Flying under the radar coming into the 2015 Gold Cup, Trinidad and Tobago have a decent draw and solid chance of progressing to the knockout stage once again this tournament. The question is whether this squad, composed of a mix of veterans with European experience and young up-and-comers on this side of the Atlantic, will have what it takes to get the better of Guatemala and Cuba and turn some heads this summer.
GROUP C SCHEDULE
July 9: vs. Guatemala, Chicago, Ill.
July 12: vs. Cuba, Glendale, Arizona
July 15: vs. Mexico, Charlotte, N.C.
THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH
Kenwyne Jones, F, Cardiff City: The biggest name on the Soca Warriors’ squad, Jones is a key part of the set-up but has arguably not performed to expectations in his international career to date. The English Premier League and English Championship veteran – fresh off a loan stint helping Bournemouth gain promotion to the Premier League – will need to score at least a few goals if Trinidad and Tobago are to make a run in the Gold Cup.
Joevin Jones, M/D, Chicago Fire: One of three current MLS players on the roster, Jones is already one of the most-capped T&T players on the squad and at just 23, could show off his skills on ball at the international stage. A good start to his tenure with the Fire seems to promise big things for Jones at the Gold Cup.
Sheldon Bateau, D, Mechelen: The 24-year-old has become a regular with Belgian first-division side Mechelen, and has considerable experience against some of the most promising attackers in Europe the last two seasons. The central defender will have his hands full trying to stop the likes of Mexico in the group stage, but an impressive Gold Cup could help his stock rise – and possibly intrigue other European clubs.
Stephen Hart will be familiar to those who followed the Canadian national team in recent years, as he coached in the Canadian set-up across various age levels from 2004-12, capped off with a stint as the senior team boss from 2009-12. Canada were gunning for a hexagonal berth in 2014 World Cup qualifying, but an unforgettable 8-1 loss to Honduras killed those hopes and sealed Hart’s fate as Canada manager.
Now coaching his native country, Hart guided Trinidad & Tobago to a second-place finish in the 2014 Caribbean Cup, only losing on penalties in the final against Jamaica, and will be hoping to reach the knockout stage at the Gold Cup for the second consecutive time.
GOLD CUP HISTORY
The Soca Warriors qualified for the Gold Cup for the second consecutive tournament. They reached the quarterfinals in 2013, falling to Mexico 1-0 in that round. Their best finish in the Gold Cup era was a semifinal berth in 2000, and they finished second in the 1973 CONCACAF Championship.
Besides Chicago’s Jones, Columbus Crew SC midfielder Kevan George and San Jose Earthquakes’ Cordell Cato are on the roster for the tournament…A fourth player, forward Rundell Winchester, currently plays for USL side Portland Timbers 2…former Sporting Kansas City defender Daneil Cyrus, now playing professionally in Vietnam, is also on this Gold Cup squad.