The Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Under-20 Team scored twice in stoppage time to snatch a last gasp 3-2 win over St Vincent and the Grenadines this afternoon in their opening Concacaf Championship fixture at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
The junior Soca Warriors trailed for 75 minutes out of the 90 minute contest. Yet, somehow, they managed to come away with three points as substitute Mark Ramdeen and playmaker Judah Garcia struck late to stun “Vincey Heat.”
Trinidad and Tobago play again on Saturday evening when they face Puerto Rico from 3pm at the same venue. It is likely to get tougher for coach Russell Latapy’s teenaged team as they proceed—not only in terms of the quality of their opponents but also the physical durability of his own young men.
The National Under-20s were inactive for the past three months and Latapy did not have the bulk of his squad together until yesterday. Even then, there was a notable absence.
Midfield playmaker Che Benny, who is now attached to the Leixões youth team in Portugal, is still a no show in the United States. Wired868 understands that the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) did not initiate moves for the player’s visa until roughly a week before the tournament. He is expected to get to Florida tonight.
The haphazard nature of Trinidad and Tobago’s preparation looked evident early on, as St Vincent and Grenadines set the pace. Flanker Trivis Fraser looked dangerous every time he touched the ball, as he tormented Warriors full back Kerdell Sween throughout the first half. Sween was replaced by Jerrin Jackie at the interval.
Fraser created the first scare of the match in the ninth minute, as he slipped away from Sween and sprinted half the length of the pitch before ghosting past defender Justin Homer and firing low at goal. The effort squirmed below Trinidad and Tobago custodian Denzil Smith but, fortunately, left back Derron John was alert to the danger as he cleared from off the goal line.
It was a temporary reprieve as, in the 15th minute, Vincey Heat went ahead with an extraordinary goal. Trinidad and Tobago failed to put pressure on a short corner kick routine and opposing playmaker, Gidson Francis, glided past opposing captain Jean-Paul Rochford before curling the ball into the top right hand corner from an unlikely angle.
Four minutes later, Francis doubled his tally from another set piece. This time, he used his head to steer past the stranded Smith off a deep right side free kick.
Smith, incidentally, was wearing a purple bib over his blue goalkeeper jersey, which was found to be too close to the colour of St Vincent and the Grenadines team. It was far from the only sign of disorganisation within the Trinidad and Tobago ranks.
But then St Vincent were hardly a cohesive unit themselves. Forward Jaydon Prowell and winger Kishon Hackshaw both had glimpses at goal before Prowell pulled a goal back in the 38th minute, off an exquisite feed from Rochford. And the Trinidad and Tobago centre forward had two better chances to hit the target in the second half, after being released by Garcia and Rochford respectively.
Latapy’s players started going down with cramp by the hour mark and, in the 75th minute, the coach was forced into a double change with Isaiah Lee and Mark Ramdeen—past and present Naparima College players respectively—replacing Prowell and Orr.
The game was already two minutes into stoppage time when the substitutes finally made their presence felt.
Lee snuck behind a defender and crossed invitingly for Ramdeen, whose shot hit the post and rebounded against St Vincent and the Grenadines goalkeeper Jadiel Chance before going in.
Two minutes later, Trinidad and Tobago completed a dramatic turnaround. Ramdeen won a free kick deep into opposition territory and the Vincey defence seemed to have already switched off, as Garcia ran on to Rochford’s cross to finish with a deft flick.
Up next, Puerto Rico.
Trinidad and Tobago (4-1-4-1): 1.Denzil Smith (GK); 18.Kerdell Sween (4.Jerrin Jackie 46), 5.Justin Homer, 2.Mikel Mieres, 3.Derron John; 19.Shaqkeem Joseph; 12.Kishon Hackshaw, 10.Judah Garcia, 15.John-Paul Rochford, 13.Nickel Orr (7.Mark Ramdeen 75); 9.Jaydon Prowell (6.Isaiah Lee 75).
Unused substitutes: 20.Jabari Brice (GK), 16.Luke Singh, 17.Matthew Beal, 8.Jabarry Francis, 14.Ethan Bonaparte.
Referee: Daneon Parchment (Jamaica)
CONCACAF U-20 Tournament
(Thursday 1 November)
Trinidad and Tobago 3 (Jaydon Prowell 39, Mark Ramdeen 90+2, Judah Garcia 90+4), St Vincent and the Grenadines 2 (Gidson Francis 15, 19) at IMG Academy, Bradenton.