National coach Dennis Lawrence has made one obvious change in his team to face the United States in today’s crucial FIFA World Cup qualifier at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Balmain Couva, the new home of football in T&T.
Duane Muckette, the former national under 20 midfielder has come in for suspended Kevin Molino, and defender Mekeil Williams, who plays for the Colorado Rapids in the Major League Soccer has returned to his club because of an injury he joined the team with a few days ago. Apart from that the Soca Warriors will be represented by a fully fit and ready team tonight from 8 pm.
At a press conference at the Ato Boldon Stadium yesterday Lawrence has impressed on his charges the need to be much better on and off the ball, as it was this and lapses in concentration that cost them full three points against Mexico at the Estadio Alfonso Lastras in San Luis Potosi on Friday.
“It is very important that we put in a team performance if we are to get a result” Lawrence said.
In addition to major set-back in defence which the ex-national defender turn coach, promised they will be working on, he said another main concern he has is the ability of American midfielder Michael Bradley who can take over the midfield as it is what he does best, as well as attacking midfielder Christian Pulisic, who will hold the key to the US qualification.
“Pulisic is key to what the US are trying to achieve and he is one that we have to pay close attention to.
“If you look at the goal scoring ratio, he has scored most of the goals as well as Jozi Altidore and Bradley, but Pulisic, we will have pay close attention to him and try to manage it and keep him out of the game” Lawrence explained.
The TT team has struggled to play well consistently, as was evident against the Mexicans where it held the home team to a 1-0 advantage under high altitude conditions until the 79th minute, before receiving three unanswered goals in the space of 11 minutes to surrender maximum points.
Lawrence said though he took pride in the performance of the players early on, it was not the way to win football matches and called for an overall team performance to guard against some players, not having good games on a given day.
He gave the assurance his team would attempt to correct these defensive lapses tonight.
T&T look to upset USA.
T&T Newsday Reports.
Trinidad and Tobago and USA will meet in another World Cup qualifier, but unlike 1989, only USA can book a spot at the World Cup as T&T will simply aim for a consolation win after a dismal run of form recently.
The teams will square off at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva from 8 pm, tonight. In 1989 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain, T&T only needed a draw and USA required a win to qualify for the 1990 Italy World Cup. On that occasion USA edged T&T 1-0 to book a spot in Italy.
T&T are out of contention for the 2018 Russia World Cup, as they lie sixth and last with three points in the CONCACAF final round of qualifying. USA are third on 12 points and a win will seal qualification. If USA lose and Panama and Honduras win tonight, the Americans will miss the World Cup. Honduras will face Mexico in Honduras and Panama will play Costa Rica in Panama.
Lawrence said he is not concerned about spoiling USA’s chances of qualifying. Rather, he wants to see his team end the campaign on a high.
“Our motivation at the moment is for ourselves, we owe it to our country to ensure that we go out and perform at a certain level. I think the motivation behind it is we have to try and stop the (poor) run that we are on.”
The T&T coach plans to start building for the future and as a result some inexperienced players may feature tonight. “We need to start integrating some of the young players which we have done in the last squad. We still trying to encourage young players, but obviously the main thing is we need to go out and ensure that we put in a 110 percent performance to try and get a result.”
Lawrence said one of the keys to victory is stopping USA’s top players such as Christian Pulisic, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley.
T&T captain for today’s game, Khaleem Hyland, recalled the last match against Mexico which saw T&T go ahead 1-0 in the 2nd half only to lose 1-3. “It was a great performance for us defensively up until the 80th minute. One or two minor details or mistakes cost us the game and that is something we need to improve on but the effort is there as the team did everything they could against such opponents.”
He continued, “We want to stay focused and we know our situation as we prepare for the future. They (USA) have to come all out and try to get the victory and hopefully we can end the campaign on a good note by causing an upset.”