Trinidad and Tobago’s fanciful Poland 2019 Under-20 World Cup dreams came to an emphatic end tonight, as they were thumped 6-1 by host nation, the United States, at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
Only one team will emerge from Group A and the young Soca Warriors have little chance of catching the “Stars and Stripes” now.
After the final whistle, stand-in captain Judah Garcia admitted that USA, the defending champions, were just too organised and well prepared. Trinidad and Tobago were the polar opposite but the young men could hardly be faulted for their effort.
Coach Russell Latapy went into the Concacaf Championship saying that the players could not afford to aim any higher than catching the eyes of scouts—after being virtually cut adrift by the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) and left with no little preparation to speak of.
Yet, opening wins over St Vincent and the Grenadines and Puerto Rico raised hopes and Latapy said beforehand that Trinidad and Tobago would “make a game of it” against USA.
After just 10 minutes, it was evident that the Warriors would have to settle for damage limitation, though.
Brandon Servania opened the scoring in the sixth minute with a fine low shot from outside the box that zipped to the right of Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Denzil Smith. Two minutes later, Smith was reaching into the back of his net again as a shot from US forward Justin Rennicks took a wicked, decisive deflection off Trinidad and Tobago defender Justin Homer.
The two island republic were in danger of being overrun but, in the 32nd minute, Latapy opted for an offensive change as playmaker John-Paul Rochford replaced Homer.
Rochford has been Trinidad and Tobago’s most creative player at the Championship but lost his starting role as Latapy opted to sacrifice a midfielder for an additional central defender.
No matter. Seconds before the interval, the Warriors were further in arrears, as defender Luke Singh miscontrolled at the back and Rennicks seized possession before teeing up Paxton Pomykal for a straightforward item.
The lead was stretched to four goals, seven minutes into the second half, as Pomykal glided past Singh and pulled the back for Alex Mendez to sweep home.
Trinidad and Tobago would have at least one moment to savour though. In the 54th minute, Garcia released Nickel Orr down the left flank and his raking cross found substitute Isaiah Lee at the far post for a simple finish.
Latapy had introduced Lee for another defender, Matthew Beal, at the interval and he could point to that one minor success. It was Lee’s third goal of the competition from one start and two substitute appearances.
Still, USA had the last word as Ulyssess Llanez converted from inside the box after Smith fended away an effort by Pomykal. And Juan Torres made it six from close range in stoppage time, after a clever pass from Mendez.
Smith, who must have felt as though he were in a shooting gallery, avoided a more lopsided scoreline as he pushed a Mendez effort on to an upright, late in the second half.
Regardless, the result was comprehensive enough. And it meant dream over for the young Warriors, although they still have two remaining fixtures against Suriname and US Virgin Islands.
Trinidad and Tobago (5-4-1): 1.Denzil Smith (GK); 4.Jerrin Jackie, 5.Justin Homer (15.John-Paul Rochford 27), 16.Luke Singh, 2.Mikel Mieres, 17.Matthew Beal (6.Isaiah Lee 46); 19.Shaqkeem Joseph, 8.Jabarry Francis, 10.Judah Garcia, 13.Nickel Orr (7.Mark Ramdeen 85); 9.Jaydon Prowell.
Unused substitutes: 20.Jabari Brice (GK), 3.Derron John, 11.Che Benny, 12.Kishon Hackshaw, 14.Ethan Bonaparte, 18.Kerdell Sween.
Coach: Russell Latapy
Concacaf Under-20 Championship
(5 November 2018)
USA 6 (Brandon Servania 6, Justin Rennicks 8, Paxton Pomykal 45, Alex Mendez 52, Ulysses Llanez 56, Juan Torres 90), Trinidad and Tobago 1 (Isaiah Lee 54).