Focus Switches to Cleveland for T&T Senior Men

The big focus for Gold Cup 2019 shifts has shifted to Cleveland for Saturday’s second Group encounter between hosts United States and Trinidad and Tobago.

The hype is centred around this clash as it has been billed “The Return” following T&T’s 2-1 victory in Couva in 2017 which knocked the US out of the Russia 2018 World Cup. The media here has been focusing on the matchup and the hosts are expected to be backed by a partisan home crowd at the First Energy Stadium downtown Cleveland on Saturday night.

As T&T’s players walked off the pitch through the tunnel on their way to the dressing room after Tuesday’s 2-0 defeat to Panama, they passed by the US players  who were lined up on their way out for the warm up ahead of their encounter with Guyana. Minnesota United forward Kevin Molino and US forward Jozy Altidore exchanged brief greetings. “Good to see you” Altidore said as both touched arms.

Both the T&T and US teams then traveled on the same CONCACAF Charter flight out of Minnesota for Cleveland on Wednesday evening. The two teams occupied different ends of the plane during the one hour and 26 minute journey.

All things aside, Molino expects them to come with vengeance in their eyes.

“They will be coming hard at us. We know this for sure. But I don’t think the hype of the game will be a distraction. We know what we have ahead of us and what we need to do. Come gameday we have to stay focused and go all in to get the result we need,” Molino told TTFA Media.

US midfielder Michael Bradley told the press that it’s two different occasions.

“Totally different team. There’s like two or three guys here (in US squad) who were in Trinidad. So I’m not sure other than it being a nice narrative for you guys (media), I’m not sure inside of the group if it carries a whole lot of weight,” Bradley said.

When asked whether T&T would be confident having six players in its current squad from the one that beat them in 2017, he responded, “That’s not a question for me. Given the result tonight (Tuesday), I expect them to come out and play like they need to get three points. I have no idea if the game from those two years ago means anything to them.”

Deportivo Saprissa defender Aubrey David said the 2-0 loss to Panama hurt the T&T players.

“It was very disappointing. We were hurt about it and we know we have to dig deep and bounce back. There are no two ways about it,” David told TTFA Media after T&T trained under rainy conditions at the Laurel School training facility at Butler Campus on Thursday morning.

“As a team we are regrouping because we felt we needed to come away with at least a point on Tuesday. We put ourselves in a position where we either win or nothing at this Gold Cup. We’ve spoken about it as a group and we know it to ourselves that we owe it to the people and the coaching staff to come good,” David continued.

“We know what football does to our people and our country and we all know the state of the country back home now. Good results can only boost the moral of the people and the economy also. We need to pull out all the stops,” David added.

T&T will have an evening session at the match venue weather permitting on Friday.

Photo – T&T captain Khaleem Hyland leads his troops on the training pitch at Laurel School on Thursday. Photo/TTFA Media