Offensive blow! Injury forces Garcia, Plaza, Jomal and Roach out of Warriors squad to face US and Costa Rica in WCQ

Trinidad and Tobago men’s team during a training session at Colorado Rapids training ground in Commerce City, Denver, Colorado, just outside the Dick’s Sporting Goods Park—the location for the June 8 World Cup qualifier against the United States.

Levi Garcia, Willis Plaza, Jomal Williams and Akeem Roach, through injury, were all left out of coach Dennis Lawrence’s final 24-man roster to face home sides United States and Costa Rica, on June 8 and 13 respectively, in crucial FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifying fixtures.

Lawrence announced his squad on Sunday in Colorado, USA where a provisional squad had been acclimatizing since May 24.

The Warriors, bottom of the CONCACAF Hex with just three points after four games, will face the United States at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Denver, Colorado then against Costa Rica in San Jose.

Lawrence and his staff have selected goalkeepers Jan-Michael Williams, Marvin Phillip and Adrian Foncette; defenders Carlos Edwards, Aubrey David, Alvin Jones, Radanfah Abu Bakr, Mekeil Williams, Triston Hodge, Shaldon Bateau, Daneil Cyrus and Curtis Gonzales; midfielders Joevin Jones, Andre Boucaud, Kevan George, Hashim Arcia, Khaleem Hyland, Leston Paul, Kevin Molino, Hughtun Hector and Nathan Lewis.

Kenwyne Jones, Jamille Boatswain and Shahdon Winchester are the forwards, while US-based winger Cordell Cato was “released due to disciplinary reasons” according to a press release by the TTFA.

The release didn’t go into detail over the 24-year-old San Jose Earthquakes player.

Winger Garcia, 19, who plays in Holland for Eredivisie club AZ Alkmaar, is said to be nursing a hamstring injury, while forward Plaza, 27, who plays for East Bengal in India, and unattached Roach, 21, who can occupy right wing or centre forward, are both nursing ankle injuries picked up in the training camp.

Lawrence, who will now lead his squad into the final phase of preparations, said, “We are heading into it in a positive frame of mind and ready to focus all our energies into ensuring we prepare as best as possible for what is ahead of us.”

The Dick’s Sporting Goods Park stands some 5,223 feet above sea level and history is also against the Trinidad and Tobago who have never defeated or earned a point against the U.S. in the last three decades.

Altitude is also a factor in San Jose, Costa Rica, some 3,845 feet above sea level. The Warriors have never secured a point in Costa Rica.

“We arrived here (in Colorado) on May 23 to begin a camp with the objective of getting acclimatised with the players available to us, and I am able to say that we were able to get in some proper training which allowed me and the coaching staff to get a good impression of how the players would react under the conditions here,” said Lawrence, the Trinidad and Tobago World Cup 2006 hero and former Wigan Athletic, Everton and Belgium assistant coach under Italian Roberto Martinez.
​Trinidad and Tobago head coach Dennis Lawrence, centre, gives instructions to central defenders Mekeil Williams and Sheldon Bateau during a training session in Commerce City, Denver, Colorado.
Lawrence, who took over as Trinidad and Tobago coach in January, added, “The players have responded positively with a good attitude and the spirit in the camp has been good with everyone having a proper understanding as to why we are here.”

Bottom of the Hex, Trinidad and Tobago lost 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.

Trinidad and Tobago 24-man roster to face the United States (June 8) and Costa Rica (June 13)
Goalkeepers: Jan-Michael Williams, Marvin Phillip (Point Fortin Civic), Adrian Foncette (Police FC);

Defenders: Carlos Edwards, Aubrey David (PS Kemi/Finland), Alvin Jones (W Connection/T&T), Radanfah Abu Bakr (Sūduva Marijampolė/Lithuania), Mekeil Williams (Colorado Rapids/USA), Triston Hodge (W Connection/T&T), Sheldon Bateau (FC Krylia Sovetov Samara/Russia), Daneil Cyrus, Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force/T&T);

Midfielders: Joevin Jones (Seattle Sounders/USA), Andre Boucaud (Dagenham & Redbridge/England, Kevan George (Jacksonville Armada/USA), Hashim Arcia (Defence Force/T&T), Khaleem Hyland (Westerlo/Belgium), Leston Paul, Kevin Molino (Minnesota United/USA), Hughtun Hector (W Connection/T&T) and Nathan Lewis (San Juan Jabloteh/T&T);

Forwards: Kenwyne Jones (Atlanta United/USA), Jamille Boatswain (Defence Force/T&T) and Shahdon Winchester (Murciélagos/Mexico).