It was 28 years ago that the American football team turned a sea of red shirts at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo into a river of tears, after a hurtful 1-0 win prevented what seem a certain passage to the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy for T&T’s Strike Squad which at the time needed just a draw.
Heartbroken players and fans struggled to cope with this memory any time a TT/USA encounter appeared at any competition.
But on Tuesday night at the new home of football at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Balmain Couva, this ghost was finally put to rest, not only because of an impressive 2-1 win by the Soca Warriors over the USA, but because the victory prevented the CONCACAF giants from qualifying for the world cup for the first time since 1986.
The US football fraternity has since struggled to cope with this loss, as one commentator described it as a catastrophe. Strike Squad coach Everald ‘Gally Cummings and midfielder Hutson ‘Barber’ Charles refused to joined the euphoria and instead called for a serious development programme to be introduced by the T&T Football Association.
Both expressed satisfaction with the result but preferred the implementation of a system that would prevent TT from finishing bottom of the standing, as it did in spite of the win.
In a confident showing in front a bare crowd in Couva, T&T snatched the lead when striker Shahdon Winchester got the slightest of touches to direct a right-side Alvin Jones cross past US goalkeeper Tim Howard for the lead in the 17th minute.
But it was Jones’ thunderous right footer from some 30 yards out that confined the US to fifth on the standing with 12 points, as their nearest rivals Panama and Honduras won their respective encounters against Costa Rica and Mexico respectively.
The ex national coach and his player said they were happy for the win in the midst of a failed campaign, but believe the sport had made very little strides since the famous November 19 match.
“What we should focus on now is our position in the CONCACAF region and our achievements in the Caribbean over the past few years.
“We finish bottom of the table in the campaign and after 28 years in which so much has happened, still we are in need of improvement” Cummings said.
He joined with Charles in calling for coach Dennis Lawrence to build his team from home here in T&T, saying the core of the team should be based here in T&T and only include international players who could add value to it for key tournaments.
This team, they believe, should focus on dominating regional football as it did in the past first, before it can consider Concacaf achievements.
According to Cummings, authorities should consider selecting an all-local staff that consists of knowledgeable coaches who are aware of the type of football that will be best suited to the country, as well as a technical committee to critically analyse matches.
Charles called on Lawrence to make use of all the FIFA breaks by having international friendly games and urged the TTFA to support him in this venture.