The United States will have an opportunity to avenge their disastrous 2018 World Cup qualifying loss to Trinidad and Tobago on 22 June, as the two nations square off in Cleveland, Ohio at the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup.
Trinidad and Tobago and USA were drawn in Group D of the prestigious tournament today along with Panama and debutantes, Guyana. Only the group winner and runners-up advance to the quarterfinal round.
Men’s National Senior Team Head Coach Dennis Lawrence, who recently received a two and a half year extension by the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), said a rematch with USA was written in the stars.
“I knew it was going to happen because it is what was meant to be,” Lawrence told TTFA Media. “As I said before, when you go into any major tournament I think if you want to win the tournament you have to probably beat some of the better teams and USA are one of the best, so we are looking forward to it.
“They’ll be excited about it and it’s going to be a full house when we play the US because they will have the fans behind them and hopefully a few Trinidadian fans will turn out.”
The Soca Warriors kick off their campaign on 18 June when they face Panama in Minneapolis while their final Group D affair comes against Guyana on 26 June in Kansas City.
Lawrence steered the Warriors to a 1-0 win over Panama at Port of Spain in his first competitive game in charge on 24 March 2017. However, T&T lost two subsequent clashes with the Central American nation, including a 1-0 loss at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 17 April 2018.
Trinidad and Tobago did not enjoy their last encounter with Guyana much either as the two nations played to a 1-1 draw in an exhibition match at Couva on 14 November 2017. But the twin island republic would still start as handsome favourites against their Caribbean colleagues.
At present, Trinidad and Tobago are ranked 93rd in the world by FIFA while USA, Panama and Guyana are 24th, 74th and 175th respectively.
Lawrence stressed the importance of the upcoming competition to his players.
“They are going to look forward to an exciting tournament. It’s the biggest in the Concacaf region,” said Lawrence. “It’s like our World Cup and the players should be excited about it and excited about turning up in a tournament, representing Trinidad and Tobago and doing well. I think they need to just embrace the moment when it comes and go out and just try and do their best.”
But the Warriors’ clash with the host nation is sure to be the group fixture that grabs the attention of USA soccer fans.
On 10 October 2017, Lawrence enjoyed his most illustrious result as a head coach to date as Trinidad and Tobago stunned USA 2-1 at the Ato Boldon Stadium—thanks to a spectacular winner by right back Alvin Jones. The result meant that the ‘Stars and Stripes’ failed to appear at a World Cup tournament for the first time in 32 years and gifted Panama their first ever spot at a senior FIFA competition.
There will be a reunion for the three nations in June.
Guyana, now coached by former Derby County defender Michael Johnson, have history with Trinidad and Tobago as well. Arguably one of the best results in Guyanese football came when the ‘Golden Jaguars’ eliminated the Warriors from the 2014 World Cup qualifying series; and, in the process, booked their own place in the Concacaf semifinal round.
Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago would do well not to end up as also-rans in a formidable Gold Cup grouping, though.
In other Gold Cup news, Mexico, Canada, Martinique and Cuba were drawn in Group A, Costa Rica, Haiti, Nicaragua and Bermuda are in Group B, and Honduras, Jamaica, El Salvador and Curaçao will do battle in Group C.