TT men’s football team are set to face United States in their second Concacaf Gold Cup 2019 group clash in Cleveland on June 22.
With two matches preceding that encounter – a friendly with Canada tomorrow and the Gold Cup opener against Panama on June 18, the build up to the “Return”, as it has been billed in the US, is already gaining momentum.
Just ask Alvin Jones, the now US-based professional who fired past Tim Howard back in November 2017, at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, to send the Americans through the exit door.
It’s not only Jones though. Midfielder Leston Paul is currently contracted to Memphis 901, a USL (United Soccer League) club of which Howard is part owner. And generally the media interest in TT in the US has been centered around that match.
“Firstly, when I got the offer from Memphis one of the things the coach said to me was ‘you knocked Tim Howard out of the World Cup and now he’s hiring you to play for his team’ so I know it had some banter going on,” Paul said. “I’ve spoken to him a couple times but nothing about international football.
“Even the first interview I had at Memphis it was the first thing they asked and even coming into this tournament they kept asking about the rematch so, I know it is still on the minds of the people over here. It will definitely be a good game,” Paul said.
“I know it’s going to be a battle. I know they have it in the back of their heads that they have to come and bring their A-game but in saying that, they will have some respect for us,” Paul added.
Jones, who now plays for US club OKC Energy said he was anticipating the encounter but does not feel pressured about it.
“For me personally I feel very relaxed,” Jones said. “You are as good as your last game. The last time we played them we won 2-1. We are not taking the game lightly. We know they are at home and it will be a very important game in the group stage. For me personally I will take it game by game.
“I’ve not felt pressured but some of my teammates make it as a joke sometimes but they have never made me feel uncomfortable.