There was another great goalkeeping effort, this time from Nicklas Frenderup, but this time Trinidad and Tobago's supporting cast downed tools.
Of the two teams on the pitch Wednesday night, El Salvador were the only ones that looked desperate to win, and they achieved their goal, defeating T&T’s senior men's national team 2-0 in Group A of their 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup match at the 20,500-capacity Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
T&T needed to get something out of last night's match. But while the Soca Warriors talked the talk, they failed to match it with great endeavour on the field, especially in a tragically poor first half. It was a great let-down from all hands-on-deck, a far cry from the admirable rear-guard performance in the goalless draw against Mexico on Saturday. El Salvador's reward was a quarter-final spot.
It was all lost in the first half and the Warriors will now likely not move onto the quarter-finals, even if they win their final preliminary match against Guatemala.
They got better in the second half, but the damage was already done. The injection of attacking power in Reon Moore and Marcus Joseph resulted in T&T being more competitive. Moore’s runs up the flank created a few chances, one of which saw Joseph strike the crossbar.
With a little luck T&T might have equalised, especially when solid-all-night defender Aubrey David and Ryan Telfer were both free at the back post and bearing down on goal. They crashed into each other – which probably summed up the night for the Soca Warriors.
National coach Angus Eve made seven changes to the defensive team which drew 0-0 with Mexico on opening day. He started with a more conventional line-up but still maintained a strong defensive unit consisting of the solid David, constantly ball-watching Jelani Peters, Mekeil Williams who was injured early and subsequently substituted, Alvin Jones and Noah Powder .
While signalling attacking intentions with his selections, Eve's midfielders were all equally poor. He got nothing from playmaker Duane Muckette. Captain Kevin Molino wanted to do too much and Neveal Hackshaw largely looked tired.
T&T were perhaps lucky to be only a goal down after an uncoordinated, lethargic first half performance, when El Salvador scored and also struck a post. The Soca Warriors were outshot, outplayed and produced one good first half attack when Molino fed a pass inside the left-back which found striker Ryan Telfer. But in his eagerness, the Canada-based player totally lost control.
Meanwhile, El Salvador were in perpetual motion and comfortably shifted the Soca Warriors around with little pressure in the first half. The Central Americans predictably controlled more of the ball, and had the first good chance with Frenderup having to turn Joaquin Rivas’ shot around his post in the 25th minute. Five minutes later, El Salvador were ahead. Overzealous defender Peters rushed in and was turned by Jairo Henriquez, who pocketed a low shot to the far corner.
With a T&T goal looking increasing unlikely, Frenderup kept T&T in the game with a brave save late in the match. But it really didn't matter when El Salvador got a second in the 90th minute. While Frenderup was busy making two quick saves, all his defenders stood watching while three El Salvador attackers had the keeper at their mercy. Walmer Martinez completed the job.