T&T Senior Men enter final week of build up to WCQ with USA in Colorado

Trinidad and Tobago’s senior men’s team continued their build up towards next Thursday’s World Cup qualifier against the United States with two more training sessions in the morning period of Tuesday and Wednesday at Prentup Field in Colorado as the group of players entered the final week of preparations under the watchful eyes of head coach Dennis Lawrence and his backroom staff.

Lawrence’s pool increased with the arrival of European-based duo Khaleem Hyland and Sheldon Bateau while Colorado Rapids defender Mekeil Williams also joined the camp to begin training with the squad. Lawrence is expected to name his final squad on the weekend for the encounter at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

Williams, based in Colorado is at home as his club plays their home matches at the venue for Thursday’s qualifier and he was in high spirits upon joining the camp on Tuesday.

“Joining the camp was a good feeling for me. I haven’t see the boys in a while and having them come to Colorado where I am based was a joy and pleasure for me and I am enjoying it so far. When they showed up at the game last week was a great feeling, a special moment for me. I felt that joy and passion from the moment I saw them in the stands and it was an experience I would remember,” Williams told TTFA Media.

About the conditions in Colorado, he continued: “Playing at altitude is difficult but you have to push through with it with a few sessions and then you are ready for it. I think we will be ready for the game come June 8th. I know the boys here have been putting in the work and when the other players come into camp everyone will be putting in the effort to get there by game time.

“Joining in the sessions from today was a joy for me. That is my comfort zone… being with my boys in the national team in training and being around the coaching staff and preparing for matches is something I always look forward to,” added the former W Connection defender.

Williams’ teammate on the Colorado team is US goalkeeper Tim Howard and both men have already placed a bet on the match. Bruce Arena confirmed to the media on Monday that Howard remains his number one choice.

“We actually made a bet on the game a couple days ago. If we win the game I get to keep my place in the dressing room and if they lose he has to sit wit the rookies for the rest of the season,” Williams added with a bit of laughter.

Meantime,  Eintracht Frankfurt defender Timmy Chandler has withdrawn from the U.S. national team ahead of two World Cup qualifiers because of a hamstring injury. On Sunday, he was among 27 players named to the squad, which gathered in the Denver area for preparations on Monday.No replacement was named right away, and it’s unclear whether Arena will fill the slot before Saturday’s friendly against Venezuela in Utah.

On the goalkeeper choice, Arena said “As of now it’s Tim Howard,” Arena said Monday. “He had two good games (in March) and we’ll have to see how these guys look over the next couple of weeks. We have good goalkeepers here so that’s the least of my worries.”

Photo at top shows Mekeil Williams with other members of the T&T squad at training at Prentup Field on Tuesday – TTFA Media

Arena also spoke about USA’s upcoming game against Venezuela, saying :  “It’s part of our preparation for the games against Trinidad & Tobago and Mexico, and we get to play a South American opponent with some very good players. They’re bringing in a number of their first team players, so it should be a real plus. We get a little bit of a taste of playing a game in altitude, and no question about it, it’s low altitude in comparison to Denver and Mexico City, but it’s a starting point.”

Dennis Lawrence shares a comment with goalkeepers Marvin Phillip and Jan Michael Williams.