Despite the minor hiccup of players not receiving their luggage in the US yesterday, coach Angus Eve and his Soca Warriors are eager to correct their wrongs against the USA, when the teams meet today in the first of two quarterfinal matches in Division A’ of the Concacaf Nations League in Austin, Texas.
The match is scheduled to be played at 10 pm at the Q2 Stadium before an expected full house. However, both the Warriors and the US have their own beef to settle going into the encounter.
Eve’s charges are anxious to overturn the embarrassment of a 6-0 drubbing by the Americans in the last Concacaf Gold Cup at home, however, the USA, for all its triumphs over the men in red, white and black, which includes a 1-0 purger in 1989 that resulted in a river of tears at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, are still heartbroken by a 2-1 loss to the Warriors that prevented them from qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.
Eve told the media his charges have said the 6-0 humiliation to the US will never happen to them again.
The Warriors settled down to serious preparation, some two weeks ago, and are totally aware of the plans of the US team according to Eve.
He said: “We knew that they were going to bring us into an atmosphere like this because they always do that to us. The good thing is that a lot of our players play in the US, a lot of our players play in Europe. Also, we know of the intensity and the rivalry, although it is very lopsided in favour of the US side, it is still a rivalry because they are very sore because of what happened to them in 2017.
“They can’t relive that, and also they had some issues in the last World Cup, with players, coaches and family members and stuff like that, so they have something to put right also. And we know it also, we’re feeling the pain still from that 6-0 drubbing we got from them in the Gold Cup, so we want to correct that also.
“We have pride and we want to come out there and put our best foot forward for our country. We know it’s going to be a mammoth task, but we want to go out and really compete with them this series,” Eve explained further.
The USA, in addition to their advantage in the stats between the teams, is also ranked 10th in the world, which would be an ideal test for a nation that has been on the mend. Eve made it public his team has been in the process of rebuilding, yet admitted that the pace of their progress has been tremendous, judging from their ability to get into the Nations League ‘A’ division and stay there.
In fact, their second-place finish in Group A came as a major surprise after an unbeaten run for the opening three matches against Curacao, El Salvador and Guatemala. Eve said they would have to do something special for the matches.
“I think the guys are fit and fit from the standpoint of body fitness, but as I said before they will be stretched for match fitness and we have to be tactically aware and tactically astute in cutting down the mileage they run in the game,” said Eve.
“So we will have to do some different stuff in the match, but at the end of the day, we’re here to play. We’re here to compete, we know what happened to us at the Gold Cup, so the boys are really motivated, so that is not to happen to us again. The stats are overwhelmingly against us in the series against the Americans, but as I said before, we’re motivated and we want to go out there and work very hard.”
The challenge will be greater should they advance to the semifinals of the tournament. Eve said it would do a whole lot of good for the country, with a place in the Copa America also at stake with a semifinal berth.
“It’s the first time the country is facing this situation to be fair. We’ve never been in the quarterfinals of the Nations League before, so that’s unchartered waters for us. Also, we’re playing the 10th-ranked team in the world and we’re way down the pecking order. But we’re in the rebuilding stage and we’re building faster than we expected because we are in the A.
“We’ve maintained our position in the ‘A’ so anything we get now, anything we have to play for we’re going to play with our hearts. Anything we get now is going to be a bonus for us, and the opportunity to play in the Copa is going to be a massive bonus for us. So we’re not taking these games lightly, we’re going to put our best foot forward.”
Goalkeepers: Denzil Smith (Defence Force), Christopher Biggette (Denzil Smith), Rushon Sandy (Yavapai College/USA).
Defenders: Aubrey David (CS Cartagines/Costa Rica), Jesse Williams (Central Valley Fuego/USA), Shannon Gomez (San Antonio FC/USA), Justin Garcia (Defence Force), Ross Russell Jr (La Horquetta Rangers), Alvin Jones (Tiger Tanks Club Sando), Andre Raymond (Vilar de Perdizes/Portugal).
Midfielders: Michael Poon-Angeron (AC Port-of-Spain), Daniel Phillips (St Johnstone FC/Scotland), Neveal Hackshaw (Oakland Roots/USA), Noah Powder (North Colorado Hailstorm/USA), Andre Rampersad (HFC Wanderers/Canada), Kristiam Lee-Him (IFK Eskilstuna/Sweden), Kaile Auvray (Mount Pleasant/Jamaica).
Forwards: Reon Moore (Defence Force), Malcolm Shaw (Atletico Ottawa/Canada), Real Gill (Tiger Tanks Club Sando), Levi Garcia (AEK Athens/Greece), Natahniel James (Mount Pleasant/Jamaica), Ryan Telfer (Miami FC/USA).
Goalkeepers: Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest), Gaga Slonina (Eupen), Matt Turner (Nottingham Forest).
Defenders: Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic), Sergiño Dest (PSV Eindhoven), Kristoffer Lund (Palermo), Tim Ream (Fulham), Chris Richards (Crystal Palace), Antonee Robinson (Fulham), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), Joe Scally (Mönchengladbach).
Midfielders: Paxten Aaronson (Eintracht Frankfurt), Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo), Lennard Maloney (Heidenheim), Weston McKennie (Juventus), Yunus Musah (AC Milan), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund), Malik Tillman (PSV Eindhoven).
Forwards: Brenden Aaronson (Union Berlin), Folarin Balogun (Monaco), Kevin Paredes (Wolfsburg), Ricardo Pepi (PSV Eindhoven), Alex Zendejas (Club Ámerica).