For Canada, Wednesday’s friendly at the Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill, Fla., is just a primer for bigger games to come next month. But for Trinidad and Tobago, it’s the beginning of a very long road back to respectability.
Canada are preparing for two make-or-break CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers in September, yet with 2014 already out of reach for Trinidad, the Soca Warriors are looking a long way down the road. Their eyes will be on brooding a generation that will attempt to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The Canadians, meanwhile, are in a solid position in World Cup qualifying. Back in June, a 1-0 win over Cuba was followed by a 0-0 draw with Honduras, leaving the Canucks second in their qualifying group behind Panama. In preparation for next month's top-of-the-group showdown, head coach Stephen Hart has assembled a mix of youth and experience in attempt to both hone his team’s match sharpness, and perhaps find some new attacking answers for the games that matter.
Twelve years ago, Canada and Trinidad had one of the fiercest rivalries in the region, playing each other three times in the course of a single year.
Canada gained the upper hand by beating T&T 1-0 in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, but the Soca Warriors got their revenge in a big way. First they beat Canada 2-0 in Edmonton in July in a World Cup qualifier, then added the final dagger that killed Canada’s hopes of qualifying for Korea/Japan 2002 with a 4-0 win in Trinidad in September.
The rivalry has been dormant ever since, as the two sides haven't run into each other in the Gold Cup, World Cup qualifying or any friendlies.
Trinidad and Tobago Outlook
A participant in the 2006 World Cup in Germany, the Soca Warriors were one of the bigger players in CONCACAF. But the retirement of Dwight Yorke, Russell Latapy and Stern John has left Trinidad's cupboard relatively bare, and they've paid the price. T&T suffered an early elimination from 2014 World Cup qualifying after they were outmatched by Guyana in first-round group play.
Even worse, the team is reportedly in difficult straits financially and may not be playing any games at home in the near future, with Wednesday’s match taking place at a venue known primarily as a cricket ground. With their eyes firmly set on starting to build some momentum ahead of the 2013 Gold Cup, their next major tournament opportunity, head coach Hudson Charles has called in a relatively young squad.
Two MLS representatives — Vancouver defender Carlyle Mitchell and Philadelphia attacker Keon Daniel — are among the most experienced players in the group.
Canada Team Outlook
While most of the bigger names on the Canadian team like Simeon Jackson, Olivier Occean and Atiba Hutchinson were left at their respective club in Europe, there are still a number of veterans in the squad. TFC's Terry Dunfield and Montreal's Patrice Bernier are both fit and looking to get back into the squad on a regular basis while fellow MLSers Julian de Guzman, Andrew Hainault and Ante Jazic all played key roles in the games in June.
There is also a healthy infusion of youth, as four members of the Under-23 team that nearly qualified for the Olympics are also on the roster.
Players to Watch
Trinidad: Devorn Jorsling
At 28 years old, Jorsling is one of the older members of a very inexperienced Trinidad team. Jorsling plays for Trinidadian top-flight side Caledonia AIA, a participant in the 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League. Jorsling will likely lead the T&T attack as his 16 goals in 29 caps is well above any of the other players in the team.
Canada: Lucas Cavallini
Canada’s struggles with capitalizing on goalscoring chances have certainly been well documented and with Occean and Iain Hume both focusing on their respective clubs, a chance to perform has fallen into Cavallini’s lap. With not many out-and-out attacking players in this roster, it’s quite conceivable that Cavallini will be starting on Wednesday and a goal or two in his international debut might make some of the more senior players in the squad sweat just a bit.
Trinidad and Tobago
GOALKEEPERS (2): Clean John (North East Stars/Trinidad and Tobago), Jan-Michael Williams (W Connection/Trinidad and Tobago)
DEFENDERS (7): Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force/ Trinidad and Tobago), Joevin Jones (W Connection/ Trinidad and Tobago), Carlyle Mitchell (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Kareem Moses (North East Stars/ Trinidad and Tobago), Rodell Elock (Defence Force/ Trinidad and Tobago), Daneil Cyrus (W Connection/ Trinidad and Tobago), Seon Power (North East Stars/ Trinidad and Tobago)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Keon Daniel (Philadelphia Union), Leston Paul (University of South Florida), Hughton Hector (Song Lam Nghe An/Vietnam), Kevin Molino (Orlando City), Lester Peltier (Slovan Bratislava/Slovakia), Clyde Leon (W Connection/ Trinidad and Tobago)
FORWARDS (3): Richard Roy (Defence Force/ Trinidad and Tobago), Darryl Robers (Charlotte Eagles), Devorn Jorsling (Caledonia AIA/ Trinidad and Tobago)
GOALKEEPERS (2): Milan Borjan (Sivasspor/Turkey), Lars Hirschfeld (Vålerenga/Norway)
DEFENDERS (7): Nik Ledgerwood (Hammarby IF/Sweden), Russell Teibert (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Dejan Jakovic (D.C. United), André Hainault (Houston Dynamo), Marcel de Jong (FC Augsburg/Germany), Ante Jazic (Chivas USA), Doneil Henry (Toronto FC)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Julian de Guzman (FC Dallas), Will Johnson (Real Salt Lake), Terry Dunfield (Toronto FC), Jonathan Beaulieu-Bourgault (Unattached), Pedro Pacheco (Santa Clara/Portugal), Patrice Bernier (Montreal Impact)
FORWARDS (3): Tosaint Ricketts (Unattached), Lucas Cavallini (Nacional/Uruguay), Evan James (Montreal Impact)