Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence took a broom to his squad today with 10 changes to his 2019 Gold Cup outfit, as they prepare to kick off their Concacaf Nations League campaign with fixtures against Martinique on September 6 (away) and 9 (Couva).
Lawrence’s 23-man squad includes 25-year-old England-born journeyman forward Daniel Carr, who plays in Cyprus with Apollon Limassol, and 25-year-old forward Ryan Telfer who grew up in Trinidad but was born in Canada where he now plays professionally for York9 FC.
There was also a maiden senior call-up for United States-born midfielder Andre Fortune Jr, who is a former National Under-17 and Under-20 player and competes in the US second tier with North Carolina FC.
“As of this morning, we can announce that Ryan Telfer and Daniel Carr [will] now be part of the squad,” Lawrence told the TTFA Media. “We have been in conversation with them for a long period now [about] getting them to represent Trinidad and Tobago and they finally agreed to do it. And we have now [finalised] all the documentation to make them eligible to play for Trinidad and Tobago.
“We have also introduced Andre Fortune who will be involved for the first time at the senior level with me.”
Carr and Telfer are joined in the Soca Warriors squad by India-based forward Marcus ‘Lobo’ Joseph and Police FC frontman Jameel Perry, as Lawrence overhauled his frontline. The only Warrior used upfront in 2019 who kept his place was Levi Garcia, who is nominally a winger, while Shahdon Winchester, Lester Peltier, Willis Plaza and Isaiah Lee were all overlooked.
Winchester and Peltier were members of the 2019 Gold Cup contingent.
United States-based midfielder Duane Muckette and defender Mekeil Williams, Club Sando midfielder Akeem Humphrey and Defence Force defender Curtis Gonzales were among the Gold Cup players cut while team captain Khaleem Hyland misses out due to a hamstring injury and goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh and midfielders Neveal Hackshaw and Cordell Cato were declared unavailable due to passport issues.
Lawrence’s replacements are generally a change from the norm. Eleven of his 23 call-ups played five times or less for the Warriors in his two and a half years in charge so far.
Their job will be to help the Warriors end a dismal run of form in 2019, with returns of zero wins, two draws and five defeats from seven games played with one goal scored and 13 conceded.
Minnesota FC attacking midfielder Kevin Molino has Trinidad and Tobago’s only goal in this calendar year and he lends experience to Lawrence’s current team alongside wingers Joevin Jones and Levi Garcia, defensive midfielder Kevan George, defenders Daneil Cyrus, Sheldon Bateau and Aubrey David and goalkeepers Adrian Foncette and Marvin Phillip.
Foncette, Phillip and Perry apart, there are five local-based players in Lawrence’s team—all of whom are competing in the Ascension Invitational Tournament.
Goalkeeper Glenroy Samuel and left back Ross Russell are Terminix La Horquetta Rangers employees while Carlyle Mitchell is on loan from Rangers to San Juan Jabloteh and brothers Judah and Nathaniel Garcia, both from Division Two team Deportivo PF, join sibling Levi Garcia in the squad.
“Looking at the Ascension League, what I have tried to do is select the squad based on players who are actually playing competitive football because I think we had a lot of lessons to learn from past events,” said Lawrence. “So the squad is made up mostly of players that have been active and have been playing and we are trying to see how best we can ensure that we are much better prepared.”
There was no room for FC Santa Rosa playmaker John-Paul Rochford who debuted in T&T’s 1-0 loss to St Vincent and the Grenadines and has been red hot of late. His five goals are the most by any midfielder in the Ascension Division One.
Gonzales and Radanfah Abu Bakr, who looked steady at the back for Defence Force and Morvant Caledonia AIA respectively, Cunupia FC midfielder Dwane James, Defence Force custodian Aaron Enill and the Rangers trio of tigerish midfielder Kevon Goddard and attackers Jomoul Francois and Kadeem Corbin might also feel unlucky to miss out on current form.
Versatile United States-based full back Noah Powder is another omission. But Lawrence is happy with his squad, which appears to lean on foreign know-how.
“I’m relatively quite happy with the make up of squad and we will assess everyone when they come in,” said Lawrence. “We have some experience in there along with some youth, so the idea is to have the squad gel as best as possible for the games coming up.”
At present, Trinidad and Tobago are ranked 101st in the world by FIFA and, more pertinently, 11th in Concacaf. The Warriors must climb to sixth place in the confederation to qualify for the Hex for the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
(Trinidad and Tobago Team)
Goalkeepers: Adrian Foncette (Police FC), Marvin Phillip (FC Santa Rosa), Glenroy Samuel (Terminix La Horquetta Rangers),
Defenders: Sheldon Bateau (KV Mechelen—Belgium), Daneil Cyrus (Mohun Bagan—India), Aubrey David (Deportivo Saprissa—Costa Rica), Alvin Jones (OKC Energy FC—USA), Keston Julien (AS Trencin—Slovakia), Carlyle Mitchell (San Juan Jabloteh), Ross Russell (Terminix La Horquetta Rangers),
Midfielders: Kevan George (Charlotte Independence—USA), Andre Fortune Jr (North Carolina FC—USA), Judah Garcia, Nathaniel Garcia (both Deportivo PF), Leston Paul (Memphis 901 FC—USA),
Attacking midfielders: Levi Garcia (Beitar Jerusalem FC—Jerusalem), Joevin Jones (Seattle Sounders—USA), Kevin Molino (Minnesota FC—USA), Jomal Williams (Isidro Metapan—El Salvador),
Forward: Daniel Carr (Apollon Limassol—Cyprus), Marcus Joseph (Gokulam Kerala FC—India), Jameel Perry (Police FC), Ryan Telfer (York9 FC—Canada).