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Tue, Mar

Eve focuses on new defensive tactics for USA clash, US coach relishes Soca Warriors test.
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...Stern, Theobald applaud T&T’s effort vs USA

T&T’s senior men’s head coach Angus Eve will have only today’s practice session to work on a game plan for a clash with the United States in the return leg of Division A of the CONCACAF Nations League quarterfinal match at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo tomorrow at 8 pm.

Following Thursday’s 3-0 loss in Austin, Texas, the Soca Warriors will train at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, at 4.30 pm

Eve, who hailed the team’s performance after defender Noah Powder was red-carded in 37th-minute and kept the USA at bay for 81 minutes before the first goal was scored, has made three changes to the T&T squad with midfielders Duane Muckette and Kevon Goddard coming in for the suspended Powder and defender Neveal Hackshaw who is also out on two yellow cards. Also, goalkeeper Jabari St Hillaire comes back into the squad in place of Rushon Sandy.

Eve will focus on strengthening his defence since he no longer has the valuable and experienced services of Powder and Hackshaw which paves the way for the likes of Ross Russell Jr of La Horquetta Rangers and Jesse Williams, who plays for USL League 1 club Central Valley Fuego.

Meanwhile, former T&T forward Stern John, this country’s leading goalscorer in international football said the country’s Men’s team deserves credit for their resolute display against the United States despite the 3-0 result.

John, coach of St Lucia, saw his team draw 0-0 with St Kitts/Nevis in Concacaf Nations League B action Thursday and later watched the T&T match on television.

John said, “The team deserves a lot of credit for the way they held themselves together for such a long period in the match. To go that distance with ten men for 50-plus minutes away to a US team decorated with quality players as they possess now was no easy thing to do. That takes a lot more than luck” John told the media.

John made seven appearances against the US in his 150 matches at senior international level during which he scored 70 goals for T&T.

“No disrespect to our players. We are growing but when you compare the two squads and assess the calibre of clubs the US players are playing with and the level of the leagues, and then you watch our roster, you have to admit that it’s going to be a challenge.”

“But I thought we acquitted ourselves well and had it not been for one bad decision by a player that forces you to go a man down then we might have been able to grind out a result. And then even with ten men on the park, we didn’t concede until the 81st.”

“Now we have to keep that same energy and belief when we play them at home. We cannot lose our discipline because they will punish you,” John said.

Former National team midfielder Densill Theobald, who had the assist on Angus Eve’s goal in the 2-1 defeat to the US in a World Cup qualifier at the Queen’s Park Oval in 2005, said he was far from upset on Thursday night.

“Honestly, I slept comfortably after the game, and why? Because I felt the boys gave such a gritty performance. They played with conviction. That’s what we want ... to see them fight and show that 100 per cent commitment on the pitch and we saw that from them. It was unfortunate to concede two goals on deflections but that’s the game sometimes.”

“Usually after a 3-0 loss, one would tend to be very disappointed and upset with the manner of the performance but this time it was different. There was nothing to feel ugly or shamed about.”

“We almost completed a remarkable fight with a result but it was surely going to be hard to hold them off with ten men for that long. Denzil was excellent, Andre Raymond and Shannon Gomez were so solid and Andre Rampersad was a light for us in the middle with his composure and fight. Malcolm Shaw did a hell of a job for us as well. The effort was something we must commend,” Theobald said.

“I would even go as far to say that had we pulled off a draw, this would have ranked right up there with the World Cup draw against Sweden. This is considering different factors now in terms of the nature of this match and the way the US team is set up as a top-ten nation in world football. And we are still going through a difficult period in our football in general terms along with the fact that we played with ten men,” Theobald added.

Early Bird Tickets for Monday’s match are sold out. Tickets now cost $150 (Covered) and $80 (Uncovered). Kids 12 and under are free. Tickets are available at all Haagen-Dazs outlets, Fan Club Trincity Mall, Fan Zone (MovieTowne PoS and Price Plaza), Online at Eboxtickets.com, and the Stadium on Monday.

RELATED NEWS

Eve promises 'positive' football vs USA in 2nd leg.
By Jelani Beckles (T&T Newsday),.


SOCA Warriors head coach Angus Eve said it will be a different approach in the second leg of the 2023 Concacaf Nations League quarter-final match against the US as they try to overcome a 3-0 deficit.

The second leg of the quarter-final will be played at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo at 8 pm on Monday. The winner will advance to the semifinals and also earn a coveted spot in the 2024 Copa America which will be held from June 20 to July 14 in the USA. The loser will still have a chance of qualifying for Copa America via a play-in versus the losers of the other quarterfinals.

T&T went down in the first leg in Austin, Texas on Thursday and are expected to play a more attacking style if they are to pull off a remarkable comeback. Eve started off with an ultra defensive mindset in the first leg with a plan to bring on attacking players like Levi Garcia, Nathaniel James and Real Gill in the second half.

The approach seemed to be working as T&T, despite not threatening the US goal and hardly venturing into ther half, were frustrating the hosts who struggled to breakdown T&T's resolute defence.

However, Eve's second-half plan had to be shelved as T&T were reduced to ten men in the 37th minute, after Noah Powder received a second yellow card for a rash tackle in the opposing half.

T&T opted to maintain a defensive formation in an effort to hold on for a draw. Amid tiring legs, USA finally broke their resistence in the 82nd minute and fired in three late goals.

In an interview with the media ahead of Monday's match, Eve said the hosts will express themselves a bit more. He said, "Usually, away from home any team in any country plays in a different manner and when you are home you tend to play in a different manner, so when you come to the game tomorrow you will see...We will be a little more positive, most definitely, because we want to win the game."

Eve said nobody thought they would advance so far in the tournament. "We are so excited to be here. We just want to go out and represent our country well. We want to project a lot of pride and determination when we go into these games.

"These are the games we want to play in the rebuilding stage where we are at and exposing young players...to gain contracts on the outside, that is our primary goal and to continue to develop T&T football."

Eve said the spirit the Soca Warriors showed in the first leg proved his players have the ability to compete with the US, the number-one ranked Concacaf team and 11th ranked in the world.

"The game that they just played they would have felt a little bit more comfortable on the park, a little bit more comfortable in the environment playing the number-one team in Concacaf and the number-ten or 11-ranked team in the world. They know now they could play and compete, so I think we are going to see a different game tomorrow."

T&T player Andre Raymond liked the determination his teammates on Thursday. "For me it was a pleasure to hold the (US) team (for so long). Unfortunately, we did not get the result we wanted, but coming home we have the advantage now and I think we can press forward for the result we want."

T&T will be wihout the services of Powder, who is serving a suspension for his red card, as well as midfielder Neveal Hackshaw, also suspended for accumulation of yellow cards.

Included in the squad in their absence are midfielders Duane Muckette and Kevon Goddard.,

Sunday marked the 34th anniversary of the US 1-0 defeat over T&T at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, which earned the Americans a spot at the 1990 World Cup in Italy. Eve was asked about November 19, 1989.

"I have been talking to (former national defender) Brian Williams and the boys. Yesterday they had an event that unfortunately I could not go to. We know how the people in T&T remember the Strike Squad. I myself was coming into the team. It was a very traumatic time for us because we had so many dreams and aspirations at that time that we would have been in Italia 1990. Unfortunately, it did not happen."

US coach relishes Soca Warriors test.

US MEN'S football coach Gregg Berhalter said he expects a "good test" from Trinidad and Tobago who need a miracle to turn around an 0-3 deficit in Monday's second leg of the 2023 Concacaf Nations League quarter-finals, at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo. The match kicks off at 8pm.

The US left it late against ten-man T&T in the first leg in Austin, Texas, but still prevailed 3-0 to put one foot into the semis.

The winner over the two legs will not only qualify for the Nations League semi-finals, but will earn a spot at the 2024 Copa America.

US won the first leg on Thursday courtesy three goals in the final ten minutes. T&T's Noah Powder was sent off after receiving a second yellow card in the 37th minute, but the Soca Warriors defence held firm until the deadlock was broken in the 82nd minute by Ricardo Pepi. Antonee Robinson added a second goal in the 86th minute, before Giovanni Reyna rounded off the scoring in the 89th minute.

Speaking to the media at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Sunday, Berhalter said, "We talked at the end of the (first) game, (saying) we are only halfway there so now we have another half of this 180-minute game...It is going to need intensity, it is going to need determination and teamwork and we will be ready then because it is an opportunity for us to go to the semi-finals of the Nations League, to go to Copa America."

Asked if fans could expect any experimentation in the second leg with a 3-0 cushion, Berhalter said, "It is not time to experiment. We are focusing on the result, we are focusing on the opportunities we have in this match and I think it will be getting ahead of ourselves (to experiment)."

Berhalter said the Soca Warriors made them work in the first leg. "I also credited T&T for their amazing effort and I stand by that. They did a great job. Their coach (Angus Eve) was animated on the sideline, getting them going and they really had a fighting spirit."

T&T and the US have a long history of matches, but the rivalry really took off during the 1990 World Cup campaign. US silenced a capacity crowd at Hasely Crawford Stadium on November 19, 1989 with a 1-0 win to seal a spot at the 1990 Italy World Cup. The result prevented T&T from qualifying.

Berhalter, who got over 40 caps in his international playing career, said matches between the two countries are always entertaining.

"They are always good matches. I remember the 1989 match, obviously 2017," Berhalter said. In 2017, a long-distance strike from T&T defender Alvin Jones ended USA's chance of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Jones's goal helped T&T win 2-1 at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.

Berhalter believes T&T are starting to produce talented players again. "They had a really strong generation, they are replenishing that now. You could see some real quality young players...T&T has been around for a while, has been competing at the highest level for a while, so we see this as a good test for our group."

Levi Garcia, who plays for Greek club AEK Athens, is one of T&T's best players. Berhalter said limiting his threat will be pivotal. "He is a quality player, no question about it. We have enjoyed watching him play at AEK Athens. I spoke to him after the (first) game, saying how much I admire him as a player because of his quality...

"We know he is a dangerous player. We are going to have to be aware of him. (He is) very strong, good dribbler, good left foot...he is going to be a factor in this match for sure."

US will be without starting midfielder Weston McKennie because of a knee injury. Berhalter said in the days prior to the first leg, McKennie was battling to be fit for the match. "There were some training sessions where he was hobbling around and it really took a lot for him to play in this match (first leg)...sometimes you push it to the limit and something bad could happen.

"This was a case where he was getting treatment all week. We saw him hindered in training and after speaking to him, it is (now) about recovery, getting this thing right and trying to nip it in the bud, so it does not linger for months and months."