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Know Your Opponent: Trinidad & Tobago Edition

The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, or T&T, is found on a small archipelago in the southern Caribbean. 96% of the population lives in Trinidad and the other 4% live in Tobago, which leads me to question why Tobago gets equal billing.

T&T is famous as the birthplace of calypso music and the steelpan drum. T&T is actually far more similar to the US than one might imagine. It’s a prosperous nation due to its oil-rich economy. It’s a democratic nation. The official language is English.

We do have several differences as well though. For instance, T&T still uses the “cat o’nine tails” to flog its prisoners. We outlawed that practice years ago. We both still like to execute a prisoner every now and then though. You know, for the kids.

The football team, known as the Soca Warriors, is actually pretty good. They qualified for their first ever World Cup in 2006 and when they took the pitch in Germany they were the smallest country ever (population-wise) to play in a World Cup. The 2006 team, which was coached by Dutchman Leo Beenhakker didn’t fare too well in Germany though as it tied Sweden and lost to England and Paraguay.

T&T is making a strong push to qualify again and barring a bad defeat to the US and a big win by Guatemala, T&T should make it to the next round. T&T is currently ranked #80 in the world by FIFA, though they were as high as #102 only two months ago.

T&T’s best player is Dwight Yorke, who has scored sixteen goals in 59 appearances for the national team. Yorke, along with Carlos Edwards and Kenwyne Jones, play for Sunderland in England. Julius James of Toronto FC has gotten one call-up for the squad as well. It doesn’t look like Yorke, Edwards, Jones or James will be present Wednesday at Toyota Park though. Keon Daniel and Cornell Glen are two players who will be there and the U.S. will have to watch out for them on Wednesday night.

The Soca Warriors play a wide open style of soccer that produces goals, but leaves the defense vulnerable to counter-attacks. The US will need to use T&T’s style against them if they hope to sweep the qualifying round. Look for Michael Bradley and Maurice Edu to be two important cogs in the MNT machine.

The last time the Men’s Nats faced T&T during the Gold Cup in 2007, the US easily dispatched of the Soca Warriors 2-0 at the HDC. Eddie Johnson and Brian Ching, two guys who will be there tomorrow night, provided the US’s goals. Let’s hope Ching can do it again. I would hope the same for EJ, but methinks Bradley has forgotten he’s on the roster.

Bob, he’s the really fast guy on the end of the bench. The guy who can’t get it done against good competition but always slays little teams, like say, T&T.

Use him. Please.