Head Coach Dennis Lawrence today announced a 24-man Roster ahead of Thursday’s 2018 CONCACAF World Cup Qualifier against the United States at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Denver.
Lawrence and his coaching staff used the past days dating back to May 24th to assess players during a residential training camp before finalising the squad for the encounter.
The squad is as follows – Jan-Michael Williams, Marvin Phillip, Adrian Foncette, Carlos Edwards, Aubrey David, Alvin Jones, Radanfah Abu Bakr, Mekeil Williams, Triston Hodge, Sheldon Bateau, Daneil Cyrus, Curtis Gonzales, Joevin Jones, Andre Boucaud, Kevan George, Hashim Arcia, Khaleem Hyland, Leston Paul, Kevin Molino, Hughtun Hector, Nathan Lewis, Shahdon Winchester, Jamille Boatswain and Kenwyne Jones.
The players who have returned home, all due to injuries, are Willis Plaza, Jomal Williams and Akeem Roach.
Dutch-based winger Levi Garcia was not considered for selection due to a hamstring injury while US-based player Cordell Cato was released due to disciplinary reasons.
Lawrence said he was anticipating the upcoming days of preparations with his full compliment of players ahead of Thurday’s fixture.
“We arrived here on May 23rd to begin a training camp with the objective of getting acclimatised with the players available to us and I am able to say that we were able to get in some proper training which allowed me and the coaching staff to get a good impression of how the players would react under the conditions here. The players have responded positively with a good attitude and the spirit in the camp has been good with everyone having a proper understanding as to why we are here.
“Now we are under a week away from the match and we should have the full squad together from later this evening and tomorrow we will begin the final leg of preparations. We are heading into it in a positive frame of mind and ready to focus all our energies into ensuring we prepare as best as possible for what is ahead of us,” Lawrence added.
Jan-Michael Williams (North East Stars), Marvin Phillip (Point Fortin Civic Centre FC), Adrian Foncette (Police FC).
Carlos Edwards (Central FC), Aubrey David (PS Kemi Kings—FIN), Alvin Jones (W Connection), Radanfah Abu Bakr (FK Sūduva Marijampolė—LTU), Mekeil Williams (Colorado Rapids—USA), Triston Hodge (W Connection), Sheldon Bateau (Krylia Sovetov Samara—RUS), Daneil Cyrus (Unattached), Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force).
Joevin Jones (Seattle Sounders FC—USA), Andre Boucaud (Dagenham & Redbridge—ENG), Kevan George (Jacksonville Armada—USA), Hashim Arcia (Defence Force), Khaleem Hyland (KVC Westerlo—BEL), Leston Paul (North East Stars), Kevin Molino (Minnesota United FC—USA), Hughtun Hector (W Connection), Nathan Lewis (San Juan Jabloteh).
Shahdon Winchester (Murcielagos FC—MEX), Jamille Boatswain (Defence Force), Kenwyne Jones (Atlanta United—USA).
Cato axed for indiscipline, Levi out with injury: Lawrence names team to face USA, C/Rica.
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868).
The Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team will go into crucial 2018 World Cup qualifying away fixtures against the United States and Costa Rica with just two recognised wingers, after coach Dennis Lawrence axed San Jose Earthquakes flanker Cordell Cato for indiscipline and released Levi Garcia, Jomal Williams and Akeem Roach due to injury.
India-based forward Willis Plaza also left the team camp in Colorado due to an injury, which left the Soca Warriors with a 24-man squad of nine defenders, five holding midfielders and three forwards but just four attacking midfielders.
Lawrence, like his predecessor Stephen Hart, has generally favoured a 4-2-3-1 formation with three attacking midfielders behind a lone striker.
On this occasion, he has only Seattle Sounders’ Joevin Jones and San Juan Jabloteh’s Nathan Lewis as specialist wingers while Minnesota United’s Kevin Molino should start in the ‘number 10’ role with Defence Force’s Hashim Arcia as back-up.
W Connection’s 32-year-old deep-lying playmaker Hughtun Hector and 38-year-old Central FC full back Carlos Edwards both played as wingers earlier in their careers and might be asked to deputise if necessary.
While the absence of Garcia, Williams and Roach were unavoidable, Lawrence might feel especially let down by Cato who was released shortly after showing up for camp.
Wired868 understands that Cato allegedly showed up at the team’s residential camp with his wife Jonelle Warrick and child, despite being advised against it. The speedy winger then asked for them to spend the night with him and, failing that, for him to be allowed to spend the night at a hotel with the pair and report for training in the morning.
Lawrence dropped him instead.
Neither player nor coach have spoken about the incident on the record as yet and the TTFA said only that Cato “was released due to disciplinary reasons.”
It is worth noting that the entire squad is not yet in camp as Kevin Molino only joined the team today while Kenwyne Jones and Kevan George are expected later today and Joevin Jones reports for duty tomorrow, as he represents Seattle Sounders tonight in MLS action.
As such, Cato felt he deserved some flexibility. Lawrence clearly disagreed.
The head scratching confrontation follows on a tetchy exchange between the David John-Williams-led Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) and the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) president Sunil Gulati and Major League Soccer League (MLS) commissioner Dan Garber.
The TTFA wrote to Gulati and Garber, on 27 May, to point out that the MLS clubs released their players early to the United States national team but not to the Soca Warriors. The TTFA president asked Gulati and Garber for reciprocity.
In response, according to John-Williams, the United States football officials claimed that “the MLS and USSF entered into an agreement before the beginning of the MLS season in January 2017 to release their players early for the June qualifiers.”
This pact between the MLS and the USSF had not previously been made public.
There was no legal grounds under which the TTFA could take action against the MLS in any case. FIFA rules state that clubs are not obliged to release players earlier than three days before match day for games on the same continent and four days for games on separate continents. Otherwise, the respective clubs can use their own prerogative in deciding when to release their employees.
Indeed, John-Williams himself—along with Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene and chairman Larry Romany—could not compel Central FC to release players for international duty outside the FIFA guidelines when ex-Warriors coach Tom Saintfiet demanded them for a Nicaragua tour last December.
United States drew 1-1 with Venezuela in a friendly international encounter last night in Utah, after a second half equaliser by teenaged midfield star Christian Pulisic. In contrast, the Warriors’ only outing in Colorado thus far was a 1-0 win over a FC Boulder team which competes in the largely amateur Premier Development League (PDL).
However, Lawrence said their camp has served its objective of allowing the players to acclimatise to the high altitude. Assistant coach Sol Campbell also joined the squad in Colorado last week.
“We were able to get in some proper training which allowed me and the coaching staff to get a good impression of how the players would react under the conditions here,” said Lawrence. “The players have responded positively with a good attitude and the spirit in the camp has been good with everyone having a proper understanding as to why we are here.
“Now we are under a week away from the match and we should have the full squad together from later this evening and tomorrow we will begin the final leg of preparations. We are heading into it in a positive frame of mind and ready to focus all our energies into ensuring we prepare as best as possible for what is ahead of us.”
Trinidad and Tobago have never won away to the United States while their only point there in World Cup qualifying action came almost 30 years ago—on 13 May 1989—when Strike Squad midfielder Hutson “Barber” Charles tucked away a last gasp equaliser in a 1-1 result.
Lawrence will try to emulate then coach Everald “Gally” Cummings, despite the absences of Cato, Garcia and Plaza, who all featured under the current boss in World Cup qualifying action.
Trinidad and Tobago have one defeat in four matches under Lawrence so far with wins over Panama and Barbados, a draw with Grenada and a loss to Mexico. USA are unbeaten after five games under coach Bruce Arena with wins over Jamaica and Honduras and draws against Serbia, Panama and Venezuela.
DJW’s Warriors debt, Cato kerfuffle, Hyland’s commitment and Lawrence’s toughest test
Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams has insisted that National Senior Team players will be paid outstanding monies for their World Cup qualifying win over Panama at the pre-arranged time, despite grumbling in the team’s Denver camp today over the FA’s priorities.
The edginess over finances has created a stir for the Soca Warriors, who are still reeling over the sudden departure of United States-based winger Cordell Cato for “indiscipline.”
The Warriors are owed match fees and win bonuses for their 1-0 win over Panama on 24 March at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain. According to a team source, the payment should have been made to the players within a month of the match.
Regardless, the players had not made an issue about the outstanding money until Saturday evening when the TTFA announced that it would pay US$100,000 and US$25,000 to the Pro League and Super League respectively for administrative costs.
The release upset players who felt that the TTFA should settle its debt to them before offering money to anyone else.
However, John-Williams disputed that the local body was late in meeting its obligations to the players and said the Warriors misunderstood the specifics of the payment to the Pro League and TTSL. He said that the money used for the local leagues came from a special FIFA fund, which could not be used to satisfy other debts.
“FIFA money cannot go to pay players,” John-Williams told the TTFA. “The money (to pay the Pro League and Super League competitions) was accessed from a special project fund and we made that very clear…
“I am not going to answer [any question about when the players will be paid]. I know clearly what is the arrangement with that and the players know what the arrangement is for that. They know exactly when the money will be paid.”
Undoubtedly, the TTFA is more financially stable at present, although this has much to do with its ability to access FIFA funding, which rarely existed under John-Williams’ predecessor, Raymond Tim Kee.
But it has not all been rosy for the Warriors and current head coach Dennis Lawrence was afforded just two friendly internationals so far against Barbados and Grenada—lesser quality opposition than even what was offered to former coach Tom Saintfiet, who got two matches away to Nicaragua last December.
And some tension remains between the squad and the football president, whose relationship virtually started with a threatened players’ strike, two years ago, in the build-up to a crucial 2016 Copa America Centenario Play Off fixture against Haiti.
On the weekend, though, the Warriors suffered a self-inflicted wound when the TTFA Media announced that Lawrence had cut Cato from the team to face the United States for “disciplinary reasons.”
Neither Lawrence nor Cato have spoken publicly about the fall-out so far. However, Wired868 received information on the issue from an informed source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Cato, according to the source, contacted Lawrence during the week and asked to be allowed to spend Saturday night with his wife, Jonelle Warwick, and report to camp on Sunday morning. Cato lives with his wife in San Jose where he is employed with Major League Soccer (MLS) team San Jose Earthquakes.
Lawrence, a former World Cup 2006 player and Everton assistant coach, blanked Cato’s request and insisted that everyone had to make sacrifices for their World Cup drive—including the coach who did not travel with his own wife.
Incidentally, Warriors midfielder Khaleem Hyland got married last weekend and asked for some days off with his wife before joining the squad. Lawrence answered in the negative and Hyland agreed to postpone his honeymoon to link up with the Warriors at their Denver training camp instead and prepare to face the United States on 8 June.
Cato, according to the source, wanted special consideration. So Lawrence suggested a compromise. The Warriors winger was told that he could spend Saturday with his wife and family in Denver but should then show up alone for camp at 8.30pm.
Instead, Cato allegedly turned up to the team’s hotel at 8.45pm with his wife and son and told the coach that he would see them to their room before he joined the squad for dinner.
Lawrence insisted that Cato’s suggestion was unacceptable and the winger promptly left with his entourage. The player still had not contacted the technical staff by Sunday morning when the head coach named his 24-man squad and explained to the players why Cato was excluded.
Wired868 has so far been unable to reach Cato for his own version of the incident.
The winger’s absence is a blow to the Warriors since they are already shorthanded with a growing list of injuries that now includes Levi Garcia, Willis Plaza, Jomal Williams, Akeem Roach and Carlyle Mitchell while veteran forward Cornell Glen only recently returned from injury and was not included.
Lawrence proved to be resourceful in his maiden World Cup qualifier against Panama when, despite injuries to Radanfah Abu Bakr and Mitchell and the suspension of Sheldon Bateau, the Warriors kept a clean sheet with a rejigged back four that comprised of Mekeil Williams—who was dropped for “poor form” by Saintfiet—and the Pro League trio of Curtis Gonzales, Daneil Cyrus and 38-year-old Carlos Edwards.
And a wrongfully disallowed item from Joevin Jones denied the Warriors the chance of a point against Mexico, four days later in Port of Spain.
Lawrence will face his toughest test as coach in Colorado on 8 June, though, against a team that has not dropped a point at home against the two island republic in 28 years.