Roster depth lifts Trinidad’s Gold Cup spirits

Trinidad & Tobago (pictured) celebrates after scoring against Haiti in a closed-door training match on July 3, 2015, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Photo courtesy of the Trinidad & Tobago Football Association)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida – With Trinidad & Tobago’s Gold Cup opener just days away, an air of optimism is starting to come over head coach Stephen Hart.

His team defeated Haiti 1-0 in a closed-door training match on Friday thanks to a fifth minute goal by Central FC forward Willis Plaza.

The result not only left Hart feeling good about the potential starting XI, but also about the roster depth required to make a deep run in the competition. Two years ago, the Soca Warriors reached the quarterfinals before dropping a narrow 1-0 decision to Mexico.

Hart was pleased by the performances of three forwards: U.S.-based forward Rundell Winchester (21), who started against Haiti, and second-half substitutes Kadeem Corbin (19) and Jonathan Glenn.

“They are three sort of dynamic players (and) they love to run behind,” said Hart. “They are players that have good pace and energy. I think both Corbin and Winchester need to learn how to use their qualities better. Glenn is almost a pure finisher. He runs behind and he is very composed in the finishing. Overall I am quite pleased so far.”

In regard to the squad’s burgeoning roster flexibility, even in the absence of injured attacker Kevin Molino, the 55-year-old manager added, “Yes. I thought Kevan George was outstanding against Haiti. He hurried. He picked up balls in the midfield and he cut out passes into the passing lane. He did everything and showed high energy. And then [Khaleem] Hyland and [Andre] Boucaud came on and settled us down and they moved the ball quickly. Of course they play differently. So, yes, it shows we have a bit of depth and variety in midfield.

The side will have a couple more training sessions in Fort Lauderdale, before traveling to Chicago on Tuesday for the Gold Cup encounter against Guatemala on July 9.

“I think we need to do a little more work tactically,” Hart finished. “Our mentality when the ball is lost to try and win it back. We still have a tendency to switch off on occasions. And even when some players are switched on the ones behind them are not picking up the outlet passes quick enough. We need to keep plugging away at the sort of the mindset of defending higher up the pitch and earlier.”