Akeem Roach, Nathan Lewis and Jamille Boatswain in Warriors acclimatization camp in Colorado

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago players going through their exercises at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Trinidad.

Dennis Lawrence, head coach of the Trinidad and Tobago national team, will face his biggest challenge since taking up the post in January when he faces the United States in Colorado in one of two crucial upcoming FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifiers.

Trinidad and Tobago will play the United States on June 8 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, some 5,223 feet above sea level, and history is against the visitors who have never defeated or earned a point against the Americans in the last three decades.

Lawrence’s side will then travel to Costa Rica and will be hosted in San Jose, which is also at altitude, some 3,845 feet above sea level. Trinidad and Tobago have never secured a point in Costa Rica.

“We’ve got the two games, against the US and Costa Rica, so the idea has been to prepare the boys in the best possible way,” Lawrence told the TTFA.

“Everyone understands the history shows that it’s not a nice place for us in terms of collecting points but we have to believe that we can go there and get points. We have to go there and be positive and brave as I continue to say. (What) I have tried to emphasise to the boys is that we are leaving (home) and starting with a point, so the idea is we are not going there (United States) to give away the point, but instead add to the point that we’ve already got.

“The main thing is to make sure that from an acclimatisation point that we are well prepared physically. In terms of how we intend to approach the games, we are going to be on the front foot and try to compete with them (United States). We are going to go toe-to-toe because I don’t think we can afford to sit back and allow the US to take full control of the game. It’s not going to be easy because historically it’s not a generous place for us to go to, but we need to try and start thinking differently now and believe we can go there and accomplish things.

“When we get to Costa Rica we will deal with that but the idea now is to come away with a positive result in the next game which is against the United States.”

Lawrence, his coaching staff, and a seventeen (17) member training squad departed on Tuesday for a live-in training camp in Colorado and will be based at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Goalkeepers Jan-Michael Williams, Marvin Phillip and Adrian Foncette; defenders Daneil Cyrus, Alvin Jones, Triston Hodge, Carlos Edwards and Curtis Gonzales; midfielders Leston Paul, Hughtun Hector, Nathan Lewis, Hashim Arcia and Jomal Williams; and forwards Jamille Boatswain, Akeem Roach, Willis Plaza and Shahdon Winchester were all selected for the trip after some five days of training in Trinidad.

“The idea is to get there (Colorado) and try to acclimatise as quick(ly) as possible, so we will be starting work there immediately. Seventeen players will be traveling on Tuesday. (But) some will be coming back because the final squad has not been selected as yet. We expect to have the full contingent on June 4.”

Europe-based midfielder Khaleem Hyland, defender Sheldon Bateau and winger Levi Garcia are expected to join the training squad later this week.

In Colorado, Lawrence has arranged two closed-door matches against Major League Soccer (MLS) outfit Colorado Rapids as part of his preparations for the upcoming WC qualifiers.

“We will play Colorado Rapids in two matches and it suits us because they are a home team there. It will be a good competitive test for us.”

Lawrence stood in charge of two previous qualifiers managed a win against Panama but lost against Mexico, with both matches contested at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Trinidad.

Trinidad and Tobago are bottom of the Hex with just three points after four games, losing to Costa Rica 2-0 and Honduras 3-1 last year, before rebounding to a confidence-boosting 1-0 triumph over Panama, but suffered a heart-wrenching 1-0 defeat to Mexico after having an opening goal by Joevin Jones disallowed.

The top three teams of the Hex’ are guaranteed a spot at the 2018 Russia World Cup while the fourth-placed nation will face Asia’s fifth-placed team in a play-off.