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Sat, Sep

Trinidad and Tobago’s Levi Garcia (#11) battles for the ball with Panama’s Harold Cummings (left) during the first half of Tuesday’s match. (AP PHOTO)
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There are calls for na­tion­al foot­ball coach Den­nis Lawrence to ei­ther scrap his in­ten­tions to play pos­ses­sion-foot­ball or get in­stru­men­tal mid­field­er Kevin Moli­no more in­volved in at­tack if the So­ca War­riors are to ad­vance out of the group phase of the CON­CA­CAF Gold Cup in the Unit­ed States.

These calls came from coach­es Travis Mul­raine and Ron La For­rest, both of whom are dis­sat­is­fied with the strat­e­gy used by Lawrence in the open­ing 0-2 loss against Pana­ma at the Al­lianz Field in Min­neso­ta on Tues­day night. Both qual­i­fied coach­es agreed that there was a non-ex­is­tent mid­field when the de­fend­ers at­tempt­ed to tran­si­tion from the de­fen­sive third to the mid­field area with the ball.

Mul­raine, a high­ly qual­i­fied coach who has plied his trade at the Sec­ondary Schools and Su­per League lev­els, be­lieves Lawrence just does not have the play­ers to play such a sys­tem. "I think we need to be re­al­is­tic and use our strength, which is speed in at­tack. Be­cause of this, we should con­sid­er play­ing a counter-at­tack­ing game from a 5:3:2 sys­tem, where Levi Gar­cia, Nathan Lewis, Jo­evin Jones or any oth­er at­tack­er can use their speed to get away on the counter-at­tack."

Ac­cord­ing to Mul­raine, "Dur­ing the cur­rent for­mat and play­ing-style, there is no mo­bil­i­ty in the mid­field. This pre­vent­ed the at­tack­ers from get­ting ser­vice of the ball to the goal. I think if we con­tin­ue to play the pos­ses­sion-game, we could find our­selves at the end of a thrash­ing against the Unit­ed States to­mor­row."

La For­rest, on the oth­er hand, be­lieves Moli­no will be key, for the So­ca War­riors to progress. "Lawrence has been try­ing his best, but his strat­e­gy can­not work if the at­tack­ing mid­field­ers are un­able to re­ceive the ball and dis­trib­ute to the strik­ers. Moli­no was no-way to be found when the ball en­tered the mid­field area, and there­fore the Pana­ma­ni­ans were con­stant­ly win­ning the ball and mov­ing in­to quick at­tacks."

He added, "We have a good at­tack­ing force, which we saw it any­time Gar­cia picked up the ball and ran at the de­fence, or any­time Jo­evin Jones touched the ball. But Moli­no could not be found and they could not get the ser­vice they need­ed."

"In ad­di­tion, most of the times the T&T strik­ers were too far away from each oth­er, but gen­er­al­ly, there was no one to con­trol the game for T&T," La For­rest ex­plained.

The So­ca War­riors will next face the USA to­mor­row in group D. They are cur­rent­ly third in the group fol­low­ing their 0-2 loss, cou­pled with Guyana's 0-4 de­feat by the host. With two teams ad­vanc­ing from the group, the War­riors need at least a point from the en­counter, as their match-up with Guyana on Wednes­day is be­ing seen as three points in the bag.

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The Soca Warriors, led by Kevin Molino, look to bounce back from their loss to Panama.
By Alex Showell (starsandstripesfc)


Scouting T&T

The United States Men’s National Team looks to build on its performance against Guyana, as it takes on Trinidad & Tobago on Saturday, June 22, in Cleveland, Ohio.

T&T enter the match in desperate need of points, after losing their opening Gold Cup game 2-0 to Panama. The Soca Warriors have been in poor form recently, with a 0-4-1 record in their last five games.

T&T holds a 3-18-4 all-time record against the USMNT; however the last time the two teams met T&T famously won 1-0, ending the USMNT’s 2018 World Cup qualification dreams.

Trinidad & Tobago Roster:

Goalkeepers (3): Adrian Foncette (Police FC/TRI; 11/0 (caps/goals)), Marvin Phillip (Central FC/TRI; 67/0), Gregory Ranjitsingh (Orlando City SC/USA; 0/0)

Defenders (6): Daneil Cyrus (Al-Orobah FC/SAU; 75/0), Aubrey David (Saprissa/CRI; 43/1), Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force/TRI; 28/0), Alvin Jones (Oklahoma City Energy/USA; 14/1), Carlyle Mitchell (St Ann’s Rangers/TRI; 35/2), Mekeil Williams (Oklahoma City Energy/USA; 22/1)

Midfielders (12): Cordell Cato (Oklahoma City Energy/USA; 28/2), Levi Garci­a (Ironi Kiryat Shmona/ISR; 16/2), Kevan George (Charlotte Independence/USA; 42/0), Neveal Hackshaw (Indy Eleven/USA; 9/0), Akeem Humphrey (Club Sando/TRI; 1/0), Khaleem Hyland (Faisaly/SAU; 80/4), Joevin Jones (Seattle Sounder/USA; 71/8), Nathan Lewis (Lansing Ignite/USA; 20/2), Kevin Molino (Minnesota United/USA; 42/18), Duane Muckette (Memphis 901 FC/USA; 1/0), Leston Paul (Memphis 901 FC/USA; 17/0), Jamal Williams (W Connection FC/TRI; 12/2)

Strikers (2): Lester Peltier (Al-Orobah FC/SAU; 38/6), Shahdon Winchester (W Connection FC; 23/5)

Coach Dennis Lawrence typically deploys a 4-5-1. Expect his starting XI to be similar to the one used against Panama. The Soca Warriors will likely play defensively and look to catch the USMNT on the counter.

Marvin Phillip is the clear #1 and is a solid shot stopper, with quick reflexes. He played well in the 2-0 loss against Panama and will to need to have a similar performance.

Expect Daneil Cyrus and Aubrey David to feature as centerbacks. The 6’3” Cyrus is dominant in the air and an excellent tackler. However, he struggles with his positioning and often looks to dribble after winning tackles when he would be better off passing.

David is also 6’3” and similarly dominant in the air. David is far stronger, yet slower and worse on the ball than Cyrus.

Mekeil Williams will likely get the nod at left back. Williams is a good passer and excels at intercepting passes. His greatest flaws are his subpar crossing and tendency to overcommit to tackles.

Look for Alvin Jones to get the nod at right back. Jones, the younger brother of Joevin Jones, is a solid crosser of the ball and is a surprisingly dangerous scoring threat from distance. While he is quite gifted offensively, for a defender, his 1 v. 1 defending is poor and he often finds himself out of position due to joining the attack.

Khaleem Hyland should feature as a defensive midfielder. Hyland is a hard-tackler, with decent dribbling ability, and a powerful shot. However, he is slow as molasses and has a rather limited passing range.

Expect Kevin Molino and Kevan George to feature as central midfielders. Molino will likely play as a #10, in front of George.

Molino is the most talented attacking player on this roster and is a pin-point passer. He is also a good crosser but puts in little defensive effort. It’s unclear if he’ll be at his best, as he just returned from an ACL tear in May.

George will likely drop into defensive midfield where his excellent positioning and exceptional skill at intercepting passes will be useful. His primary flaws are that he receives too many cards and offers nothing offensively.

Look for Joevin Jones to earn the nod at left midfield. Jones is lightning fast, a solid crosser, and a good 1 v. 1 defender. While talented, he is very inconsistent and is a rather poor finisher.

Nathan Lewis has a good chance to start at right midfield. Lewis was T&T’s most dangerous attacker against Panama and is a crafty dribbler who makes dangerous runs. However, his finishing is shockingly poor.

While normally a left winger, Levi Garcia will likely continue to feature as the Soca Warrior’s lone striker. Garcia is an excellent set-piece taker and talented dribbler, but he loses the ball far too easily due to his lack of strength and is a poor passer.