February 19, 2016
READY TO LEAVE IT ON THE FIELD
T&T women realize they face an Olympian task against the USA to reach the Olympics
By Michael Lewis
HOUSTON, Texas -- The Trinidad & Tobago women have a huge task in front of them.
They have to find a way Friday to upset the world champion United States to clinch a berth at the Rio Olympics.
It certainly won't be easy because not only have the Americans never missed any of the six Olympic tournaments, they have set the standard for success at the Summer Games. They have won four gold medals, including three in a row, and one silver the past 20 years.
The winner will clinch a berth in Rio and play the victor of the Canada-Costa Rica semifinal for the confederation crown at BBVA Compass Stadium on Sunday.
"We know the magnitude of the level of the United States," T&T forward Maylee Attin-Johnson said at a Thursday press conference at the stadium. "We have to be tremendously disciplined and execute what the coach has. The preparation is not what we wanted it to be for us. We're not going to let it jeopardize the way we compete, jeopardize the way we leave everything on the field. We're going to go there and give our hearts out there and play to the best of our ability and hope it's good enough."
Coach Richard Hood said he took over the team a month ago, had no friendlies and finally got the entire team together three days prior to the competition.
Trinidad knows that it won't be easy against the world champions.
"I expect that the U.S. is going to come out with all guns at us," Hood said. "We're going to work very hard. We're going to approach the game with a lot of spirit and hope to frustrate them. Hopefully we can create something on the offensive end and hit them."
Hood said he was impressed with the Mexicans' strategy in their 1-0 loss to the USA as they played a disciplined, defensive, physical game to hold down their foes.
"Certainly that is one of the ways we want to approach the game," he said. "They did a fantastic job. Hopefully we can do a similar type job. We're going to play positive, we're going to play hard. We're going to make it difficult for them. We're not going to go out there and lie down, allow them to walk all over us. We're going to make it very difficult for them."
Of course, the American women usually make it very difficult for everyone else. They outscored the opposition in three Group A match, 16-0.
Hood said that he was most concerned about the USA's physicality, speed and speed of play.
"They are the world champions for a reason," he said. "I know they have a few new players in the squad. They play a particular system. They are well trained, they are well prepared. Their organization, the way they play, they ."try to get behind the backs as quickly as possible. All these things are concerns for us."
The USA squeaked out a 1-0 win over T&T in the group stage of the CONCACAF Women's Championship in October 2014.
"These are different times," Johnson said. "The preparation was not what we wanted. This is the second time for the second level of a CONCACAF tournament. That is in itself is an improvement on our part. We are no longer here to participate in a tournament. We're here to compete."