Trinidad and Tobago’s Under 20 Men made it two wins out of two with a 5-1 victory over Puerto Rico in their CONCACAF U-20 Men’s Championship World Cup qualifier at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida on Saturday evening.
The win was powered by a double from US College-based forward Isaiah Lee (39th, 56th), John Paul Rochford in the 25th, substitute Kendell Sween in the 80th and Jabarry Francis in the 93rd. Gerald Diaz pulled a goal back for Puerto Rico in the 52nd minute to leave the scores at 2-1 at that stage.
T&T head coach Russell Latapy made some changes to his starting line up from Thursday’s 3-2 win over St Vincent/Grenadines, introducing Toronto FC centre back Luke Singh, along with Isaiah Lee and Mark Ramdeen. T&T started the match in a much better fashion than Thursday’s outing, looking settled from early on. Francis had T&T’s first effort on goal, an effort which went over bar in the 5th minute and soon after Ethan Bonaparte saw his shot from close range saved by goalkeeper Jose Calderon. Ramdeen was sent through on goal in the 9th minute but Calderon was off his line in a flash to deny the Naparima College player.
T&T would eventually break the deadlock when Kishon Hackshaw did the bulk of the work on the right and delivered inside for Rochford to end the play with a clinical finish. Hackshaw would have couple more looks on goal but failed to find the target before the halftime break. Lee would demonstrate better finishing ability six minutes before the interval. He collected from Hackshaw and shot goalwards, following up on the save by the goalkeeper to nail home the rebound.
Puerto Rico kept themselves in the match with a goal early in the second half and did in fact cause some anxious moments at the back for T&T, forcing goalkeeper Denzil Smith to pull off a couple vital saves later in the half. But Lee would put T& 3-1 ahead with another neat low right footed finish in the 56th from the edge of the box and substitute Sween shot past Calderon from the right of the box for a 4-1 scoreline with just over ten minutes remaining. Francis, for his efforts on the evening was rewarded with a goal in added on time to complete the rout when he skipped past the advancing ‘keeper to slide home into an unprotected goal.
Latapy later said he was delighted with the scoreline but was not prepared to let complacency step in.
“Delighted with the victory, delighted with the work ethic and performances. I think there is a lot that we still need to improve on, in particular, we need to be able to see games out better,” Latapy told TTFA Media after the win. I felt that we were a bit back against the wall in the last twenty minutes when we were leading comfortably. I just want us to understand how to stretch the game when we are winning games and see pick teams off. But there were some very solid performances today. The expectations coming here weren’t very high based on our preparations but as the tournament goes on, expectations are changing,” Latapy added.
Double goalscorer Lee was also in good spirits after his performances on the evening. “It was a good opportunity for me to get into the starting team today and I was pleased to be able to deliver with two goals. It’s a good feeling to get on the scoresheet for your country in a tournament like this and hopefully I can build on in. Hopefully we can continue to keep growing as a team as well for the remaining matches. Our next game is against the US and we’ll be trying to come out ready as best as possible for them on Monday,” Lee said. T&T faces the US in their third match on Monday.
Photo at top shows Isaiah Lee challenging for a ball in the first half against Puerto Rico. Photo/TTFA Media.
T&T Starting eleven – T&T: 1.Denzil Smith (GK); 5.Justin Homer, 16.Luke Singh, 17.Matthew Beal, 3.Derron John, 8.Jabarry Francis, 14.Ethan Bonaparte (19.Shaqkeem Joseph, 55′), 12.Kishon Hackshaw (18.Kerdell Sween, 76′), 15.John-Paul Rochford, 7.Mark Ramdeen (11.Che Benny, 6′), 6.Isaiah Lee.
Substitutes: 20.Jabari Brice (GK), 2.Mikel Mieres, 4.Jerrin Jackie, 9.Jaydon Prowell, 10.Judah Garcia.
Head Coach: Russell Latapy