Trinidad and Tobago’s Senior Men’s Team stretched their unbeaten record to five matches with an impressive and strong showing in tonight’s 2018 CONCACAF semi-final round World Cup qualifier before a packed Hasely Crawford Stadium.
The game had all the ingredients of proper international football match and there was a tremendous atmosphere in the stadium from start to finish. (Photo shows Joevin Jones in action vs the USA./ Allan Crane for TTFA Media)
T&T are second in the group with four points behind the US (4 points) and ahead of Guatemala (3 pts) which trounced St Vincent/Grenadines 4-0 tonight
“I thought the players left everything out on the pitch tonight,” Stephen Hart said.
“They pushed themselves from the start and they never let up. I was really impressed with the way we handled the game but while a point is good I felt we had the chance to get the win tonight. But we’ll take it and now we have the rest of games to look forward to next year. I would have ideally loved to be going into the next set of games with six points but we’ve got four and we’ll work with that,” Hart added.
T&T captain Kenwyne Jones added: “The team really came out and give a fighting display and I don’t think anyone can be disappointed with what we have on the pitch tonight. It’s a good position to be in after two matches but we have a lot to look forward to still and we have got to stay together and keeping building as a team.
“The game itself was a good one in the sense that we showed that we could hold our own and we can compete with some of the best and I think we have been showing signs of this and great progress over the past two years or so. I think this is a good period for us and we have to keep pushing on from here,” Jones added.
A report in the Washington Post read ” World Cup qualifying is a two-year grind, pulling the U.S. men’s national soccer team to far-off destinations across Central America and the Caribbean.
These away exercises are not designed for artistic endeavors; rather, they are trials of composure and concentration. If everything goes just right, victory might be there for the taking. Most of the time, though, a draw will suffice.
Jurgen Klinsmann’s crew made few memories Tuesday, but with a 0-0 draw against Trinidad and Tobago at Hasely Crawford Stadium, the Americans passed their first road test of the 2018 qualifying cycle and remained atop the CONCACAF semifinal-round group.
“Overall,” Klinsmann said, “a tie is all right.”
The Americans did not create many opportunities, particularly in a drab first half, but they came closest to scoring after intermission as Gyasi Zardes and Jermaine Jones hit the crossbar.
“You know they are always going to be hard games,” captain Michael Bradley said. “You know they are not always going to be pretty. We’ve been through it before. We know what it’s like.
“If you are able to take your chance, the result can look different. If you can’t, it’s vital you are defensively solid and, at worst, come away 0-0. In those ways, it was a professional performance.”
The outcome left the United States atop the Group C quartet with a 1-0-1 record and four points. Trinidad and Tobago boasts the same numbers but trails on goal differential. Two teams will advance to the final round of regional qualifying next year.
Guatemala (1-1-0) kept pace with a 4-0 victory at St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which has conceded 10 consecutive goals since taking an early lead against the US.
The stop in Port of Spain rekindled memories of the 1989 meeting that decided a World Cup berth. The Americans have visited several times since, but almost 26 years to the day they dashed local World Cup dreams with a 1-0 victory, the pain remains fresh.
This encounter fell very early in the qualifying cycle, leaving ample room for error. Still, after an invigorating performance at the Gold Cup this summer and a 2-1 victory at Guatemala in the group opener, the Soca Warriors saw a wonderful opportunity to further their cause on home ground.
In the hours before kickoff, the stadium was a festival of sound (rapid-fire percussion and soca rhythms) and color (red, red and more red). The scene was set for a T&T fete.
The Soca Warriors were quicker and more clever with the ball in the first half. The U.S. central midfield tandem of Bradley and Jones wasn’t synchronized.
For the most part, the Americans were forced to chase the game. There was nothing dynamic about their approach. Passing was impure. They absorbed pressure and sought to counterattack, fleeting opportunities stalling in the thick seaside air.
The Soca Warriors were the more vibrant side, but at home, they had to be. A home draw against the group favorites would not cripple T&T’s efforts, but such golden opportunities should not be misused.
The match almost turned dramatically two minutes after intermission, but Zardes’s running header on Jozy Altidore’s cross crashed off the crossbar.
It was the start of a much-improved half by the Americans, who bettered their possession game and tightened defensively. Geoff Cameron and Matt Besler made a strong case to remain Klinsmann’s primary center backs into 2016.
In his first significant action since returning from a one-year international sabbatical, World Cup star Tim Howard did not have to make any difficult saves.
Howard’s counterpart, Jan Michael Williams, preserved the tie in the 78th minute by getting a slight touch on Jones’s roaring shot from distance — off his hand and then off the crossbar.
Said Howard: “Exactly how we figured it would go — tight game, point on the road, all is well.”