The Trinidad and Tobago Boys National Under-15 Team saved their best showing for last but it was not enough to earn a point or avoid another lopsided scoreline, as they fell 4-1 to Mexico tonight at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
The result meant the host team lost all three games at the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) Youth Invitation Tournament with five goals scored and a whopping 13 conceded.
Arguably, the final scoreline flattered ‘El Tricolor’ but, if the aim is to be competitive against the best teams in the confederation, the TTFA’s NLCB-funded Elite Programme has not delivered. Not yet anyway.
Next month, captain Jaheim Marshall will lead out the Under-15s at the Concacaf Championship in Florida and fans would expect a dramatic improvement on their last trip there when they lost all four matches and conceded a startling 21 goals with just one scored.
Tonight for the first 73 minutes, Trinidad and Tobago looked capable of snatching a point from the sluggish Mexicans who looked a shadow of the team that won their opening outings against Venezuela and Panama respectively.
In fact, Soca Warriors supporters might have hoped for an even better outcome when midfielder Malik Jesse Khan took advantage of some sloppy defending off a Dawn St Rose free kick to give the hosts the lead. The match was barely six minutes old.
It was not against the run of play either. Trinidad and Tobago exploded out of the blocks with Jaheim Faustin and Nathaniel James terrorising the North American nation down either flank.
Faustin—the son of former Strike Squad star ‘Marvellous’ Marvin Faustin—won the free kick that created Trinidad and Tobago’s opener; and his mastery of opposing right back David Lopez was so comprehensive that Mexico coach Miguel Gamero not only replaced Lopez at the interval but subbed right flanker André Ham too, as added insurance.
By then, Mexico had already levelled. Diminutive midfielder Alejandro Alcalá cancelled out Khan’s goal in the 16th minute with another opportunistic strike, after an overhead kick from forward Jesús Hernández fell fortuitously for him in the box.
Trinidad and Tobago never cowered, though. Faustin nearly managed a second goal for the hosts with a shot from the edge of the area in the 20th minute while James forced a sprawling save from Mexico custodian José Eulogio in the 24th minute. Forward Ja-Shawn Thomas went closer still in the 48th minute but missed a one on one opportunity with Eulogio, after being released through clever interplay by Faustin and James.
However, Mexico were not done yet. Midfielder Miguel Avalos served warning in the 51st minute as his header rebounded off an upright; and Hernández missed a gilt-edged chance in the 70th minute, after a rare rash challenge by T&T skipper, Marshall.
In the 73rd minute, the action was at the other end as Eulogio sliced his clearance under pressure from Thomas and needed defender Daniel Alvarado to bail him out.
Unfortunately for the partisan 2,800+ supporters in Couva, it was Mexico who got the breakthrough goal. Substitute Javier Guerrero darted in off the right flank and pinged a shot past Trinidad and Tobago custodian Kanye Lazarus in the 74th minute, after an exchange of passes.
And five minutes from time, Mexico doubled their advantage on the counterattack through two more substitutes, as Raul Chavez crossed for Miguel Carreón to convert from close range.
The goal sparked a mini-exodus of supporters from the covered stands. Before they had located the exit, Mexico were 4-1 ahead as Guerrero danced around a cramping Khan and slipped to Chavez who finished neatly in the 88th minute.
Mexico held on to their three goal advantage until the final whistle.
Trinidad and Tobago have a month to show what lessons have been learnt from the chastening experiences of the past week when, visas permitting, they travel to Florida for Concacaf action.
Trinidad and Tobago (4-1-4-1): 1.Kanye Lazarus (GK); 2.Christian Bailey, 4.Jaron Pascall, 6.Jaheim Marshall (captain), 3.Dawn St Rose; 13.Kassidy Davidson (16.Caleb Borneo 84); 10.Nathaniel James, 8.Molik Khan, 19.Isaiah Thompson (14.Jovonn Gomes 79), 17.Jaheim Faustin (15.Dantaye Gilbert 79); 9.Ja-Shawn Thomas (7.Abdul-Quddoos Hypolite 75).
Unused substitutes: 18.Triston Edwards (GK), 5.Tyrik Trotman, 12.Tristan Stafford,
Coach: Stuart Charles-Fevrier
TTFA Youth Invitational
Trinidad and Tobago 1 (Molik Khan 6), Mexico 4 (Alejandro Alcalá 16, Javier Guerrero 74, Miguel Carreón 85, Raul Chavez 88)