Ten-man T&T hang on for 80 minutes, before 3-0 fall to USA in CNL 1/4 final

EPL Infrafred Sauna

Trinidad and Tobago conceded three late goals in Austin, Texas last night as they lost 3-0 to the United States in the first of a two-legged Concacaf Nations League quarterfinal tie.

The two nations meet again at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on Monday 20 November with USA needing to merely avoid a heavy defeat to advance to the semifinals—and book a place for the 2024 Copa America tournament.

USA midfielder Giovanni Reyna celebrates his team’s third goal in their 3-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago in Austin, Texas on 16 November 2023.

The Soca Warriors can still follow USA to the Copa America, but they will need to defeat another losing quarterfinalist in a playoff to do so. Coach Angus Eve would probably fancy his chances, after another night of remarkable defiance against a higher ranked nation with an additional player to boot.

And, not for the first time, Eve laughed in the face of statistics.

At halftime, the United States had 76% possession with seven shots to zero from Trinidad and Tobago. But the Soca Warriors were already down to 10 players and, crucially, the hosts had not managed a single shot on target.

Eve made two big calls before kickoff last night. First, he chose a five-man defence supported by four midfielders who sought to play narrow against USA’s midfield three. (USA used a 4-3-3 shape.)

Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team head coach Angus Eve directs proceedings from his technical area during Concacaf Nations League A action against Guatemala in Port of Spain on 13 October 2023.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

The Warriors coach also decided to use Malcolm Shaw as his lone striker with Trinidad and Tobago’s most gifted player, Levi Garcia, seated among the substitutes.

With USA coach Gregg Berhalter allowing his full backs to bomb forward in support of his wide attackers which had the knock-on effect of stretching Trinidad and Tobago’s midfield quartet, Eve was never really able to coral the host team’s midfield triangle.

And the host team passed the ball for fun.

But there was little to trouble Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Denzil Smith outside of an effort from former Barcelona right back Sergino Dest, which was recorded as a skewed cross by the data analysts.

Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Denzil Smith.
Photo: TTFA Media

Eve would have been deeply troubled by midfielder Noah Powder’s first half dismissal though.

Powder, who campaigns for American lower league team Northern Colorado Hailstorm, was unlucky in one sense to be booked in the 18th minute for stepping on opposing midfielder Weston McKennie’s ankle. It was an inadvertent collision.

Yet, it was still dangerous play and very painful for the Juventus midfielder.

Jamaican referee Oshane Nation decided a yellow card was enough punishment.

However, Nation flashed yellow again in the 36th minute after Powder unwisely lunged at McKennie in a non-threatening part of the field. And the Warriors utility player had to leave, with over an hour remaining.

Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Noah Powder apologises on social media, after his red card against USA in in Concacaf Nations League A action on 16 November 2023.

With the scoreline unchanged at the break, Eve adjusted again—as he replaced right side midfielder Ryan Telfer with the more combative Neveal Hackshaw, and braced himself for an American barrage.

USA got a penalty in the 59th minute, after Nation penalized Daniel Phillips for sliding in on McKennie—yes, him again! But, after a VAR review, the Jamaican official decided that the Trinidad and Tobago player got enough of the ball and reversed his call.

By then, the hosts had already managed two shots on target.

Trinidad and Tobago players (white shirts) defend against a USA set piece during CNL quarterfinal action at Austin, Texis on 16 November 2023.
Photo: TTFA Media

It was still goalless after 66 minutes and both coaches responded. Eve replaced his two remaining midfielders, Andre Rampersad and Phillips, with Jesse Williams and Kristian Lee-Him, while Garcia came in for Shaw.

But it was more a case of getting fresh legs to try and stay close to the US midfield technicians, rather than a genuine attempt to create a platform for Garcia to use his dynamic attacking ability.

Smith fended away a left-footed Dest rocket in the 73rd minute, although it was still a relatively straightforward save.

A Soca Warriors supporter gets behind his team during the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup in the USA.

Beyond rapid, vertical ball movement in the vain hope of identifying a dozing Trinidad and Tobago defender, the host team were offering little real threat. And the Warriors defenders were up for it, with left back Andre Raymond looking in fine form.

But, in the 81st minute, the Warriors finally cracked. Left back Antonee Robinson picked out substitute Ricardo Pepi with a cross and the PSV Eindhoven forward responded with a firm flick that Smith got a hand to but could not keep out.

As always, the “Stars and Stripes” attempted to mercilessly push home that advantage.

USA left back Antonee Robinson (#5) is congratulated by teammates after his goal against Trinidad and Tobago in Concacaf Nations League quarterfinal action on 16 November 2023 in Austin, Texas.

In the 85th minute, Robinson doubled their lead with a powerful shot from just outside the box after running to a headed clearance by Trinidad and Tobago defender Alvin Jones. And, in the 88th minute, Robinson picked out midfield playmaker Giovanni Reyna who worked a one-two pass with forward Folarin Balogun before beating Smith.

After a barren 80 minutes, USA now had three goals in seven minutes—and the tie was done.

For Berhalter, it was mission accomplished, albeit not in the manner that the hosts probably expected—after their 6-0 win over T&T at the July Gold Cup.

Trinidad and Tobago players pose before kickoff against USA in CNL quarterfinal action in Austin, Texas on 16 November 2023.
Photo: TTFA Media

Eve, on the other hand, could console himself with limiting the United States for 80 minutes, despite playing more than half of that time with a player short.

The final stats read: 26 shots for USA with eight on target, compared to one effort by the visitors which did not require a save from captain Matthew Turner. Once again, Eve cheated the odds.

On Monday, Trinidad and Tobago will presumably try to show offensive teeth as well.


Trinidad and Tobago (5-4-1): 22.Denzil Smith (GK); 14.Shannon Gomez, 16.Alvin Jones, 2.Aubrey David (captain), 17.Justin Garcia, 6.Andre Raymond; 7.Ryan Telfer (15.Neveal Hackshaw 46), 12.Daniel Phillips (23.Kristian Lee Him 66), 18.Andre Rampersad (4.Jesse Williams 66), 8.Noah Powder [Red card 36]; 9.Malcolm Shaw (11.Levi Garcia 66).

Unused substitutes: 19.Christopher Biggette (GK), 21.Rushon Sandy (GK), 3.Ross Russell Jr, 5.Michel-Poon Angeron, 9.Nathaniel James, 10.Real Gill, 13.Reon Moore, 20.Kaïlé Auvray.

Coach: Angus Eve

United States (4-3-3): 1.Matthew Turner (GK); 2.Sergino Dest, 3.Cameron Carter-Vickers, 13.Tim Ream (captain), 5.Antonee Robinson; 6.Yunus Musah, 8.Weston McKennie, 7.Giovanni Reyna; 17.Malik Tillman (9.Ricardo Pepi 66), 20.Folarin Balogun, 16.Kevin Paredes (11.Brenden Aaronson 66).

Unused substitutes: 18.Ethan Horvath (GK), 21.Gabriel Slonina (GK), 4.Christopher Richards, 10.Alejandro Zendejas, 12.Miles Robinson, 14.Luca De La Torre, 15.Paxten Aaronson, 19.Joseph Scally, 22.Lenny Maloney, 23.Kris Lund.

Coach: Gregg Berhalter

Referee: Oshane Nation (Jamaica)

Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Denzil Smith.
Photo: TTFA Media

2023 Concacaf Nations League result

(16 November 2023)

USA 3 (Ricardo Pepi 81, Antonee Robinson 85, Giovanni Reyna 88), Trinidad and Tobago 0 at Austin, Texas.

More from Wired868
Soca Warriors play Canada for Copa America spot, after Jamaica stun N/Americans

The Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team will play Canada for a spot in the 2024 Copa America tournament. Read more

Eve doesn’t regret defensive first leg approach; US coach slams Dest’s behaviour

Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team head coach Angus Eve had no regrets over his defensive approach in the Read more

Moore and Jones strike as Eve’s Warriors take big scalp, but USA march on

The Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team took their biggest scalp to date under head coach Angus Eve tonight, Read more

Eve: Red card changed our plan to attack USA, but T&T will play for win at home

Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team head coach Angus Eve promised to play for three points from 8pm on Read more

Levi returns! Eve announces 23-man T&T squad to face USA

Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team head coach Angus Eve confirmed the return of star attacker Levi Garcia for Read more

Justin Garcia, Jem Gordon snare top TTPFL prizes

Defence Force central defender Justin “Shiggy” Garcia was named the Player of the Season for the inaugural TT Premier Football Read more

About Editor

Check Also

Soca Warriors play Canada for Copa America spot, after Jamaica stun N/Americans

The Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team will play Canada for a spot in …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.