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The joke’s on US - John claims T&T were motivated to silence 'disrespectful' Americans
Former Trinidad and Tobago international and current assistant coach Stern John insists the behaviour of the United States in the build-up to Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier provided added impetus to boot the team out of the competition.
The United States, generally considered the second-best team in CONCACAF behind Mexico, were shockingly eliminated from the World Cup on Tuesday night after losing 2-1 to an understrength T&T at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva and wins for Panama and Honduras over Costa Rico and Mexico respectively.
Ahead of the match, however, all of the attention had been focused on the venue itself. The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) angered its Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) counterparts and many of the country’s natives after posting images and videos that decried a flooded Ato Boldon Stadium.
The social media posts, which drew derision across several online platforms, showed USA players, who apparently didn’t want to get their feet wet, being carried across the flooded track that surrounded the field ahead of a scheduled training session for the team on Monday. To add insult to injury the USSF Twitter account substituted its usual #RoadtoRussia hashtag with a special adapted #RivertoRussia, which seemed to humorously suit the situation at the time. If it was a river to Russia, however, it’s now clear the USA just wasn't ready to cross it.
“There was a lot of fire in our eyes,” John told USA TODAY Sports. “I think it was disrespectful of them.”
The motivated twin-island republic, on the back of a wonder strike from Alvin Jones, abruptly ended the journey to a destination that the USA seemed almost certain to reach on the back of an impressive 4-0 win over Panama last week and having beaten the Caribbean team on six consecutive occasions.
“I think they were a bit overconfident and a bit disrespectful because they came in yesterday and rain fell on the pitch and they were giving each other piggybacks (over the water) and all kind of stuff,” John added.
“Rain fell, it is not our fault. They made a big scene out of it and it was international news all over the world. It was all over the media. Our families (told us about it). Most of our guys are on social media so they see it. They see the USA guys getting piggybacked to the field – it is embarrassing.”
The already eliminated T&T finished at the bottom of the table on six points and had little to play for, but it seems ensuring the highly rated United States met its Waterloo was a victory in and of itself.