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“Be proud of this special group,” Ben Waldrum, stated via Twitter, just before Trinidad and Tobago’s women football team flew off to Chicago from Kansas City.

Functioning as T&T’s assistant coach, the son of head-coach Randy Waldrum, made the remarks immediately after T&T held world’s No.1 USA to only one goal, in a one-nil loss on Wednesday night in Kansas City, in their opening match of World Cup qualifying.

Right after the match, the Soca Princesses left for the airport and arrived in Chicago at 2 a.m. (yesterday), before checking in at the Marriot Midway. T&T was due to have its only training session in Chicago at 4.30 p.m. yesterday, before facing Haiti today (6 p.m. T&T time) in an all-important second Group A match.

Trinidad and Tobago’s result against the mighty US constitute something of an upset, considering that the No 1-ranked Americans are unbeaten in 88 matches at home, and have handed down 8-0 whippings to both Russia and Mexico, earlier this year.

The Soca Princesses were defensively well organised and Tobago-born goalkeeper Kamika Forbes put in a heroic performance, keeping T&T in the match with 11 saves. The Americans attacked often, but were stopped by either bunkered T&T defenders, or the outstanding Forbes between the uprights.

Watching on, former T&T goalkeeper Shaka Hislop, tweeted: “A fine Shaka Hislop impression by Trinidad & Tobago goalkeeper Kimika Forbes.” Despite the loss, the close score very likely puts Trinidad and Tobago in the driver’s seat if second place in the group comes down to goal difference. It also gives them confidence going into today’s all important match against Haiti.

“Everyone came out with that positive mindset. We said we going all or nothing.... everyone is going to give until the can’t give no more,” T&T goalkeeper Forbes said. “I was one of the leaders on the team and they needed me badly. So, I kept positive energy and the team feed off of my positive energy.”

“I must admit this is one of the biggest games I have played and first time against the US national team,” Forbes continued. “This comes like a win to us, against the US, the might giants of Concacaf. It is very positive for us going into the next two games. We had a positive result coming out of this game. The next game we have a different approach, a different game plan. We not going to go with the same game plan that we had for the US.”

Christine Rampone, US national team captain, said: “I think Trinidad and Tobago did an awesome job. The keeper did an excellent job. They disrupted us, we didn’t get into the flow, the tempo, but we had a couple of other games to go."

“We had scouted them. We knew they were athletic and quick. They got a lot of numbers behind the ball, they played five back which makes it difficult,” continued Rampone, who was not surprised how well the Soca Princesses played.

“I’m not surprised. It actually exciting and encouraging to see that Concacaf is growing. They put on a good performance and (we) only won one nothing. It’s (Concacaf standard) is growing and that a credit to soccer.”

Tough clash ...but T&T coach believes Soca Princesses can prevail over Haitians

Trinidad and Tobago head coach Randy Waldrum expects this evening’s FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifying match against Haiti to be a gruelling encounter. But, he believes this country has what it takes to pull off the result which will keep them alive in their bid to qualify for the next year’s World Cup, to be played in Canada.

T&T women play Haiti from 6 p.m. (T&T time) in Chicago, Illinois, in their second Group A match of the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship. Third behind Trinidad and Tobago at the Caribbean Championship, held in T&T just over a month ago, Haiti have everything to play for.

Unlikely to get anything out of their final match against the powerful US, and having already beaten the weakest team Guatemala (1-0)on Wednesday night, Haiti will only be in good position to advance out of the group with a positive result against T&T.

Waldrum was quite pleased after T&T’s encouraging 1-0 opening match defeat on Wednesday night to the US, the world’s powerhouse in women’s football. “I’m very proud of my team.

I think they made all of Trinidad and Tobago proud tonight. I know they made me very proud. I thought defensively we were very tight and organised, and we were able to create a few decent chances off the counter,” Waldrum told TTFA media.

“The players executed the game plan very well. Kimika (Forbes, goalkeeper) was outstanding for us in goal, and Arin King was a rock in the back line.

Maylee (Attin-Johnson, skipper) and Brianna (Ryce) did massive work for us in midfield. And “Yaya” (Kennya Cordner, forward) was always dangerous off the counter. Overall, a very good performance,” he added.

“She was big time tonight,” Waldrum said of his goalkeeper (Kimika Forbes). “She was the player of the game for us. She kept it close and kept us in it. She’s special. She was fantastic.

Now we’ve got to regroup and focus on the next match (tonight) which is very important for us and which I expect to be a really tough encounter as both teams want it badly.”

Abby Wambach, women’s world football’s most prolific goalscorer and scorer of the winning goal for the Americans Wednesday night, said: “It was frustrating. We created a lot of chances but their goalie basically stood on her head this game until the end. We just couldn’t break them down.”

“Credit to Trinidad & Tobago,” said American coach Jill Ellis. “We don’t see teams that often sit as organised and put so many numbers behind the ball. I thought it was an excellent challenge for us. We created a lot of opportunities, but defensively gave up some big mistakes. We should have done a better job finishing.”

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Waldrum's Trinidad and Tobago frustrate United States in CONCACAF Championship
By Hal Kaiser (orangeintheoven.com)

In a result that constituted a bit of an upset, Trinidad and Tobago held the United States to only one goal in a 1-0 loss in the second Group A match of the day. The opening match saw Haiti top Guatemala 1-0.

A well organized defensive performance and a heroic goalkeeping performance, kept the Trinidad and Tobago side close despite the United States recording 29 shots. Two months of training under the tutelage of Randy Waldrum had a clear impact, as the Soca Princesses showed a level of discipline not often seen in developing soccer nations.

The United States launched wave after wave of attack, growing increasingly frustrated over the course of the match with their inability to crack the T&T defense. Trinidad keeper Kimika Forbes was simply unbeatable, however.

Forbes was tested early and often. In the 14th minute, Christen Press got on the end of a Megan Rapinoe corner, but her header was stopped by Forbes. Rapinoe was active all night long, and in the 23rd minute she cut inside with the ball and fired just wide of the far post.

A minute later, Forbes rushed out with confidence and cut off a cross from Alex Morgan to Abby Wambach, who was thwarted often by the Trinidadian keeper.

In the 37th minute, Carli Lloyd fired a low shot from outside the box but a diving Forbes pushed the ball wide.

Wambach was able to flick on a ball with her head from close range in the 39th minute, but Forbes quick reaction ensured that the game remained scoreless.

Rapinoe nearly scored in the 44th minute when her cross went long and ricocheted off the crossbar.

Just before half-time, Wambach was stymied again, this time by forward Kennya Cordner who headed clear Wambach’s shot off a Press cross.

Halftime provided only a short respite for Trinidad and it was again Wambach who was involved to start the second half. First in the 46th when she set up teammate Morgan with a header, but the Portland Thorn left footed the ball over the crossbar. Two minutes later, Wambach headed a Meghan Klingenberg cross just wide of the post.

Wambach was stopped once again in the 52nd minute when she was played through on goal only to have Forbes stop her attempt to chip the keeper. The rebound fell to Rapinoe who blazed the ball well over the goal.

The United States finally beat Forbes in the 55th minute when Morgan pulled the keeper out wide of the net, and sent in a cross that Forbes was able to get a hand on, but only enough to deflect it up invitingly for Wambach to head into the back of the net.

With the USA throwing numbers forward, Trinidad and Tobago’s speed presented a real counter-attacking risk, and Cordner underlined the threat when she was able to get forward and blast a shot just wide of the near post in the 60th minute.

After a series of American opportunities and Forbes saves, Cordner threatened to level the match again in the 85th minute when she intercepted a poor pass from Hope Solo, but her shot went over the net.

The last American chance of the night came in stoppage time when substitute Sydney Leroux was able to get into the left side of the box unhindered; in a running theme for the night, her shot was stopped by Forbes.

When the final whistle blew, it was a moral victory for Randy Waldrum’s side. Despite the loss, the close score very likely puts Trinidad and Tobago in the driver’s seat if 2nd place comes down to goal differential. It also fills the T&T side with confidence as they head to the all important Friday match against Haiti.

From a Houston Dash standpoint, Meghan Klingenberg started the match at left back and went the full 90, impressing with her attacking play and passing.