The Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Team will open its 2021 schedule with a friendly against United States on Jan. 31 at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Fla.
The match will serve as an important preparation opportunity for the rest of the year as the T&T Men’s Team will open its World Cup qualifying campaign at home to Guyana on March 25th while the US will contest the Concacaf Nations League Final Four in June, the Gold Cup in July and the start of 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying, which kicks off in September for the hosts.
The staging of the camp and the match fall under the comprehensive U.S. Soccer Return to Play Protocols. Due to the evolving conditions related to the global pandemic, capacity for the event will be limited to 4,500 fans according to US Soccer.
T&T Head Coach Terry Fenwick
“Obviously this is a big step forward. I want to kickstart football here in Trinidad and Tobago again and by playing a game against a team of the magnitude of the USA that have got players all over the world now, they’re battering teams within our region… It’s a big step forward. Maybe too early for us but I wanted to take this on so it’s get us as an organization in line, moving forward because obviously we have got World Cup qualifiers coming up at the end of March,” Fenwick told TTFA Media on Tuesday following a training session at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
“I think the players and everyone else, we need to be operating on a different level. That’s what I am trying to endorse across the board with my players and staff. It’s going to present us with a good chance to have a look at a few players and give ourselves a solid test against a team such as the USA.”
More information on the composition of the T&T squad will be relayed over the coming days.
SAFETY PROTOCOLS AND GUIDELINES | COVID-19 WARNING
At the MNT vs. Trinidad & Tobago match, fans will be required to wear face coverings at all times while on stadium premises except while actively eating or drinking. A socially distanced stadium seating manifest has been designed to keep fans in place and within their own parties of four or less, which also includes the following protocols:
- Adequate spacing between the field of play and ticket purchasers has been arranged;
- Each occupied row will have a maximum of two parties (each comprised of four or fewer people), allowing each party to access the aisle closest to its seats without stepping over another party;
- Every party will have at least six feet of space between it and other parties;
- Tickets will not be issued for the first two seats closest to the aisle;
- Reserved seating only, general admission will not be allowed;
- Mobile-only tickets
Concession stands will have cashless payment. No bags, including clear bags, will be allowed. Ticket holders will have a preferred gate to enter the stadium based on their ticket location.
Orlando is hosting the first friendly encounter between the teams since 1994. Overall, the United States holds a 19-3-4 record in the series dating back to 1982. In the last meeting, the USMNT recorded its largest ever margin of victory against Trinidad & Tobago with a 6-0 victory before 23,921 at FirstEnergy Stadium to book a spot in the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup Quarterfinals.
Trinidad and Tobago’s has had two competitive wins over the US, with the first coming in 2010 World Cup qualifying when T&T came out 2-1 winners in a CONCACAF Semi-final round clash at the Hasely Crawford Stadium through second half goals by Russell Latapy and Dwight Yorke. T&T then completed a 2-1 win in October of 2017 in the final World Cup qualifying match at the Ato Boldon Stadium with Alvin Jones scoring a first half winner.
This will be the USA’s seventh visit to Orlando and the fourth since the opening of Exploria Stadium. In the most recent visit on Nov 15, 2019, Gyasi Zardes grabbed a brace, Jordan Morris tallied a goal and an assist while Aaron Long also scored in the comprehensive 4-1 win victory against Canada. With the win, head coach Gregg Berhalter became the second-fastest coach in USMNT history to reach 10 wins.
Soca Warriors land US friendly in Orlando, Fenwick: ‘a big step forward!’
Soca Warriors head coach Terry Fenwick hailed ‘a big step forward’ for his tenure today, as the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) confirmed a friendly international against the United States on 31 January at the Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida.
The game falls outside the Fifa international match window and neither team will be able to summon players from active clubs in Europe. However, Fenwick and USA coach Gregg Berhalter would hope to use United States-based players, who are in their off-season.
“Obviously this is a big step forward,” Fenwick told the TTFA Media. “I want to kickstart football here in Trinidad and Tobago again and by playing a game against a team of the magnitude of the USA that have got players all over the world now [and are] battering teams within our region.
“[…] Maybe [this game is] too early for us but I wanted to take this on so it gets us in line as an organisation moving forward, because obviously we have got World Cup qualifiers coming up at the end of March.”
Fenwick restarted training today with a 23-man squad. He is expected to invite some more players to join the team before the US contest, with MLS stars Kevin Molino and Joevin Jones likely to be in contention.
Molino recently swapped clubs, as he left Western Conference runners-up, Minnesota United, for MLS champions and Eastern Conference winners, Columbus Crew SC.
The TTFA promised to give more information on the eventual squad to face the US in the coming days.
“I think the players and everyone else, we need to be operating on a different level,” said Fenwick. “That’s what I am trying to endorse across the board with my players and staff. It’s going to present us with a good chance to have a look at a few players and give ourselves a solid test against a team such as the USA.”
Florida governor Ron DeSantis has rejected calls for Covid-19 restrictions in his state and the visiting Warriors will find Orlando almost entirely open for business, with even the wearing of masks not mandatory on the streets.
Fans will also be allowed into the stadium.
However, the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) said it will enforce its own ‘return to play protocols’, which includes:
• Adequate spacing between the field of play and ticket purchasers;
• A maximum of two parties (each comprised of four or fewer people) per row, thereby allowing each party to access the aisle closest to its seats without stepping over another party;
• At least six feet of space between every party and other parties;
• Ensuring that first two seats closest to the aisle are empty;
• Reserved seating only, with general admission not allowed;
A limit of 4,500 fans at the venue.
Fans are required to wear face coverings at all times while on stadium premises, except while actively eating or drinking.
Berhalter described the Trinidad and Tobago contest as a good opportunity for his local-based players to stake a case for competitive action, after a team camp.
“It’s nice after an intensive training camp to get to compete,” Berhalter said. “The guys have been working hard and we welcome the opportunity to play against a regional rival like Trinidad and Tobago.”
The outing is Fenwick’s first international contest, despite being hired in December 2019. Last year, the Warriors were due to face Canada in friendlies on 27 and 30 March, only for the games to be cancelled as the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
The United States and Trinidad and Tobago have not faced each other in a friendly since 1994, when the ‘Yanks’ won 1-0 in Port of Spain.
USA also won three of its last four encounters with the Warriors, at an aggregate of 12-0. And, at the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup, they whipped the twin island republic 6-0 in a record scoreline between the two nations.
Still, Trinidad and Tobago can celebrate famously ended the North American team’s Russia 2018 World Cup bid with a 2-1 win in Couva on 10 October 2017, when right back Alvin Jones opened the scoring with a 30-yard screamer.
Jones was one of 23 players who trained with the national team today.
Cyrus, ‘Lobo’, Gomez and Griffith III named in 23-man Soca Warriors training squad
Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team head coach Terry Fenwick restarted training today with arguably his most seasoned group of players yet, as the Soca Warriors continue preparation for the Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifying series.
Twelve from his 23 players were already capped at senior international level, while four players—goalkeepers Marvin Phillip and Adrian Foncette, defender Daneil Cyrus, and full back Alvin Jones—featured prominently in T&T’s unsuccessful Russia 2018 World Cup bid.
Enigmatic 29-year-old India-based attacker and 2009 Under-20 World Cup player Marcus ‘Lobo’ Joseph was also named in the current training squad.
The bulk of Fenwick’s roster look to be in their mid-20s with 14 of them already benefitting from some level of overseas exposure at club level. Most of the overseas-based players in the current squad are in their off-season.
Former National Under-20 Team captain Shannon Gomez, who is 24-years-old, is included and would hope to finally secure a regular spot at the senior level, after leading the ‘red, black and white’ to the 2014 Caribbean Under-20 Championship title—which is the last trophy secured by a national men’s team.
Gomez, who plays in the US second tier with Sacramento Republic, has just two senior international caps, with both earned under former head coach Stephen Hart. He joins former youth team colleagues Josiah Trimmingham, Matthew Woo Ling, Duane Muckette and Jabari Mitchell in the training squad.
After starting his programme last July with almost two dozen trainees below the age of 24, only five remain in Fenwick’s reckoning at present: Police FC midfielder Jabari Mitchell (23), W Connection goalkeeper Denzil Smith (21), former St Mary’s College playmaker Michel Poon-Angeron (19), and the duo of Jesse Williams (19) and Gary Griffith III (18), who recently joined top Northern Ireland club, Coleraine FC.
Griffith III, the son of Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith II, and Williams are said to be awaiting work permits.
The Warriors have been unable to book an international practice game since Fenwick’s hiring in December 2019—primarily due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, although they did miss two international match windows during their seven-week Fifa suspension last year.
The Warriors have used their time otherwise pummelling makeshift teams across the country in games officiated by Fenwick and played against teams that are unable to train due to the current novel coronavirus regulations.
The former England World Cup defender has publicly pleaded with Fifa-appointed normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad for international match practice before their opening qualifier against Guyana on 25 March.
The Warriors, under Fenwick, are believed to favour a 4-3-3 formation, with a narrow front three, and a workmanlike midfield that focuses on fast rotation of the ball.
Fenwick is expected to name a squad comprising almost entirely of foreign-based players to start his Qatar adventure, particularly with the local leagues still dormant. However, a couple proper warm-up matches—even outside the Fifa window—would allow his local based-players to stake a serious claim for selection.
Trinidad and Tobago Training Squad
Goalkeepers (3): Marvin Phillip, Adrian Foncette, Denzil Smith;
Defenders (9): Alvin Jones, Shannon Gomez, Justin Garcia, Jamal Jack, Daniel Cyrus, Jesse Williams, Josiah Trimmingham, Jelani Peters, Triston Hodge;
Midfielders (5): Michel Poon-Angeron, Matthew Woo Ling, Duane Muckette, Justin Sadoo, Jabari Mitchell;
Attackers (6): Hashim Arcia, Gary Griffith III, Sean Bonval, Shackiel Henry, Brent Sam, Marcus Joseph.
United States Training Squad (Club, Caps/Goals)
Goalkeepers (3): Matt Freese (Philadelphia Union; 0/0), JT Marcinkowski (San Jose Earthquakes; 0/0), Matt Turner (New England Revolution; 0/0);
Defenders (9): Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy; 1/0), George Bello (Atlanta United FC; 0/0), Kyle Duncan (New York Red Bulls; 1/0), Aaron Herrera (Real Salt Lake; 0/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 18/3), Mauricio Pineda (Chicago Fire FC; 0/0), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United FC; 2/0), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids; 2/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 13/2);
Midfielders (7): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 24/2), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 17/4), Benji Michel (Orlando City SC; 0/0), Andrés Perea (Orlando City SC; 0/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 19/0), Tanner Tessmann (FC Dallas; 0/0), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes; 8/0);
Attackers (6): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC/CAN; 115/42), Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 34/6), Daryl Dike (Orlando City SC; 0/0), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas; 1/0), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids; 6/0), Chris Mueller (Orlando City SC; 1/2).