Trinidad and Tobago’s Senior team will be looking to make the best of a rare friendly international in the second half of the international calendar when they face Canada’s Senior Men’s team in a friendly international at Central Broward Regional Park from 7pm on Wednesday.
T&T last played against Antigua/Barbuda in a friendly there in February, winning comfortably 4-0 with Devorn Jorsling scoring a hattrick and will be looking to complete a third successive win over the Canadians following up on their 2-0 and 4-0 victories in 2002 World Cup qualifiers back in 2000.
An Angus Eve wonder strike and a clever Dwight Yorke finish did the trick in Edmonton while a Russell Latapy bullet strike was the highlight of T&T’s 4-0 win at the Queen’s Park Oval. But Canada will surely remember their 1-0 win over T&T in the 2000 CONCACAF semi-final which preceded their win in the final.
Interim T&T head coach Hutson Charles will be looking to see how well his players shape up ahead of the upcoming Digicel Caribbean Cup qualifiers as well as a friendly away to Puerto Rico next month.
The likes of Slovak-based forward Lester Peltier and Orlando City midfielder Kevin Molino is sure to add some spark to the T&T attack while Vancouver Whitecaps defender Carlyle Mitchell and Seon Power possess the necessary experience to hold things steady at the back for T&T.
Philadelphia Union midfielder Keon Daniel and striker Darryl Roberts will also give Charles some extra options with midfielder Clyde Leon, Devorn Jorsling and Hughtun Hector also capable of making things difficult for the opponents. Under 23 duo Joevin Jones and Daneil Cyrus are also in the mix with Jan-Michael Williams and Cleon John both capable of holding guard in the T&T goal.
“It’s a warm up game where we will be looking to see the conditions of the players and also to see how well they combine before we put the team together again for the Digicel Cup,” Charles told TTFF Media at the Sheraton Suites Plantation Hotel, ahead of a 7pm training session at the match venue.
“Some of the guys have the experience at this level and have been here before but we are also rebuilding so there’s young Kareem Moses who has been drafted in and we have other guys like Richard Roy who will obviously want to show what they are capable of doing. Just having them here with the squad is a plus for their development. “
Looking at the match itself, the former Defence Force man noted: “Canada has been doing well in the World Cup campaign and we expect nothing less than a stiff challenge from them which is also good for us because we want to be playing matches that will also benefit our preparations for later down the road. All the same, we are also playing to win so I expect the boys will go out there and try to play good football and get a result as well.”
Racing Genk midfielder Khaleem Hyland did not make the trip due to club commitments and efforts to draft in Leston Paul and Sean De Silva with the former recovering from an injury and the latter having college commitments.
Canada’s Trinidad-born head coach Stephen Hart believes T&T will give his team a good run on Wednesday. " “I thought (Trinidad and Tobago) would present us something similar to Panama with their physique and the pace that they play.
I think they've got some very good players called in and it's a matter of how long they've been together, how much time they've been together. I think, if you look at their program, they'll be looking at it over a four-year period where I'm looking at it over the next month,” Hart said.
"It gives us a chance to come together and keep talking about what our objectives are [and] what our aims are. In terms of the game itself, it'll be more about looking at individual performances, who can fit in where, maybe try something different and see who can give us a little more flexibility in the squad."
Canada defeated Cuba 1-0 and drew 0-0 with Honduras in their two World Cup qualifiers thus far. Their squad for Wednesday includes uncapped Uruguay-based forward Lucas Cavallini, experienced FC Dallas midfielder Julian De Guzman, German-based defender Marcel De Jong and Swedish-based midfielder Nik Ledgerwood.
International cricket has been a regular at the Central Broward with the T&T T20 team playing here earlier this month and based on feedback up to Tuesday, an impressive contingent of T&T fans is expected to be in attendance to show their support including some former players and athletes including Ato Boldon. Kick off time is 7pm.
Hart looking for good performances against T&T
In the unpredictable world of international soccer, Stephen Hart knows it's always good to have a solid backup plan.
The Canadian men's soccer coach said he's using Wednesday's upcoming friendly against Trinidad and Tobago to see if any players catch his eye before two crucial World Cup qualifiers against Panama next month. While Hart says his roster for the qualifiers is pretty much set, he needs a Plan B in case he needs to replace a projected starter due to injury or poor form.
"I know the squad I would like (against Panama) -- let's put it that way," Hart said after his team's final training session before Wednesday's game. "But there are too many outside factors for me to be thinking about that at the moment.
"I think (the friendly is) an opportunity for those players who didn't get in the recent international games to get into the squad."
Canada, second place in its World Cup qualifying group, is looking to build on a road win over Cuba and a draw with Honduras in June. A top-two finish will move Canada onto the final round qualifying.
Panama currently sits first in the group. Two good results in the next qualifiers would propel Canada to top spot, while two losses could prove fatal.
The squad that's been assembled in Florida is made up largely of North American-based players. Foreign-based players like Simeon Jackson, Olivier Occean and Atiba Hutchinson have remained with their clubs as most of the biggest leagues in Europe are about to open new seasons.
That has opened the door for veteran midfielders Terry Dunfield (Toronto FC) and Patrice Bernier (Montreal Impact), who were left off the roster in June, as well as some members of the under-23 team that came within one game of qualifying for the London Olympics before losing out to eventual gold medallist Mexico.
"I was in the stands for the Honduras game and I was one of the fans yelling 'come on boys just stick it away' but we had three or four good chances," Dunfield said of the 0-0 draw with Honduras. "The boys did fantastic last month and if anything were a little bit unlucky not to come away with the six points."
Forward Lucas Cavallini turned a few heads in the Olympic qualifying tournament. When Canada pulled off a 2-0 win over the favoured United States in Nashville, Cavallini, currently based in Uruguay, scored Canada's second goal of the night.
Given Canada's continuing struggles putting away chances, a fresh face on offence could be worth a look.
"The key thing for me as a striker is to score and if you keep scoring and keep scoring then they keep calling," said the 19-year-old Cavallini. "For me that's the main objective."
Hart was the assistant coach for Canada in Olympic qualifying and was impressed with what he saw in Cavallini. He says the young striker could possibly find his way into the lineup against Panama if he looks sharp against Trinidad and Tobago, ranked one spot behind No. 79 Canada by FIFA.
"If a young man comes in and gets a run and has a good performance it will boost his confidence and it might just sway the selection," Hart said.
The team trained on Tuesday in hot and humid conditions nearing 40 degrees. While the weather isn't likely to be as punishing next month for the first of the games at BMO Field, Hart's still hoping they can get some of that hot weather that Southern Ontario has enjoyed for most of the summer.
"The reality is it will be better if there is some heat in Toronto because it will prepare us better for Panama," he said. "I don't think it will be cold enough to affect Panama. We'll take whatever comes. We know it's going to be hot in Panama. There's no getting away from that but we'll be prepared for that."
For Canada, Wednesday’s friendly at the Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill, Fla., is just a primer for bigger games to come next month. But for Trinidad and Tobago, it’s the beginning of a very long road back to respectability.
Canada are preparing for two make-or-break CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers in September, yet with 2014 already out of reach for Trinidad, the Soca Warriors are looking a long way down the road. Their eyes will be on brooding a generation that will attempt to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The Canadians, meanwhile, are in a solid position in World Cup qualifying. Back in June, a 1-0 win over Cuba was followed by a 0-0 draw with Honduras, leaving the Canucks second in their qualifying group behind Panama.
In preparation for next month's top-of-the-group showdown, head coach Stephen Hart has assembled a mix of youth and experience in attempt to both hone his team’s match sharpness, and perhaps find some new attacking answers for the games that matter.
Twelve years ago, Canada and Trinidad had one of the fiercest rivalries in the region, playing each other three times in the course of a single year.
Canada gained the upper hand by beating T&T 1-0 in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, but the Soca Warriors got their revenge in a big way. First they beat Canada 2-0 in Edmonton in July in a World Cup qualifier, then added the final dagger that killed Canada’s hopes of qualifying for Korea/Japan 2002 with a 4-0 win in Trinidad in September.
The rivalry has been dormant ever since, as the two sides haven't run into each other in the Gold Cup, World Cup qualifying or any friendlies.
Trinidad and Tobago Outlook
A participant in the 2006 World Cup in Germany, the Soca Warriors were one of the bigger players in CONCACAF. But the retirement of Dwight Yorke, Russell Latapy and Stern John has left Trinidad's cupboard relatively bare, and they've paid the price. T&T suffered an early elimination from 2014 World Cup qualifying after they were outmatched by Guyana in first-round group play.
Even worse, the team is reportedly in difficult straits financially and may not be playing any games at home in the near future, with Wednesday’s match taking place at a venue known primarily as a cricket ground. With their eyes firmly set on starting to build some momentum ahead of the 2013 Gold Cup, their next major tournament opportunity, head coach Hudson Charles has called in a relatively young squad.
Two MLS representatives — Vancouver defender Carlyle Mitchell and Philadelphia attacker Keon Daniel — are among the most experienced players in the group.
Canada Team Outlook
While most of the bigger names on the Canadian team like Simeon Jackson, Olivier Occean and Atiba Hutchinson were left at their respective club in Europe, there are still a number of veterans in the squad. TFC's Terry Dunfield and Montreal's Patrice Bernier are both fit and looking to get back into the squad on a regular basis while fellow MLSers Julian de Guzman, Andrew Hainault and Ante Jazic all played key roles in the games in June.
There is also a healthy infusion of youth, as four members of the Under-23 team that nearly qualified for the Olympics are also on the roster.
Players to Watch
Trinidad: Devorn Jorsling
At 28 years old, Jorsling is one of the older members of a very inexperienced Trinidad team. Jorsling plays for Trinidadian top-flight side Caledonia AIA, a participant in the 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League. Jorsling will likely lead the T&T attack as his 16 goals in 29 caps is well above any of the other players in the team.
Canada: Lucas Cavallini
Canada’s struggles with capitalizing on goalscoring chances have certainly been well documented and with Occean and Iain Hume both focusing on their respective clubs, a chance to perform has fallen into Cavallini’s lap. With not many out-and-out attacking players in this roster, it’s quite conceivable that Cavallini will be starting on Wednesday and a goal or two in his international debut might make some of the more senior players in the squad sweat just a bit.
Trinidad and Tobago
GOALKEEPERS (2): Clean John (North East Stars/Trinidad and Tobago), Jan-Michael Williams (W Connection/Trinidad and Tobago)
DEFENDERS (7): Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force/ Trinidad and Tobago), Joevin Jones (W Connection/ Trinidad and Tobago), Carlyle Mitchell (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Kareem Moses (North East Stars/ Trinidad and Tobago), Rodell Elock (Defence Force/ Trinidad and Tobago), Daneil Cyrus (W Connection/ Trinidad and Tobago), Seon Power (North East Stars/ Trinidad and Tobago)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Keon Daniel (Philadelphia Union), Leston Paul (University of South Florida), Hughton Hector (Song Lam Nghe An/Vietnam), Kevin Molino (Orlando City), Lester Peltier (Slovan Bratislava/Slovakia), Clyde Leon (W Connection/ Trinidad and Tobago)
FORWARDS (3): Richard Roy (Defence Force/ Trinidad and Tobago), Darryl Robers (Charlotte Eagles), Devorn Jorsling (Caledonia AIA/ Trinidad and Tobago)
GOALKEEPERS (2): Milan Borjan (Sivasspor/Turkey), Lars Hirschfeld (Vålerenga/Norway)
DEFENDERS (7): Nik Ledgerwood (Hammarby IF/Sweden), Russell Teibert (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Dejan Jakovic (D.C. United), André Hainault (Houston Dynamo), Marcel de Jong (FC Augsburg/Germany), Ante Jazic (Chivas USA), Doneil Henry (Toronto FC)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Julian de Guzman (FC Dallas), Will Johnson (Real Salt Lake), Terry Dunfield (Toronto FC), Jonathan Beaulieu-Bourgault (Unattached), Pedro Pacheco (Santa Clara/Portugal), Patrice Bernier (Montreal Impact)
FORWARDS (3): Tosaint Ricketts (Unattached), Lucas Cavallini (Nacional/Uruguay), Evan James (Montreal Impact)