Five Things to Know about Trinidad & Tobago

The defending champion USMNT hosts Trinidad & Tobago in the first of home-and-home matches in the Concacaf Nations League quarterfinals in Austin, Texas on Thursday, November 16 at 9 p.m. ET (TNT, Telemundo, Universo, MAX, Peacock, FDP).
By: Michael Lewis

The two-time champion U.S. Men's National Team begin a vital home-and-home series against Trinidad & Tobago in the Concacaf Nations League quarterfinals at Q2 Stadium on Thursday, Nov. 16 at 9 p.m. ET (TNT, Telemundo, Universo, MAX Peacock, Futbol de Primera).

The series has ramifications for two competitions. The winner will advance to next year's Nations League semifinals and also book a spot in the 2024 Copa América, which the United States will host from June 20-July 14, 2024.

The USA, which is in 11th place in the latest FIFA rankings, holds a 21-3-4 all-time advantage against Trinidad and Tobago. The 21 victories against Trinidad are the team's second most against any international opponent behind only Mexico (23 wins).

The Soca Warriors have won three of their last four CNL matches since September.

The away leg at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain, Trinidad on Monday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. ET, will be held one day after the 34-year anniversary of one of the most significant goals in U.S. Soccer history. On Nov. 19, 1989, Paul Caligiuri’s boosted the Americans to a 1-0 win on the final day of qualifying for the 1990 FIFA World Cup, as the U.S. reached the tournament for the first time in 40 years.

FOOTBALLING HISTORY

While cricket is Trinidad and Tobago’s first leading sport, soccer was introduced in the 1890s, inter-colonial club matches started soon after and the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation was formed in 1908.

The island nation gained its independence in 1962 and joined FIFA as a full-fledged member association in 1964. Nine years later, the Soca Warriors fell just short of qualifying for the 1974 FIFA World Cup in West Germany when they fell 2-1 to Haiti after some controversial officiating, following which two of the match’s referees were banned for life by FIFA.

Trinidad and Tobago faced heartbreak again during qualifying for the 1990 World Cup. Needing only a draw to qualify for the tournament in Italy, the visiting United States used Paul Caligiuri’s famous “Shot Heard Round the World” to top the hosts 1-0 and qualify for its first World Cup since 1950.

Trinidad finally reached international soccer’s biggest stage in 2006. Rallying from a slow start to the qualifying tournament, the Soca Warriors reached an intercontinental playoff with Bahrain. After a 1-1 draw at home, the Caribbean country won 1-0 on the road to book its ticket to Germany, becoming the smallest nation to qualify for the World Cup until Iceland did in 2018. It was the only time it reached the FIFA World Cup.

The Soca Warriors have found some success in regional and sub-regional competition. Trinidad has qualified for 12 Gold Cups, highlighted by a third-place finish in 2000. The team also reached the quarterfinals twice (2013, 2015). They were also the most successful team in the now-defunct Caribbean Cup, winning the tourney a record eight times.

USMNT VS. TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

Across all competitions and friendlies, the USA holds a 21-3-4 advantage over the Caribbean side.

The first time the sides met, the Americans secured a 2-1 victory in Port of Spain on March 21, 1982, as Rick Davis and Juli Veee found the net.

The next four encounters came during qualifying for the FIFA World Cup, with the USMNT registering a 3-0-1 mark.

The most famous confrontation came on Nov. 19, 1989, when the USA clinched its first World Cup berth since 1950 on the strength of Paul Caligiuri's goal en route to a 1-0 triumph in Port of Spain. That USA team boasted several future inductees to the National Soccer Hall of Fame, including Tony Meola, John Harkes, Tab Ramos, Mike Windischmann, Bruce Murray, Peter Vermes and Caligiuri.

Trinidad's biggest accomplishment was a 2-1 result during 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying in Couva, Trinidad on Oct. 10, 2017. The loss eliminated squelched the USA’s hopes of reaching the tournament, breaking a string of seven consecutive World Cup appearances. T&T won on the strength of an Alvin Jones score and an Omar Gonzalez own goal. Christian Pulisic scored for the Americans.

The most recent match between the teams came during the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup, as Jesús Ferreira recorded a first-half hat-trick in the final Group A match to a 6-0 victory on July 2 in Charlotte, N.C. Cade Cowell, Gianluca Busio and Brandon Vazquez added second-half goals as the USA clinched the top spot.

RECENT MATCHES

Since the Gold Cup defeat, Trinidad has competed in four CNL contests, posting a 3-1-0 record. The Caribbean side started with a 1-0 win over Curacao, with Nathaniel James striking for a dramatic goal in the 87th minute in Port of Spain on Sept. 7. In a see-saw battle three days later, T&T beat El Salvador, 3-2, in San Salvador. Ryan Telfer, Malcolm Shaw and Justin Garcia (game-winner in the 72nd minute) paced the visitors.

The Soca Warriors overcame a two-goal deficit in the opening half to record a 3-2 win over Guatemala in Port of Spain. Alvin Jones started the rally with a 36th-minute penalty kick. Reon Moore equalized in the 54th minute and James put home another late dramatic game-winner, in the 89th minute.

Their streak was snapped in a 5-3 defeat at Curacao on Oct. 17. For the second successive game, Trinidad fell behind, this time by a 4-0 deficit, before a second-second rally fell short. Moore (68th minute), Kristian Lee Him (74th minute) and Kareem Moses (86th minute) made it interesting.

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO MANAGER

Angus Eve took over the reins as head coach and the Under-20 coach on Sept. 2, 2021. He replaced former England international Terry Fenwick, who failed to get the side past the first round of 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying.

His coaching experience includes stints as an assistant coach with San Juan Jabloteh and Ma Pau Stars in the TT Pro League and manager of the Trinidad Under-23 squad during qualifying for the 2012 Olympics.

Eve, 51, played 117 times as a midfielder for the Soca Warriors, scoring 34 goals. On the club level, he played for Joe Public, Defence Force, and San Juan Jabloteh in the TT League and one season for Chester City (England).

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO ROSTER

Head coach Angus Eve summoned 23 players for the series. Most of the team plays overseas (15) with eight performers domestically based. Eve said that he left some TT Pro League players off the squad because the league doesn't start until Nov. 25 and that he wanted more match-fit performers whose seasons recently had ended or were in progress.

Club Sando and Defense Force have the most domestic players on the team, with three apiece.

Six players perform in the United States at various levels. They include goalkeeper Rushon Sandy (Yavapai College), defenders Jesse Williams (Central Valley Fuego, USL League One) and Shannon Gomez (San Antonio FC, USL Championship), midfielders Neveal Hackshaw (Oakland Roots, USL Championship) and Noah Powder (Northern Colorado Hailstorm, USL League One) and forward Ryan Telfer (Miami FC, USL Championship).

Sandy, a sophomore for plays for a junior college that is based in Prescott, Ariz., is the only uncapped player on the squad. He recently completed his season with Yavapai College, earning Arizona Community College Athletic Conference second team honors.

The Soca Warriors goalkeepers - Denzil Smith, Christopher Biggette and Sandy - have a combined total of six international matches under their belts.

Forward Levi Garcia has returned to the squad after missing the four previous CNL matches due to an injury. Garcia, who tallied the opening goal for AEK Athens in the 11th minute of its 3-0 home win over Lamia in the Greek Super League on Sunday, Nov. 12, has scored eight international goals in 41 appearances.

Another forward Malcolm Shaw, who missed games against Guatemala and Curaco, also is back on the team.

Telfer leads all Trinidad players with nine goals in 26 matches.

Defender Aubrey David, 33, who competes for CS Cartagines (Costa Rica), is the most capped player (77).

One name USMNT supporters should be familiar with is defender Alvin Jones, who scored a goal the Soca Warriors 2-1 victory over the Americans in 2017, which eliminated the USA from contention for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Jones, who has four international goals in 48 matches, plays for Club Sando. He is the younger brother of former Trinidad international forward Joevin Jones, who performed for the Chicago Fire, Seattle Sounders and Inter Miami CF in Major League Soccer.

DETAILED ROSTER BY POSITION

GOALKEEPERS (3): Denzil Smith (Club Sando; 5/0), Christopher Biggette (Defence Force; 0/0), Rushon Sandy (Yavapai College/USA; 0/0)

DEFENDERS (7): Alvin Jones (Club Sando; 48/4), Aubrey David CS Cartagines/CRC; 77/1), Justin Garcia (Defence Force; 15/1), Ross Russell (La Horquetta Rangers; 14/0), Jesse Williams (Central Valley Fuego/USA; 9/0), Andre Raymond (Vilar de Perdizes/POR; 4/0), Shannon Gomez (San Antonio FC/USA; 12/0)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Neveal Hackshaw (Oakland Roots/USA; 39/2), Noah Powder (Northern Colorado Hailstorm/USA; 17/2), Michel Poon-Angeron (AC Port of Spain; 11/0), Kristian Lee-Him (IFK Eskilstuna/SWE; 4/1), Kaile Auvray (Mount Pleasant/JAM; 9/0), Andre Rampersad (Halifax Wanderers/CAN; 9/1), Daniel Phillips (St. Johnstone FC/SCO; 8/0)

FORWARDS (6): Ryan Telfer (Miami FC; 26/9), Real Gill (Club Sando; 4/1), Reon Moore (Defence Force; 24/7), Nathaniel James (Mount Pleasant/JAM; 4/2), Levi Garcia (AEK Athens/GRE; 41/8), Malcolm Shaw (Atletico Ottawa/CAN; 5/1)