The U.S. Men’s National Team closes the Final Round of 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying with hopes of clinching an eighth consecutive World Cup berth when it visits Trinidad & Tobago on Tuesday, Oct. 10 (8 p.m. ET on beIN Sports, UNIVERSO).
Trinidad & Tobago is the southernmost country in the Caribbean, sitting just 11 miles north of Venezuelan territory. Made up of two main islands, a majority of the population lives on the bigger land mass of Trinidad, while about 60,000 people inhabit Tobago.
A former British colony, drivers on both islands stick to the left side of the road, while the country’s currency is the Trinidad & Tobago Dollar, known locally just as “TT”.
The Soca Warriors
No, Soca isn’t another word for our sport. It’s actually a style of music popular in the Caribbean and more specifically, Trinidad & Tobago, where it originated. Invented by Lord Shorty, Soca is short for “Soul of Calypso” and fuses the popular genre with Indo-Caribbean beats.
Much like Jamaica’s claim as the birthplace to the reggae genre has earned their national team the nickname of The Reggae Boyz, Trinidad & Tobago’s teams are known as The Soca Warriors.
History & Recent Performances
Trinidad & Tobago has risen from relative obscurity to become one of the powers of the Caribbean and a top nation in the CONCACAF region. In 1989, the dual-island nation came within one win of qualifying for its first World Cup, only to fall 1-0 to the United States in the final match of World Cup Qualifying. While disappointing, that run set the basis for the nation’s arrival as an elite side in CONCACAF and 16 years later, T&T went on to become the smallest country to qualify for a World Cup when they clinched a berth at Germany 2006.
With a population of 1.3 million people, Trinidad & Tobago has often found itself punching above its weight in the region, but their advancement to the Final Round of qualifying for the 2002, 2006, 2010 and current 2018 World Cup cycle has shown they’re a team that cannot be taken lightly.
Success hasn’t come without its share of drama, however. Within the last year, the Soca Warriors have had three different head coaches. Stephen Hart was sent packing after the team dropped its opening two matches of Final Round World Cup Qualifying last November and his replacement Tom Saintfiet last only two months, resigning after T&T failed to qualify for this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Known best for scoring the goal that sent T&T to the 2006 FIFA World Cup, former Soca Warriors defender Dennis Lawrence took over the side ahead of the March World Cup Qualifying matches, leading the team to its only victory of the Hex, a 1-0 home win vs. Panama that the U.S. should be mightily thankful for.
MNT History vs. Trinidad & Tobago
The MNT visits a Trinidad & Tobago side that it has faced three times during 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying. The two teams played to a 0-0 draw on Nov. 17, 2015, in Port of Spain before the USA earned a resounding 4-0 victory on Sept. 6, 2016 to finish atop Semifinal Round Group C. Most recently, the U.S utilized two second-half goals from Christian Pulisic to earn a 2-0 win on June 8 in Commerce City, Colo.
In 23 previous meetings, the U.S. MNT holds a strong 17-2-4 edge against the Soca Warriors, going 13-1-3 in World Cup Qualifying and 4-1-2 in away matches. Of the three away qualifying contests the U.S. didn’t win, two came when the MNT had already clinched a place at either the World Cup (0-0 D on Nov. 11, 2001) or the Final Round (1-2 L on Oct. 15, 2008).
While Trinidad & Tobago will not qualify for the World Cup, it would like nothing more than to return the favor for when the U.S. ended its 1990 World Cup hopes when Paul Caligiuri’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” gave the MNT a 1-0 win on Nov. 19, 1989 at Hasely Crawford Stadium to clinch the USA’s first tournament berth since 1950. Unlike 1989, this time the game will be played at the much smaller Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, about a 45-minute drive from the capital, Port of Spain.
Learn more about the USA’s history vs. Trinidad & Tobago.
Trinidad & Tobago Roster
Below is the Trinidad & Tobago roster which head coach Dennis Lawrence summoned back on Sept. 28.
Six players in the squad currently play in the United States, including Seattle Sounders FC winger Joevin Jones and Colorado Rapids defender Mekeil Williams.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Adrian Foncette (Police FC), Greg Ranjitsingh (Louisville City FC/USA), Glenroy Samuel (Morvant Caledonia United)
DEFENDERS (8): Daneil Cyrus (Juticalpa/HON), Kevan George (Jacksonville Armada/USA), Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force), Triston Hodge (DirecTV W Connection), Kareem Moses (North Carolina FC/USA), Josiah Trimmingham (Club Sando), Kevon Villaroel (North East Stars), Mekeil Williams (Colorado Rapids/USA)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Neil Benjamin Jr. (W Connection), Levi Garcia (AZ Alkmaar/NED), Khaleem Hyland (Al-Faisaly Harmah/KSA), Joevin Jones (Seattle Sounders/USA), Jared London (Club Sando), Nathan Lewis (San Juan Jabloteh), Leston Paul (Pasaquina FC/SLV), Kathon St. Hillaire (St. Ann's Rangers);
FORWARDS (3): Trevin Caesar (Sacramento Republic/USA), Akeem Roach (Vida/HON), Shahdon Winchester (Murcielagos/MEX)