A Look Back At Joevin Jones In The 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs

 

 

Joevin Jones and the Seattle Sounders are back in the MLS Cup Playoffs and are looking to defend their title starting this Sunday against the Vancouver Whitecaps

Last postseason, Jones was a pivotal cog in the Seattle Sounders squad that saw him provide 3 assists on their way to the MLS Cup final. He also put away a spot kick in the penalty shootout that would help solidify their place as MLS Champions.

Going into this season, Joevin once again proved that he was one of the best right backs in MLS. Along with his defensive duties, he piled up 11 assists this season along with a goal. The 11 assists rank him as the only defender in the top 20 assist leaders.

After this season, Jones will be heading to Germany to play for German second division club Darmstadt.

Let’s look back on his key moments in last year’s MLS Playoffs and we wish the best for him in Germany in January.

joevin-jones-sounders.jpg

Advertisements

What If Kyrie Irving Decided To Play For Australia?

kyrie-irving-matthew-dellavedova-d978224aa36a67e2.jpg

We all know about the blockbuster trade that took place in the NBA offseason that saw one of the best guards in the NBA today, Kyrie Irving, wanting out of LeBron James’ shadow in Cleveland and requested a trade. He would wound up with the Boston Celtics and now together with Gordon Hayward and Al Horford, they were to pose a stronger challenge  to the Cavaliers. Of course with the unfortunate injury to Hayward, the Celtics would have to wait until next season for that to happen.

I thought about this recently and remembered that Kyrie was born in Melbourne, Australia and holds dual citizenship as an American and Australian. So a thought came into my head:

What if  (just for the sake of speculation and shenanigans) Kyrie Irving trolled the basketball world and announced, “I don’t want to play for Team USA. I’m want to escape the shadow of LeBron James and play for my first home of Australia for the next Olympics.

Yannick Quintal (a madman)

First of all you’d probably put me in a straight jacket and lock me up in an insane asylum. Next you’d go on to ask why would Kyrie leave a sure gold medal team that could field him and 4 D-League players and still win a Gold medal. But hear me out ok.

Look at the Australian national team last year:

11896176_1154765391219166_799838656450239919_o.jpg

In the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil, a talented Australia team that consisted of three NBA champions (Mills, Bogut and Dellavedova) went 4-1 in their group stage; the loss coming from Team USA by 10 points. It wasn’t USA’s strongest team with superstars like Steph Curry and LeBron James noticeably absent (not sure if LeBron will be there for 2020) but a potent team nonetheless. Australia fell a point short of medalling, but they were in my eyes one of the more exciting and fun teams to watch in the Olympics.

So even if Kyrie is committed to playing for Team USA, for imagination’s sake let’s say he does switch national allegiances, how would the team look? What are its chances in the Olympics and how would they fare against Team USA? I’ve come up with a possible starting five based on the available player talent that Australia has in the NBA and how much of the players they may become by the time the Olympics roll around.

To clarify on the info provided, their ages are how old they will be by the time 2020 rolls around and the stats are their current NBA stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.

 

POINT GUARD

Kyrie Irving

gettyimages-856843438.jpg

Age: 25 (29 in 2020)

Career Avgs: 21.6 PPG, 5.5 APG, 3.4 RPG, 45.6% FG, 38.2% 3P

Advance Stats: 21.2 PER, .560 TS%, 40.7 WS

 

The man of the hour. One of the best point guards in today’s NBA. Scoring, handles, playmaking ability you name it. Scores inside, outside and in between. Defense needs work but he’ll get by. Dellavedova’s a good point guard but Kyrie’s a significant upgrade that adds more firepower to the offense and the attention he gathers can draw defenders to him, allowing him to find other teammates for easy buckets.

Only question I would have for Kyrie is: can he lead? Can he be that vocal guy that the team rallies around? Sure his play will do the talking as he’s been quoted as saying so, but can he get his guys to rally around him when the team is down. Other than that, he’ll elevate Australia basketball to a new level of competitiveness.


SHOOTING GUARD

Dante Exum

Dante-Exum-Utah-Jazz.jpg

Age: 22 (26 in 2020)

Career Avgs.: 5.4 PPG, 2.1 APG, 1.8 RPG, 38.5% FG, 30.8% 3P

Advanced Stats: 6.8 PER, .488 TS%, 1.1 WS

It’s been a rough start in the NBA for the former first round lottery pick. Injuries have kept him out of the fold for the Jazz and more importantly impeded his development. He missed out the entire 2015 season with a severe knee injury while playing for Australia and he’s set to miss extended time this year after successful shoulder surgery.

Looking at it right now, Exum’s out of position. From a small sample size at least, his shooting numbers won’t allow much floor spacing. Can he play off the ball? Would it be wise to play virtually 2 ball dominant guards on the floor? (3 if you count the PF seen later)?

But let’s look at him hypothetically 4 years down the road. He’s 6’6″ 190 lbs, with a 6’9″ wingspan so he’s got the size and athleticism to guard 1’s and 2’s. Let’s say he does develop that outside shot, which we saw glimpses in Summer League this season. Let’s say he does stay relatively healthy during that 4 year span so he has that same athleticism to rise high for those block shots against driving guards and that shoulder heals so it doesn’t affect his jumpshots.

Four years down the road, we could be seeing a combo guard that be a two-way threat on both sides of the floor. He has a respectable 3 point shot and if defenders eat the pump fake, he could drive to the basket or find the open man on the floor. He’s a player with a lot of upside but it all depends on whether he can stay healthy and stay on the floor and further develop his game.


 

SMALL FORWARD

Joe Ingles

usa_today_10009648.0.jpg

Age: 30 (34 in 2020)

Career Avgs: 5.6 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 2.1 APG, 43.7 FG%, 40.4% 3P

Advanced Stats: 11.1 PER, .578 TS%, 9.9 WS

The Aussie earned a 4 year, $52 million contract over the offseason after having a career year last season. After playing a full season and starting in 26 games he tallied career highs in (7.1), rebounds (3.2), assists (2.7) and steals per game (1.2) with an efficient 45.2 percent shooting clip from the field. Those numbers will continue to increase with him stepping into the staring SF spot withGordon Hayward gone.

At 34 years of age, Jingles would most likely be the oldest on the roster alongside Aron Baynes. While contributing with his floor spacing, 3 point shooting, catch and shoot offense and feisty defense, I also see him as that swiss army knife that could handle the ball when needed, find open guys and clean the glass on occasion.

Ingles will also be that dude on the floor that will always fire up the team too. His personality to get into the opponent’s face when necessary and the spirit that he brings to the floor will always be a huge intangible to a team. The veteran leadership that he’ll bring to the Australian team would be invaluable. No wonder the Jazz faithful loves this dude.


POWER FORWARD

Ben Simmons

simmonsball-1.jpg

Age: 21 (25 in 2020)

Career Avgs (4 games): 17.0 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 7.0 APG, 49% FG%

Advanced Stats (4 games): 19.1 PER, .528 TS%, 0.4 WS

He’s just a jump-shot away.

The things that Ben Simmons is doing so far for his size is just isn’t fair. Look what he did to one of the top defenders in the NBA in Avery Bradley:

In that same game he posted his first triple double in his fourth career NBA game. Hasn’t been done since Hambone Williams in 1967. Look at that impact! He made me look up who Hambone Williams was!

So we know Big Ben has the NBA size already. We know he’s got a good post game as well as the ability to get to the basket. His passing ability is apparent. He has defensive potential with his size and 7 foot wingspan. He’s got all the physical tools to be great in the Association for a long time.

For Australia in 2020, he’s going to have to adjust to playing with Kyrie Irving running the point. For that to happen his long range shooting is going to have to reach a point where opposing 4s are going to have to respect his range beyond 18 feet. Of course he’ll able to run the point in spurts with Kyrie taking a break on the bench, but without the floor spacing, The Boomers won’t be able to have space underneath. He hasn’t attempted a 3 point shot in the NBA yet. That’ll change by the time Australia prepare for Tokyo.

All Ben Simmons needs is that outside shot and he has the potential to make himself and Australia a challenge for opposing teams.


CENTER

Thon Maker

2016-0807-Thon-Maker-587130116.jpg

Age: 20 (24 in 2020)

Career Avgs: 4.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 0.5 APG, 44.5% FG%, 36.9% 3P

Advanced Stats: 13.4 PER, .546 TS%, 1.3 WS

Did you know that he’s Australian too?

I did some research after being informed by a couple guys on twitter. Apart from being born in Wau, a city located in South Sudan, Thon Maker, also holds Australian citizenship after being accepted as refugees by Australia. They were refugees as they were escaping war that was going on (and still going on) in Sudan. From refugee to starting Center in the NBA, Maker has had quite a ride so far in his young 20 years.

First thing you notice with Maker is that…well he’s long. 7’1″ with a 7’3″ wingspan and 9’5″ standing reach. So obviously the shot blocking potential is there. In the 57 games he played last season he blocked 26 shots. That number will look to improve in his first year starting for the Bucks.

thon-maker.jpg

The NBA soon realised his floor spacing potential, knocking down close to 38% of 3s in the 57 games he played last season. He’s also a very mobile for his height. On the break, he can get up the floor and he can get around the half court to protect the rim.

By 2020, Maker would have to improve in a lot of areas to be an effective player for the Boomers. First he has to get stronger.  He weighs 223 lbs right now and that would see him get pushed around a lot inside. He competes inside but without adding more weight to his frame, he’s going to lose a lot of those battles.

He doesn’t have a polished offensive game yet. He doesn’t have much of an inside game, which is why you’ll see him posted up in the corner or behind the he arc looking for catch and shoot opportunities. Right now he’s more of an energy big, going after garbage points and relying on teammates to get points off lobs.

If he could improve on these things by 2020, Australia would have a monster of a player guarding the paint and a versatile offensive player as well.


 

The Bench:

Patty Mills8670654-3x2-940x627.jpg

Here’s your sixth man right here.

Led Australia in scoring last year in the Olympics (21.3 PPG), he’ll be the bench’s main scoring threat, and a lethal one at that. He’s the Spurs sixth man back in America so he won’t be in unfamiliar waters if Kyrie ever plays for the Boomers. He’s also a feisty defender and will dog at opposing ones and twos.

 

Matthew Dellavedova

bucks-matthew-dellavedova-movie-of-life_fullsize_story1.jpg

A bulldog of defender, he’ll be the bench’s perimeter enforcer. He also will run the point and find open teammates on the floor (led the team in assists in Rio; 7.0 per game) He’ll also a catch and shoot player so he’ll make his fair share of threes as well.

 

Andrew Bogut

350A5D8F00000578-3630596-image-a-17_1465357006052.jpg

He’ll be 36 by the time Tokyo rolls around. He might not be there, but if he does make the squad, they’ll have a decent big man who will protect the rim while having a scoring presence inside as well.

 

Aron Baynes

3f8276cd388a3280865d8e867ea72058.jpg

Another impact big on the defensive side. He’ll give you hustle plays, set good screens  and probably give you a couple of plays on the offensive side as well.

 

Team Potential

At the end, in the 2020 Olympics, This team gets the silver medal in my eyes if what I hypothesised in this post plays out. You have three point shooting in Joe Ingles and Delly and Patty off the bench. You have an uber-talented young front court in Maker and Simmons with a lot floor spacing and defensive potential. The bench might look old but depending on who Australia actually puts out there for the team, it should be one that should help the starting 5.

They will end up losing to Team USA because, well, it’s Team USA and they’re an almost unstoppable juggernaut whenever FIBA or Olympics competition rolls around.  They’ll compete though. I believe that the team I have could have a shot at beating America, especially with Kyrie running the show. And who know’s, they might actually shock the world.

But alas, this is all speculation and fantasy. Kyrie is committed to play for Team USA and most likely would never leave a sure gold medal to play for another country.


┳┻|

┻┳|

┳┻|

┻┳|

┳┻|

┻┳|

┳┻|

┻┳|

┳┻|

┻┳|

┳┻|

┻┳|

┳┻| _

┻┳| •.•) Or would he?

┳┻| 

┻┳

Things To Look Out For In The 2017-18 NBA Regular Season

The preseason is finally over so now we can finally say, “Welcome back NBA!”  The season officially kicks off tonight and it expects to continue its momentum from the exciting and unpredictable offseason that was. The migration of talent to the West, the Fallout-like dystopia that is the Eastern Conference, the youth movement going on in different teams, old faces in new places and the foregone conclusion that the Warriors are going to win the NBA Championship. Cover Image

There are a lot of things to look forward to this season, so lets look at the main highlight points for this new NBA season

 

THE DOGFIGHT OUT WEST

Dogfight In The West.jpg

SO. MUCH. STAR-POWER!!

I’m so glad that the commissioner made the All-Star game into a pick your team format because I’ll be hard pressed to choose an All-Star team from this conference. This offseason, the Western Conference, excluding the Warriors whose main offseason transactions were re-signing Steph Curry to a max deal and retaining Kevin Durant, were in an arms race in order to either compete against the Warriors (Spurs, Rockets, Thunder), jostle for position and try to breakthrough into the playoffs, such as the Timberwolves and the Nuggets.

Screen Shot 2017-10-16 at 12.22.42 PM.png

So many things I wanna ask: How many games the Warriors gonna win? How will CP3 and the Beard co-exist in Houston? How will  Westbrook, PG and Melo ration the ball and how far can they go? Can Kawhi possibly be the MVP this year and how good the Spurs will be without making any major additions? We’ll get to the rest of the West in a bit, but know that the Western Conference will develop into an all-out war, especially coming down the line for the playoffs.

 

 

THE OTHER CONFERENCE

Power Struggle In The East.jpg

Harsh headline? Yeah.

Let’s face it. The migration of talent from the East to the West has left the Eastern Conferences in a shambolic and confused state. While the usual suspects will be fighting for the top 4 spots, the rest of the East will be fighting it out for the remaining spots. Chances are that the East may have a whole different look come playoff time. I have the Celtics winning in the East (*Chris Rock voice*: YEAH I SAID IT!) over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Wizards and Raptors will be the Wizards and Raptors, and I believe Giannis and the Bucks take the next step. Heck, we’re looking at an Eastern Conference that could see the Sixers could fight for a sixth seed (if nobody breaks a bone)! The East is the weaker conference but it will still have its own exciting battles down the stretch in terms of playoff placement.

OLD FACES IN NEW PLACES

Old Faces in New Places!

A post shared by NBA (@nba) on

This offseason saw a lot of shock moves and crazy trades which could possibly turn the Association upside down.

Clear winners of the offseason went to Sam Presti and the Oklahoma City Thunder, managing to steal Paul George away from the Lakers, Cavs and the Celtics and orchestrating a trade that freed Carmelo Anthony from the Knicks. Imagine that: They turned Domantas Sabonis, Victor Oladipo, Doug McDermott, Enes Kanter and a Chicago 2nd Round pick into this:

Screen Shot 2017-10-16 at 12.24.51 PM.png

For Sam Presti to lure two big name guys away from destinations such as Cleveland, Boston and Houston, how could you not be impressed by that?

2nd place goes to the Celtics who finally dipped into their assets to make the shocking Kyrie Irving trade who requested out of Cleveland, sending Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Nets 2018 1st Round Pick. Add to that, winning the Gordon Hayward sweepstakes and now the Celtics look like they (at least in my eyes) could be the team that faces the Warriors in the Finals.

Jae Crowder is expected to be a starter in Cleveland with Isaiah Thomas, who won’t see the court until January with a hip injury. Now LeBron’s stuck with a potential injured reserve list with him, Derrick Rose in his place and Dwayne Wade starting on the team.

Chris Paul orchestrated a trade out of Houston with Beverly, Lou Williams and a host of others to the Clippers, joining Danilo Gallinari who was also traded there from Denver. With “rookie” Miloš Teodosić coming over from Serbia with his amazing court vision and affinity for being unable to throw a simple chest pass, the Clippers team won’t lack in the entertainment department.

Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 12.10.11 AM.png

 

Speaking of Denver, they replaced the Rooster with Paul Millsap who ended his tenure with the Atlanta Hawks. Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague are now  Timberwolves and Rajon Rondo is a Pelican. Zach Randolph and Vince Carter are now with the Kings, Brook Lopez is a Laker. Jonathon Simmons is a Magic (*sniffles*), Rudy Gay’s a Spur and a partridge in a pear tree.

 

The Rookies and Youth Movements Across The League

 

Screen Shot 2017-10-16 at 6.39.30 PM.png

This year we’ll see one of the most talented rookie classes in Association history. #1 Overall Pick Markelle Fultz, and Ben Simmons who was injured last season will look to help to push The Process in Philadelphia to a playoff spot.

Lakers have Lonzo Ball running the point, and along with Simmons will be a contender for Rookie of the Year. Be on the lookout for Kyle Kuzma as well, who’s shown flashes of promise in the preseason.

Jayson Tatum’s in Boston and is part of a young talented 2nd unit, that also contains highly touted international prospect Guerschon Yabusele and 2nd round pick Semi Ojeyle

Dennis Smith Jr.’s will be jumping out of the American Airlines Arena all season.

Sacramento has a good mix of experienced players and young talent with rookies De’Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson, Harry Giles and Frank Mason III.

The youth movement in Phoenix continues with Josh Jackson being added to a team that already contains talented players like Devon Booker, Tyler Ulis, Derrick Jones Jr. and Marquese Chriss.

D’Angelo Russell who was part of the trade that sent Brook Lopez to L.A., looks to be the main guy on a Nets team that finished last in their conference and looking to climb up the rankings.

We already talked about Miloš Teodosić and the Clippers and then there’s the rebuild in Chicago with Kris Dunn, Zach Lavine and rookie Lauri Markkannen coming over from Minnesota to play alongside Bobby Portis and Denzel Valentine.

WHO WILL BE THIS SEASON’S MVP?

hi-res-975acafda4a7a58365d25d4bf426bccf_crop_north.jpg

As always the MVP debate will he hot and heavy throughout the year. LeBron will always be a contender, especially with the team that he has to play with this year. Either Curry or Durant can dominate a game by themselves.

Can Russell Westbrook go for back to back MVPs? He won’t have a season like the Triple-Double show he had last season because he has help this year but he’ll be as tenacious as ever.

Last year’s runner-up James Harden will look to once again prove that he is deserving of getting that award.

Kawhi Leonard was a finalist last year. Can he become more productive to finally earn an MVP award?

One dark horse pick I have: Giannis Antetokounmpo. Last year he led his team in points, assists, rebounds, steals and blocks, becoming the 5th player in NBA history to achieve this feat. Maybe he can push the Bucks to a high seed and shock the NBA in winning the award.

The season kicks off tonight with the Rockets and Warriors and the more intriguing game, Celtics and Cavaliers with Kyrie and LeBron going against each other for the first time since 2014-15 season. So Merry Opening Night everyone! Let’s enjoy what promises to be an exciting NBA season!

 

From Expansion Team To Playoff Contender: Atlanta United F.C. Is For Real

When I first started watching Major League Soccer, my initial reason was to cover the Trinidad and Tobago players that were playing in the different teams, such as last year’s MLS champion Joevin Jones in Seattle, Cordell Cato with the Earthquakes, Kevin Molino in his new team in Minnesota, and Kenwyne Jones in the expansion team, Atlanta United.

Jones-Home-hero.jpg

Jones and the Sounders have had an up and down season with some spectacular come-from-behind finishes, the Loons in Minnesota have been getting better by the game and Molino has proven to be one of the main guys there, Cato, while haven’t seeing the field much, he’s been decent off the bench, and Kenwyne, who, for Atlanta, has not been able to make a significant impact, due to injury and Atlanta simply having better options at the front.

USATSI_9921181.jpg

But of all the teams listed, Atlanta United to me, since the season started, have not looked like an expansion team at all. From the jump, the Five Stripes have been in my eyes,one of the most exciting teams in the MLS, and since moving into the new Mercedes-Benz Arena, they’ve looked nearly unstoppable. After starting the season with a loss against the New York Red Bulls at home, they went to a winter wonderland up in Minnesota, field almost blanketed in snow, Atlanta ran rampant against their fellow expansion team Minnesota United. Atlanta looked like a well established MLS club, putting 6 goals on Molino’s team. From then on, only Toronto FC have scored more goals this season than Atlanta United (Toronto: 67, Atlanta: 63).

 

The team starts with former Barcelona manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino, known for his fast-paced, high-pressed, counter-attacking brand of football. His main guy is Venezuelan Josef Martinez, the loanee from Torino, who will now play for Atlanta United for the forseeable future, who fits the system set by Tata. In 16 games played, he’s scored 17 goals, including 8 goals in 5 matches since Atlanta United started playing in the new stadium.

 

Even when he went down during the middle of the season with a Hamstring Injury, Tata still had other attacking options such as the creative Paraguayan, Miguel Almiron, the speedy Argentine wingers Argentine Héctor “Tito” Villalba and loanee Yamil Asad, who scored Atlanta United’s  inaugural goal against the Red Bulls. Add to that a steady midfield options such as Julian Gressel, Carlos Carmona, defenders like Anton Walkes, Michael Parkhurst and Greg Garza, and Brad Guzan who splits time with Tim Howard as the goalkeeper on USMNT, it’s a stacked roster that has taken Atlanta United on the brink of the MLS post-season in their first season.
DKg8DgFW4AIBZJh.jpg

One more thing that has impressed me with the franchise it’s the huge fan support that Atlanta United has garnered leading up and during their inaugural season. Owner Arthur Blank, who also owns the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL, had a vision of soccer in the south and made it a reality. Team President Darren Eales did a great job with front office decisions. Tata Martino compiled the roster and the players delivered. The fanbase one one of the biggest and most loyal in the league already, so much that even the local rappers and DJs have been seen sporting the Five Stripes.
170523_MikeWillMadeIt-2.jpg

The football culture is something to behold down in Atlanta, Georgia and if the team keeps the momentum up this season, we could have a dark horse for the MLS Cup in December.

WATCH: Another Game, Another Molino Assist

DDH-aHmUMAAHy7P.jpg

Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Kevin Molino adds to his assists tally with another one against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Down 2-0 early in the 2nd half, Molino helped mount a comeback run for the Loons, crossing the ball into the box and delivered it to defender Fransisco Calvo, heading it downwards and into goal, right past Goalkeeper David Ousted.

That makes 5 assists for Molino in his first season and 2 in back-to-back games. Currently the game is tied up 2-2 late in the 2nd half.

 

 

WATCH: Molino Through-Ball Leads to Ramirez Goal

DC5XK8uU0AAVARL

Kevin Molino follows up a bitter-sweet run of performances over the International Break with his 4th assist of the season against the Portland Timbers on Thursday.

After receiving the ball, Molino beats the defender, Alvas Powell, going right, sees Christian Ramirez alongside the last defender, and delivers it to the striker, beating the offside trap and has him in prime real estate with nobody around him. Ramirez had time to stop the ball on his right foot, have it rise up and flicking it into the goal on the same foot, beating Portland Timbers keeper Jeff Attinella.

Molino impacted the game earlier in the first half when his headed attempt from a corner forced Attinella to force it over the bar.

Video Link: https://streamable.com/s/kje24/dnmwjk

Just a few minutes later he had a “hockey assist” to this own goal

Molino now has 4 assists to go along with 5 goals in his first season with Minnesota United, who are sitting 9th in the Western Conference but 3 points out of the final playoff spot. The Loons next game is against the Vancouver Whitecaps today at 8:00 pm.

T&T Must Get Crucial Points Against CONCACAF Powerhouses In Next Round Of Hex Games

 

It’s been a rough first 4 games for the Soca Warriors in The Hex to qualify for the World Cup in Russia. Opening with two losses against Costa Rica and Honduras, a win against Panama and then a game that felt like it should’ve been a win against Mexico, have us looking at a 1-0-3 record and last place in the 6-team playoff for a spot in Russia.

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 3.55.34 PM.png

Our next two games are against 3rd place in CONCACAF USA and 2nd place Costa Rica (according to FIFA Rankings) and a poor showing against these two CONCACAF giants could see our World Cup hopes go up in smoke (again). To make things a little worse, Head Coach Dennis Lawrence said that San Jose Earthquakes winger Cordell Cato will not be a part of the two fixtures due to “disciplinary actions.”

Coach Lawrence had began preparations for the Soca Warriors 2nd matchup for the USMNT 2 weeks prior to the game in Denver, running practices in order to acclimatize his players to the high altitude in the Mile High City.

dennis_denver.jpg

Getting accustomed to the thin air is one thing; the Americans are another. Last time these countries met in the National Stadium, it was a 4-0 defeat in the final game of the 4th round in CONCACAF qualifying. Jozy Altidore got a brace, while Sacha Kljestian and Paul Arriola also added to the tally.

The second match is against Costa Rica, who defeated us 2-0 in September after a strong showing in the 1st half but unable to take advantages of the opportunities that were given to us. It was all downhill from there in the 2nd half when Christian Navarro and Roland Ulate put us down late in the 2nd half.

The obvious problem is that 1.) we don’t score enough and 2.) we don’t do enough to keep goals out. Through 4 games we have a goal difference of -4 and we’re going against teams that we haven’t scored in their own dojos in more than a decade.

America has won 10 straight home games against the Soca Warriors, scoring 25 goals and allowing a stingy 3 goals in that span. The last time we scored a goal on American soil, Arnold Dwarika scored his 2nd goal against the Americans in a 3-2 loss in the Rose Bowl in Gold Cup competition in 1996.

Below is a chart found on MLSSoccer.com showing the goal differential between USA and T&T dating back to 1982. As you can see, it’s THAT bad.

History_US_v_Trinidad_and_Tobago
via MLSSoccer.com

And we haven’t got to Costa Rica yet, where we have a 3-4-18 record against them and we last beat them 17 years ago in Gold Cup play where we won 2-1. Mickey Trotman scored the golden goal in the 101′ to seal the victory to meet eventual champs Canada in the semi-final. The last time we scored a goal on Costa Rican soil was a month earlier in January where Dwarika scored in a 2-1 defeat.

Embed from Getty Images

Trinidad and Tobago have got to find ways to score on the road on Thursday and Tuesday if they want to keep their World Cup hopes alive. We’ve shown that we could hang with the best that CONCACAF has to offer (see first Costa Rica game & Mexico in March). We just need to do what’s necessary in order to get the results that is needed.

Kenwyne Jones is our unquestioned leader and captain but he needs to convert the chances he gets into goals. We can’t afford for him to keep coming up empty. Kevin Molino has done great things coming back into the fold but we need more from him, and also for him to keep his composure when things get feisty. Joevin Jones has been one of our most important players, giving everything thing he has. Jan-Michael Williams has to do better to keep goals out and the back four has to keep the pressure off him. These are recurring themes that Coach Lawrence has improved but still has to work on in order for the Warriors to get over the hump.

Realistically, I’m looking at two draws this weekend and calling that a success. It’s going to be really difficult to score wins in those environments, especially the America game, but i believe that Coach Lawrence could make a difference this time around. We won the Panama game, and we played the Mexicans with a lot of confidence and heart and that was a game we probably should have won, but circumstances allowed us to lose our grip on the game. I believe that Lawrence could find positives from that game especially to show his Soca Warriors that we could play with the best that CONCACAF has to offer and get these crucial points to keep us in World Cup contention.

 

 

Trinidad & Tobago Roster

Goalkeepers (3): Jan Michael Williams, Marvin Phillip, Adrian Foncette

Defenders (9): Radanfah Abu Bakr, Sheldon Bateau, Curtis Gonzales, Daneil Cyrus, Mekeil Williams, Triston Hodge, Alvin Jones, Carlos Edwards, Aubrey David

Midfielders (9): Hashim Arcia, Andre Boucaud, Kevan George, Hughtun Hector, Khaleem Hyland, Joevin Jones, Nathan Lewis, Kevin Molino, Leston Paul

Forwards (3): Shahdon Winchester, Jamille Boatswain, Kenwyne Jones