Trinidad and Tobago’s all-time leading Beach Soccer goal scorer, Kevon ‘Showtime’ Woodley, finally opened his account today at the 2021 Concacaf Beach Soccer Championship while 21-year-old goalkeeper Jabari Gray saved a penalty kick.
But those footnotes were ultimately scant consolation for the twin island republic, as they were mauled 9-2 by El Salvador in this afternoon’s quarterfinal match-up at the Complejo Deportivo Fedefutbol in Alajuela, Costa Rica.
Trinidad and Tobago are Concacaf quarterfinalists for four times in a row now but they have not convinced at the 2021 competition and never looked like contenders for a spot in the final four.
Today’s game lasted 36 minutes; but in truth, for more reasons than one, it ceased being a contest after just 30 seconds. Woodley barged into El Salvador custodian Eliodoro Portillo moments after the kick off and injured himself in the process, while Portillo added insult to injury by blasting home from the free kick.
Less than a minute gone and Trinidad and Tobago were already a goal behind, while the 34-year-old Woodley went on to spend so much time grimacing on his back that he was lucky the Salvadorians did not build a sand castle around his lanky frame.
El Salvador doubled their lead in the third minute as a shot from defender Heber Ramos, under no pressure from his Caribbean opponents, crashed off the underside of Gray’s bar before being hooked home by Exon Perdomo.
Woodley, playing on despite the pain, pulled a goal back from a free kick soon after. It was goal number 27 for Showtime, who began the tournament as Concacaf’s sixth all-time leading scorer. And the score was still 2-1 to El Salvador when coach Ramiro Amarelle greeted Trinidad and Tobago players at the end of the first period.
The scoreline was a mirage, though, and El Salvador wasted little time in asserting their superiority after that. The only question was who from veteran Frank Velásquez and rising star Rubén Batres would make Gray reach into the back of his net more often.
Velásquez is Concacaf’s all-time leading scorer with 54 career goals at kick off—seven of which came in the current tournament—while the younger Batres was joint sixth with Woodley, after notching six items in the group stage of the ongoing championship.
Twenty-one seconds into the second period, Batres pulled away from Woodley again, as he punished a Gray error with a firm free kick that beat the former Presentation College (San Fernando) student at his near post. 3-1.
Gray atoned with a penalty save off Jason Urbina soon after, but a Jesse Bailey own goal pushed the deficit to 4-1 before the end of the second period. And El Salvador again scored soon after the restart, as Batre drove in their fifth after Trinidad and Tobago captain Ryan Augustine failed to cut out a Perdomo throw.
Enter Velásquez. His first notable contribution was to flick the ball over Woodley’s head before burying a shot below Gray’s body for El Salvador’s sixth.
Omri Baird made it 6-2 with a deflected shot, but you sensed that the Central Americans were far from finished. Batre completed his hattrick from the penalty spot, which took him to a tournament high nine goals. But Velásquez was just getting started.
The wily forward made it 8-2 with a cracking left footer into the far corner, as the Trinidad and Tobago defence backed off. And he completed his own trick via a straightforward finish in the 34th minute, after a Gray turnover.
At the final whistle, Velásquez’s tally in the 2021 edition stood at 10 goals while his all-tile record is now 55.
El Salvador, former Concacaf champions in 2009, have scored a whooping 37 goals from four matches in this tournament, which is 13 more than the second most potent team, the United States.
For Trinidad and Tobago, there ought to be an inquest as to why the players failed to show the rewards of their pre-tournament camp in Paraguay.
From four games, T&T scored 14 goals and conceded 24 times while their solitary win over Turks and Caicos (7-5) was far from convincing.
But at least Woodley and Gray had their moments, while Dominic McDougall, Shallun Bobb, Augustine and the spritely Akinola Gregory—in particular—did not let themselves down.
It is worth noting too that, the Beach Soccer troops apart, the Trinidad and Tobago Under-20 Girls Team are the TTFA’s only representative to reach a quarterfinal in the past four years.
Trinidad and Tobago: 1.Jabari Gray (GK); 4.Shallun Bobb, 5.Omri Baird, 10.Dominic McDougall, 11.Kevon Woodley.
Substitutes: 12.Zane Coker (GK), 2.Joash Baird, 3.Akinola Gregory, 6.Ryan Augustine (captain), 8.Jesse Bailey, 7.Lemuel Lyons, 9.Hakeem King.
Coach: Ramiro Amarelle
El Salvador: 12.Eliodoro Portillo (GK); 3.Heber Ramos, 5.Exon Perdomo, 7.Elmer Robles, 9.Rubén Batres.
Substitutes: 1.Erick Nájera (GK), 2.Andrés Cruz, 4.Melvin González, 6.Jason Urbina, 8.Darwin Ramírez, 10.Agustín Ruiz, 11.Frank Velásquez.
Coach: Rudis González
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