Fresh off a thrilling, 4-4 tie with Mexico in the 2015 Gold Cup, midfielder Kevan George and his Trinidad & Tobago teammates weren’t satisfied. The tie had earned the island country the top spot from Group C, setting up a quarterfinal showdown with Panama for a chance to reach the team’s first goal for the tournament: a berth in the semifinals.
Unfortunately for the Soca Warriors, it wasn’t to be. At Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday, Panama prevailed 6-5 on penalty kicks to hand Trinidad & Tobago its first – and only – loss of the tournament.
Four days later and three states away, George was back to his day job with Crew SC at the EAS Training Center in Obetz with a sense of wanting more still fresh in his mind. When asked for his overall reflections on the Gold Cup, George used one word first: disappointment.
“It was obviously a good run in the group stage, but we’re still pretty disappointed,” he told The Dispatch today. “I know I am still. It was tough to watch the other games, to be honest. We can build on what we’ve done and not settle for just having a tournament or whatever because in our eyes we haven’t accomplished anything so we’re still hungry. We still feel like we can do more in CONCACAF and hopefully in the world leading up to the World Cup qualifiers. It left a bitter taste in our mouths and we’re definitely ready and hungry to move forward to the next game.”
Now in his fourth season with the Crew, George has made 27 appearances including 11 starts. This season, he has appeared in five games with two starts. He played the entirety of all four games in the Gold Cup, giving him one of his longest stretches of game appearances since becoming a professional.
It was a welcome change.
“It was definitely good to get a stretch of games,” he said. “I didn’t go in expecting anything. I didn’t expect to sit on the bench or expect to play, I just went in there ready. It definitely felt good to see hard work get you a little bit of game time to showcase what you can do, because time is few and far in between here. That doesn’t mean I’m depressed or anything, it just means I have to work harder and eventually something will have to give.”
The challenge now is to turn that momentum into more consistent playing time with the Crew. George has now made 14 appearances for his national team.
“(It’s about) having the patience to wait for your chance and then when your chance comes making the most of it,” Crew coach Gregg Berhalter said. “I think that’s what’s most important, because he has quality. Now the next question is when you get an opportunity, are you going to be able to capitalize on it?”
George said he will work on that by “Just (doing) the same things I did before, maybe a little bit more. Staying after practice, doing stuff on my own, trying to absorb as much information as possible from teammates and the coaching staff. Just sticking to the basics, man. The basics will help you, as it did for our team and myself in the Gold Cup.”
Wednesday was George’s first day back with the Crew. Today, Berhalter said, “He looks good. He looked good today in training. He’s a guy that has, in my eyes, made a tremendous amount of progress this year. I think he’s put himself in line to be able to get on the field. He’s done a good job.”
While with his national team, George spent time with Kenwyne Jones, a forward who plays for Cardiff City in England and has recently been linked to Major League Soccer in numerous reports. Did Jones seek out George’s opinion on the league?
“Not really,” George said. “We were just focusing on the tournament at the time. If we made it to the semis at least, then we would’ve probably had those conversations. We didn’t really talk about it much, but I wouldn’t see why he wouldn’t want to come, maybe not this year but next year. He’d be a great, great asset to the league.”