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