Sat, Jun

Dad, I did it: Strike Squad member’s son scores revenge on US.

Alvin Jones has paid tribute to the 1989 Strike Squad team, in which his father Kelvin was a member, after he played a key role in Trinidad and Tobago football team’s 2-1 victory over the United States in their 2018 FIFA World Cup CONCACAF Zone Final Round qualifier at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva.

After US defender Omar Gonzalez scored an own goal after 16 minutes of action, Jones unleashed a thunderous 40-yard shot, in the 37th minute, to gave the hosts a 2-0 halftime lead. Teenaged US midfielder Christian Pulisic netted in the 47th but the Dennis Lawrence-coached TT outfit held firm until the final whistle.

That result ended the United States’ hopes of reaching the 2018 World Cup in Russia and, on the flip side, earned a measure of revenge. The Strike Squad, on November 19 1989, were beaten 1-0 by the United States, at the then National Stadium (now Hasely Crawford Stadium) in Mucurapo to qualify for the 1990 World Cup in Italy – at the expense of the Strike Squad.

Jones said that Tuesday’s victory will serve as sweet redemption of the ghost of 1989.

“Yeah, I think it was,” he said, during a telephone interview yesterday. “From (1989) it was something that they lived (with) for the rest of their lives, getting knocked out. And I think that (Tuesday) we displayed as a team that finally, after so many years, they’ll put this to bed, they can live comfortable now and I think that the Strike Squad got justice.

“I’m happy for them, I’m happy for the players and also I’m happy for our team.”

Jones’ right-footed blast, which flew past the outstretched right hand of goalkeeper Tim Howard, will live long in the memory of the minds of the estimated 3,500 fans in attendance, as well as the millions who watched the game live, both on television and via online streams.

Asked how he felt when he scored, Jones replied, “Words can’t explain. If you know me, that’s one of my strengths, to kick the ball. I just gave it a try and it finally paid off.”

Was he surprised that he had no challenge from any US player before he took that kick? “I think the system they started off playing was the diamond in the middle,” he replied. “So we had plenty room on the flanks so they were giving me the opportunity to push high into the midfield. So that’s how I got the opportunity to shoot.”

Jones also had a chance to score from a freekick in the 44th minute which was fumbled by Howard.

“That’s a strength I have also,” said the 23-year-old, who is the younger brother of midfielder Joevin. “I had scored from 30 yards so I said that my confidence is high. The freekick that we (got) I wanted to take it because my confidence was high and I (thought) that Tim Howard’s own was low from that goal. So I just made use of the opportunity.”

The W Connection defender is keeping his fingers crossed that he can earn an overseas contract in the immediate future.

“I didn’t get any (offers as) yet. It was only (on Tuesday). But I’m hoping that something happens.”

He added, “The whole world watched it. It’s just not about the goal. I think my performance was one of the best on the day. I’m just hoping that one or two clubs come behind me. Hopefully my club and their club can agree to some kind of contract, and I can take it.”