-3 ties as well and those were when the pressure was low enough to allow us to be at our relaxed best – that’s the state we need to be at for all of our games and where the pressure and stakes are high. Well done DL and players!

  9. Although, Mexico qualified already that game still meant alot. The passion and pride dey showed, was for the country and citizenry. Trinidad never had a chance.

  10. Could have done with out Molino and Jones they did not help us at all.

  11. Rock bottom is a base to start a solid foundation..
    We said goodbye to Russia several months ago..
    T&T football is at the crossroads now…

  12. It is’nt that Mallino and Jones not good they are but they are not committed and dissaplined. They do not deserve their pick right now untill they realize what representing the red white and black means. And as for Cyrus lord help us he is a proven failure.All inall the young guys played with heart and passion.

  13. If it aint break dont fix it…the Tinkerman tinkered with a working, committed, confident performing unit when he brought in Molino and Jones and the latter was slow in picking up on Lozano who had an easy slot in for goal no. 1. An encouraging display nonetheless…onto the Stars and Stripes on double 10 day.

  14. Lasana, I agree with some of the things you said: Adrian Foncette did have an impressive game , Hyland was as usual steady and hard-working, but Molino and Jones..smh, wasted changes. I wonder if coaches get an itch to make changes, why make it if it is not necessary. Hart said that Jones will make a great player if he would play off the ball and he was correct, the man does nothing to assist in defense.Could someone please explain why Cyrus on the team, what is it coaches see…he never impresses.

    • Lasana Liburd

      I’m just assuming the guys were tiring and we needed fresh legs on the field. When you look at the bench, he brought on the only three players with extensive experience; and that is understandable considering you are playing Mexico away.
      So if he didn’t think the young players he carried were ready to play, was it worth it carrying them?

  15. We were solid in defense for long periods in the game but I felt there were times players should have pressed but retreated back into their shape…which isn’t a bad thing per say, but we could have forced more opportunities out of the game ….mexico isn’t comfortable with high pressure defending

  16. Foolish substitution cost T&T this game. Molino and Joven Jones…..nfg