Trinidad and Tobago head coach was not displeased by the overall showing of the national football team in a high-altitude 0-2 defeat to the United States in Thursday’s CONCACAF zone final-round 2018 World Cup qualifier in Colorado, USA. But the T&T head coach felt individual errors cost his team the match.
“Our individual errors is probably what cost us,” Lawrence declared. “Giving the ball away unnecessarily, which left ourselves exposed, and the U.S. took advantage of it,” the T&T head coach said in the post-match press conference.
“Obviously, we can do a bit better at times but in general, I was pleased with the boys and the commitment that they gave,” Lawrence said.
He was also high in praise for the work of Carlos Edwards and Joevin Jones, whose crosses kept the USA defenders occupied.
“The idea was, as soon as we get the ball, before they (USA) could turn back and set (up), we needed to get the ball in the box,” Lawrence explained. “We had a bit of joy in it. We were unlucky. Kenwyne hit the bar from a cross and I though Nathan’s (Lewis) goal was very, very close and it could have gone either way. Unfortunately, it went against us again.”
The former T&T defender also explained it would have been “unfair” to have Seattle-based Joevin Jones play a full 90 minutes; Jones was substituted in the second half because the player came last to camp last and had the least time to adapt to the extreme altitude.
“We lost the game because we gave away the ball cheaply twice, leaving ourselves exposed,” he declared.
Hyland forced USA keeper Tim Howard with a couple of first half shots from long range but carelessly lost the ball, leading to the first goal. And Kenwyne Jones did the same on the USA’s second item, although earlier putting a header onto the crossbar, just past the half-hour mark.
“We want Khaleem to have a go at the goal. What we don’t want is for Khaleem to give away the ball cheaply, in the middle of the park. So from that point of view, he did what I asked him to do; he just needs to execute better.” the coach said.
Lawrence added: ”It’s our own individual errors, Kenwyne included in the second one. We gave the ball away sloppy, left ourselves exposed, and from there we couldn’t recover.”
Lawrence also explained his switch to the 3-5-2 system, where he used three centre-backs—Sheldon Bateau, Daniel Cyrus and Mekeil Williams.
“I think we needed to be safe in the back. We played an extra defender because the U.S. play with two strikers, so I thought we would play with three centre backs.”
Lawrence also gave kudos to Nathan Lewis, the inexperienced locally-based winger who began his football playing for Valtrin in the TTFA’s East Zone, before moving to the Pro League with Caledonia AIA and San Juan Jabloteh. Lewis had a second half equalising goal disallowed, when filling the role of USA-based Cordell Cato who was dropped for indiscipline. Lewis’ shoulder was barely and inch ahead of USA right-back DeAndre Yedlin when he volleyed Kevin Molino’s cross past Tim Howard a minute after Christian Pulisic’s opening goal, but an offside flag denied him success.
“Nathan Lewis, since the period he came over here, has shown good energy. He showed good commitment and he’s done well,” coach Lawrence said. “He just played in the CFU Championships in Trinidad. He had a very good tournament and from that point, I thought he deserved it and he didn’t let me down. So I was pleased with that.”