There will be no second-guessing when the T&T Soca Warriors take on the USA in an international friendly encounter from 8 pm on Sunday at the Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida, USA.
However, there is an expectation that coach Terry Fenwick is likely to use a counter-attacking strategy based on the players selected on his roster ahead of the match, said Angus Eve, a former national coach.
Eve told Guardian Media Sports on Saturday that he fully supports the decisions and choices by the English-born Fenwick, as coaches are prepared to live and die by the decisions they make.
However, he said that the Soca Warriors ranked 12th out 41 Concacaf nations, will face an uphill task coming up against a team they booted out of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
In the absence of the country's key overseas players, like Khaleem Hyland, Joevin Jones, Kevin Molino and Levia Garcia, all of who have said that they are unavailable for the encounter, Fenwick's side which is ranked 103 in the world, is made up of 10 defenders, inclusive of newcomers Federico Pena (Valour FC, Canada), who overlaps regularly down the flank. However, Michael DeShields (DC United, USA), who was expected to play a key defensive role in the match is unavailable because of injury.
Alvin Jones, the player who scored a thunderous right-footed shot from more than 20-yards out during the teams October 10, 2017, Russia 2018 World Cup Qualifying match that gave T&T a 2-1 upset victory at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Balmain Couva, is also in the team for today's contest.
"Most of the players selected are defenders so I would think he would probably play a counter-attacking game which I don't blame him because I probably would have done the same thing," Eve said.
Both teams are in a process of rebuilding with the World Cup Qualifiers, CONCACAF Gold Cup and CONCACAF Nations League tournaments which are right around the corner. T&T is set to open its World Cup campaign against Guyana on March 25. The USA team comprises players from their domestic competition with e couple of guest players, none of whom are marquee standouts.
Eve, a former national captain, explained that because he is unaware of the strengths and weaknesses of more than 80 per cent of the players on the T&T team, he is certain that Fenwick would have done a good job in his selection, having screened over 325 players to arrive at the squad he has chosen, saying, he would have assessed the situation and the team he is going up against before he chose the players he did.
Eve, the coach of Naparima College, said he is also hoping for a good performance and a good result this evening. When the team's last met on June 22 in 2019, the USA came away with a 6-0 win in the Gold Cup tournament in the USA.
The T&T team is expected to return home soon after the match for two more friendly encounters with regional opposition before their opening match against the Guyanese.
Notes: According to US head coach Greg Berhalter, Jozy Altidore will not take part in today's match due to picking up a minor strain. This is out of an abundance of caution, especially since an overseas transfer may be in the works. For Trinidad and Tobago, defender Michael DeShields who is coming off an injury will not join the squad for the match.
Fenwick wants to see how players cope under U.S pressure.
T&T Express Reports.
HEAD COACH of the senior men’s football team Terry Fenwick wants to see how his players handle the pressure of playing a big team when they take on the United States in Orlando this evening.
On the eve of their international friendly with the USA tonight, Fenwick said the decision to play the USA was a deliberate one, meant to force the players to step into the bright lights.
“We could have played Caribbean sides. We could have gone against a smaller team. But I want big focus because it is pressure, mental pressure for our players,” Fenwick told TTFA Media. “I want them to have that experience that knowledge that they have been in front of a crowd—there are four-and-a-half thousand people coming—it is live on television, so there are a lot of things that some of our players have not experienced yet. Again, if you don’t get that experience we can’t ask for anything of them.”
Fenwick seemed to set the expectation bar low, stating that the USA side is well ahead of the Soca Warriors because of their five to seven-year development programmes from the Under-17 level all the way through to the national senior team.
“Their average age is around 22, 23 so they have got very good players, players around Europe today so we can’t ignore,” Fenwick said. “We should recognise and understand the development process is working. They have done a great job, they are more than competitive. We in T&T have got to get on that same streamline. We have got to try and get that development programme. There is nothing as we speak so we have got to get that in place to give our kids a chance.”
Fenwick said the reception from USA Soccer has been first-class and so has been the way the opposition staff and players have accommodated them.
As for the game-plan tonight, Fenwick said he was delighted to get a “fusion” with USA-based players mixing with his locally-based squad.
“The game-plan is to bring them together as quickly as possible,” he said. “The preparation is not really long enough...These kids that we have got don’t get experience if you don’t give them opportunities and that is what this is, it is a big opportunity for the locally-based players and for the guys from the States on a big stage and against the USA to come and do some good for themselves.”
Fenwick conducted two sessions at the Omni Championsgate training pitch yesterday with 23 members of his squad and staff who all returned negative results in four PCR tests, one in Trinidad and three in Orlando since their arrival on Thursday night. However, DC United player Michael DeShields who is coming off an injury will not join the squad for the match.
And in some good news for local fans, the TTFA yesterday announced tonight’s game will be broadcast on local cable network channel WESN Content Capital from 8.25 p.m.
USA match is about experience — Fenwick.
By Walter Alibey (T&T Guardian).
With less than a month away from T&T's opening FIFA World Cup qualifying clash with Guyana, national coach Terry Fenwick will be hoping for a good result when his team takes on the might of the USA which is ranked 22nd in the world by FIFA, in an international friendly from 8:30 pm on Sunday at the Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida, USA.
The match will also be a key moment of learning for Fenwick's side which is ranked 103, and playing against the USA for the first time since the team's last met on June 22, 2019 when the USA defeated T&T 6-0 in a Gold Cup match. The English-born coach, in an interview on the eve of the match Sunday's match said he was anything but delighted as he has a fusion of players who haven't even met each other until now.
However, despite the magnitude of the encounter, it will provide the players with the opportunity to do so for the first time on Sunday. The young T&T team comprises just seven local and 16 foreign-based talents with T&T parentage, most of them only being seen via video footage.
The team's most experienced players are goalkeeper Marvin Phillip and Alvin Jones both of whom have been capped with 78 and 27 appearances respectively.
Among the players earning their first call up are 22-year-old US-born defender Michael DeShields, who was selected by D.C. United with the fifth overall pick in the Major League Soccer Superdraft last Thursday as the team's second pick in the first round but he has been injured out before joining the team which arrived in the US on Thursday.
Also earning a first call is Canadian-based midfielder and full-back Federico Pena of the Canadian Premier League club Valour FC. Pena appeared in six of Valour’s seven games at The Island Games in 2020, filling in at various and different roles due to several injuries to his teammates.
The team also had three Covid-19 tests, one in T&T on Tuesday and two in the US to date, and all came back negative, which gives the coach a full compliment to make his final selection which he will announce just be kick-off.
Despite the challenges, Fenwick opted for a match against a side that is 5-7 years of development ahead of his, as he believes it will provide mental toughness for his charges. "We could have opted to played Caribbean sides, we could have played smaller teams. I want a big focus because it's pressure, mental pressure for our players. I want them to have that experience, that knowledge that they've been in front of a crowd. It will be four and a half thousand people coming, it's live on television, so there're some things that our players haven't experienced yet," Fenwick explained.
The US which is second in Concacaf only to Mexico, the top-ranked team, will be led in attack by influential strikers Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC) and Chris Mueller (Orlando City), both of whom will provide experience to an otherwise inexperienced team which came from a list of 12 senior team players and 26 Under-23s who began training on January 9 at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, USA.
However, having been a part of a comprehensive development programme for the past five years, the Americans may be keen on exacting revenge on their T&T counterparts, who defeated them 2-1 at the Ato Boldon Stadium in a World Cup qualifier on October 10, 2017, which helped eliminated them for the 2018 tournament in Russia.
According to Fenwick, a former England World Cup player, whose team is ranked 12th out of 41 countries in Concacaf, "We have got to recognize that these guys are well in front of us. They have had 5-7 years development so they are very competitive at the under-17, under-20 and all their national teams have an average age of 22 to 23. so they've got very good players. They've got players all over Europe today and we can't ignore that. We, in T&T, have got to get on that same streamline, we have got to get that development programme in place."
Watch: Fenwick speaks on eve of International Friendly versus USA
Watch: Archer anticipates strong US showing in Orlando
Watch: Players Neveal Hackshaw, Sean Bonval, and Jonathan Jimenez klok ahead to the International Friendly against the United States