Trinidad and Tobago’s Under-23 footballers closed their four-match training camp in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with a convincing 6-1 victory over local club Clarema United at the Lockhart Stadium training pitch yesterday afternoon.
The T&T Under-23s are preparing for the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament, which kicks off later this week in the United States.
Following back-to-back losses to Fort Lauderdale Strikers (2-1) and Canada (1-0), coach Angus Eve’s men gave a polished performance against Clarema, coached by ex-Jamaica international Desmond Smith.
Trinidad and Tobago’s US-based midfielder Sean De Silva, after joining the camp on Saturday night, made an immediate impression, notching a pair of goals (30th and 40th) and setting up another in the 44th for Columbus Crew midfielder Kevan George. De Silva also had a free kick hitting the crossbar.
T&T’s other goals came from Jamal Gay (24th) and second half substitutes Cordell Cato (75th) and Shahdon Winchester five minutes from full time.
After enjoying the better of the early exchanges, Trinidad and Tobago, for the fifth successive match, conceded first when Akeeba Marshall’s low effort was deflected past goalkeeper Andre Marchan in the 24th minute.
It didn’t take long for Eve’s men to respond as two minutes later Joevin Jones smartly held two men off before playing one through for Gay and the Caledonia AIA forward slotted past the Clarema goalkeeper.
And then four minutes later, De Silva made a run on the left of the box and cut back on to his left before unleashing a shot into the right corner to put T&T 2-1 ahead.
The go-ahead goal spurred them on further with De Silva again involved. The College of Charleston player collected wide from Jones and was fouled just outside the box. De Silva then curled one on the near post for George to stab home from close range.
Trinidad and Tobago continued to dominate as they surged forward and punished Clarema again just before the break. Micah Lewis’ penetrative run led to him whipping a ball over for De Silva to comfortably hit home on an open far post.
Eve reverted to almost his entire regular starting team after resting them in the loss to Canada and it seemed to have paid off. And with a healthy lead at half time he opted to put on Winchester and Cato, as well as Jomal Williams, Kareem Moses, Marcus Joseph and Trevin Caesar in the second half.
Cato’s burst of speed was again evident and he put his name on the scoresheet when he took on three defenders before directing a right footer into the net from just outside the box, with Winchester lurking inside the area. But the W Connection striker was not to be left out as soon after he met a through ball and took his time before pushing the ball past the Clarema keeper in the 85th minute.
Eve is set to announce his final 20-man squad for the CONCACAF qualifiers today, prior to the team’s departure to California on Wednesday. He will continue the camp with training sessions in Fort Lauderdale.
“I think it was a really good way to finish the training matches. The team didn’t give us a bad run by any means but we worked on a couple things and the players applied themselves well today,” Eve told Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) media officer Shaun Fuentes after the match, which was the second win in four games in Fort Lauderdale after an opening 4-1 victory over Honduras 5 Stars last week Sunday.
“We still have a couple things to polish up on and we’ll be working on this over the next couple days before we head over to LA. But I was happy with our finishing today and the aggression as well. Now it’s that time where it’s the difficult part where the final team has to be named and some players have to be left out. They are all part of the squad but, unfortunately, we can’t pick everyone to go into the tournament. From here into the tournament the focus will be on our three matches with no other distractions whatsoever,” Eve added.