Despite a battling performance in their second Group A match of the CONCACAF Gold Cup at the Toyota Stadium in Texas on Wednesday night, the T&T Soca Warriors went down 2-0 to the in-form El Salvador and faces not qualifying to the next round of the tournament with one more match to go.
With the result, the Warriors, with just a point from their opening match against Mexico on Saturday, will have to beat Guatemala when the teams meet on Sunday, and hope that the Mexicans lose against El Salvador.
The mathematics in the group show that the El Salvadorians are through to the next round with six points, while Mexico were expected to move to four points in second position in the group, if they triumph over Guatemala, also on Wednesday night.
A defeat for Mexico and a win for T&T in their final matches on Sunday will leave both teams on four points, meaning goal difference will decide on who the second other team to advance from the group will be. Guatemala, on the other hand would only reach three points following losses in their first two matches against El Salvador and now Mexico.
All that, however, could change if Guatemala were able to defeat Mexico.
On Wednesday night, national coach Angus Eve opted to make more than five changes to the team that played against Mexico, as he went after maximum points in the encounter, but El Salvador took early control, particularly in the midfield which masterminded the possession game they enjoyed for most of the evening. And from it came chances aplenty.
T&T too enjoyed periods of little possession in attack but it was the defence that was kept busy all night. In the 26th minute, goalkeeper Nicklas Frenderup spoiled early celebrations for the Central Americans as Jairo Henriquez was set loose on the right side and his centre was met sweetly with a one-time effort from inside the area, but somehow Frenderup, though positioned behind at least two defenders, still saw it quick enough to push it wide.
Frenderup’s troubles were far from over, as the El Salvadorians mounted another sweeping attack down the right flank. But this time they stringed one to Henriquez on top the area. The talented Henriquez first turned skilfully to avoid a challenge of Neveal Hackshaw, and with a slim sight at goal he hit hard and low, beyond the grasp of the T&T custodian for a 1-0 advantage.
T&T sought to settle thereafter by stringing more than five passes together in a display of growing confidence. However, defender Alvin Jones in a period lapse in concentration, gifted the ball to Henriquez in the 46th minute, and it was Frenderup’s acrobatics between the post that prevented the Central Americans from going to the half time interval with a 2-0 lead.
Thereafter, Eve sought to intensify his attack for the equaliser, bringing in striker Marcus Joseph for midfielder Duane Muckette. And it almost reaped dividends in the 66th minute when a speedy Reon Moore stormed down the left flank and his centre found Joseph, who was put off by the onrushing Mario Gonzalez in the El Salvador, to deflect Joseph’s effort against the crossbar before it went to safety.
Later, Moore in the 70th minute got a sight on goal from out wide right, and his thunderous drive from some 30 yards out, was pushed wide by Gonzalez.
El Salvador, for the first time was pegged back from the battling Warriors, who were seeing the writing on the wall. But their fight was all in vain when El Salvador sealed the win in the 90th minute.
From another right-side build-up substitute Amando Moreno unleashed a powerful grounder that eased through the grasp of Frenderup and on to the upright and Walmer Martinez swooped in to fire in the loose ball for the 2-0 victory.
Trinidad and Tobago (5-3-2): 21.Nicklas Frenderup (GK); 16.Alvin Jones, 2.Aubrey David, 8.Mekeil Williams, 4.Jelani Peters (13.Reon Moore 46), 18.Triston Hodge (14.Andre Fortune II 16); 20.Duane Muckette (9.Marcus Joseph 46), 15.Neveal Hackshaw, 11.Noah Powder; 7.Ryan Telfer (3.Hashim Arcia 76), 10.Kevin Molino (captain).
Unused substitutes: 1.Marvin Phillip (GK), 22.Adrian Foncette (GK), 5.Curtis Gonzales, 6.Radanfah Abu Bakr, 12.Isaiah Lee, 17.Justin Garcia, 19.Ross Russell Jr, 23.Jesse Williams.
Coach: Angus Eve
El Salvador (4-1-4-1): 1.Mario Gonzales (GK), 21.Bryan Tamacas (9.Walmer Martinez 88), 4.Eriq Zavaleta, 5.Ronald Gomez, 13.Alexander Larin; 6.Narcisco Orellana; 8.Joshua Perez (11.Juan Portillo 59), 12.Marvin Monterroza (captain) (10.Amando Moreno 59), 7.Darwin Ceren (20.Isaac Portillo 83), 17.Jairo Henriquez (15.Alexander Roldan 68), 14.Joaquin Rivas (23.Marvin Marquez 82).
Unused substitutes: 18.Oscar Pleitez (GK), 22.Kevin Carabantes (GK), 2.Julio Sibrian, 3.Roberto Dominguez, 19.Alexis Montes.
Coach: Hugo Perez
Watch Highlights: Trinidad Tobago 0-2 El Salvador - Gold Cup 2021
Concacaf Gold Cup Group A Results
Trinidad and Tobago 0, El Salvador 2 (Jairo Henriquez 30, Walmer Martinez 90) at Toyota Stadium, Frisco;
Guatemala 0, Mexico 3 (Rogelio Funes Mori 29, 55, Orbelin Pineda 79) at Cotton Bowl, Dallas.