Wed, Oct


Keon Daniel #17With the final round of CONCACAF qualifying kicking off in February, in the coming weeks, will take a look at the six remaining teams in reverse order of their projected finish. Up second: U.S. semifinal round compadre, Trinidad and Tobago.

How The Team Got Here
After squeezing by 3-2 on aggregate against a feisty Bermuda side that took the first match 2-1, Trinidad and Tobago -- coming off its first-ever World Cup appearance in 2006 -- found itself in a semifinal round group with the United States, Guatemala, and Cuba. While many expected Los Chapines to emerge from Group A along with the Bob Bradley's team, manager Francisco Maturana's side consistently outperformed its Central American rival. Bolstered by an excellent day on October 15 that saw a 2-0 win over an already-qualified U.S. squad in Port of Spain and Cuba's surprise defeat of Guatemala, the Soca Warriors secured a spot in the Hexagonal with a second-place finish.

Wednesday 11 February
El Salvador-Trinidad and Tobago

Saturday 28 March
Trinidad and Tobago-Honduras

Wednesday 1 April
USA-Trinidad and Tobago

Saturday 6 June
Trinidad and Tobago-Costa Rica

Wednesday 10 June
Mexico-Trinidad and Tobago

Wednesday 12 August
Trinidad and Tobago-El Salvador

Saturday 5 September
Honduras-Trinidad and Tobago

Wednesday 9 September
Trinidad and Tobago-USA

Saturday 10 October
Costa Rica-Trinidad and Tobago

Wednesday 14 October
Trinidad and Tobago-Mexico

Key matches
The Soca Warriors finish up the Hexagonal with four brutally difficult matches (CR, Honduras on the road, U.S. and Mexico at home), and the club can't expect more than a couple points from those games. If T&T makes a case for advancement, it will come early. In all likelihood, its second and fourth matches -- home against Honduras (March 28) and Costa Rica (June 6) -- will determine the team's fate. Six points here, combined with a hopeful three points in its first fixture against El Salvador, gives Maturana's side nine on four games and an outside shot at third or fourth. Stumble even once, however, and the battle for South Africa has been lost almost before it's begun.

Players to Watch

Dwight Yorke
T&T's 38-year-old captain found the fountain of youth, tallying against the U.S. in October. Along with Russell Latapy, who's two years his senior, Yorke's experience helps keep this young team focused on each match, an approach that will be essential if the Soca Warriors have any designs of advancing. As his legs weaken and his skills erode -- they have to at some point, right? -- Yorke will rely more and more upon his years of training and cagey veteran tactics. In what should be his last go-round, it remains to be seen whether the farewell tour will turn sweet.

Keon Daniel

The lightning quick midfielder represents the future for T&T. The 21-year-old helped his side start off the semifinal round with a win, finding the back of the net twice against Cuba in the opening match. He also scored what should have been the game winner in the team's next match, a heart-breaking tie versus Guatemala, and put another past Cuba on matchday six. Daniel will have to raise his game against CONCACAF's big boys, however, as he's yet to show he can compete consistently against the region's toughest squads.

Cornell Glen
Many players on the American team will be familiar with Glen who played on three Major League Soccer teams between 2004 and 2006. He drew praise internationally after a strong performance in three matches during the Germany World Cup. Unfortunately, Glen was injured in the team's final game against Paraguay and has struggled to return to form during the past two years. While he did score his squad's third goal against Cuba in the opening match of the semifinal round, it remains to be seen how effective he will be in the Hex. Without him, T&T's road gets much more difficult.   

Should the U.S. be worried?
With all due respect to T&T's well-earned victory over the Red, White, and Blue in the semifinal round, not really. As the 3-0 dispatching in Chicago showed, the Soca Warriors are no match for Bradley's squad on its home turf. Since the second match comes late in the final round -- matchday eight -- T&T could catch another break and play an already-qualified American team. The more likely scenario, however, is that U.S. can secure a spot in the World Cup with a win in Port of Spain, a task it will achieve.

Projected Hex finish