Soca Princesses hold USA agonizingly close in opener

[CONCACAF WOMEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP] For one evening, Kimika Forbes, who attended tiny Maine-Fort Kent, was a fortress, holding off an onslaught from the U.S. women's national team to limit the heavily favored Americans to a 1-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago in their opening game at the 2014 Concacaf Women's Championship in Kansas City, Kansas.

The Americans came into the game with a record of nine wins in nine group-stage matches in Concacaf play, none smaller than 3-0, and a scoring margin of 67-0, but it could only manage a single goal by Abby Wambach, her 171st international goal, in the 54th minute on a header after Alex Morgan eluded Forbes in the penalty area.

Trinidad & Tobago put nine and 10 defenders behind the ball, and any time the USA broke through Forbes was otherwise there to stop the hosts. The USA finished with a 29-7 edge in shots, but Forbes made nine saves to keep the game close.

Maine-Fort Kent, known for its biathlon program, is so small it left the NAIA to join something called the USCAA, where it won the national title in 2013, Forbes' last season with the Bengals. After spending the summer in the WPSL with the Boston Breakers Reserves, she returned to UMFK to continue her studies, but she needed to get her former coach to ask permission of her professors to join T&T.

Funding problems forced the Soca Princesses, coached by American Randy Waldrum, to show up for training for the CFU Cup in Houston with what the Houston Dash coach described as "nine soccer balls and a plastic garbage bag that carried a few pennies" and later return to the United States for the Concacaf Women's Championship with only $500 because funding had not been yet approved from the T&T sports ministry.

Perhaps Forbes' best save came in the 52nd minute when she stopped Wambach on a breakaway and Megan Rapinoe hit the rebound over the goal. In stoppage time, Forbes again came up big one-on-one, stopping sub Sydney Leroux with her left leg.

After Wednesday's performance, Waldrum said he was ready to welcome Forbes to spring training for the Dash's second season in the NWSL.

-- In Wednesday's earlier match, shorthanded Haiti defeated Guatemala, 1-0, as Lindsey Zullo scored the game's only goal.

CROWD COUNT. The opening doubleheader drew an embarrassingly small crowd of 3,621 fans at Sporting Park.  Action continues in the Concacaf Women’s Championship Thursday at Sporting Park with Jamaica-Martinique and Mexico-Costa Rica.

Oct. 15 in Kansas City, Kansas
USA 1 Trinidad & Tobago 0. Goal: Wambach 54.
USA -- Solo; Krieger, Sauerbrunn, Rampone, Klingenberg; Holiday, Lloyd, Rapinoe (Rodriguez, 87), Press (Leroux, 61); Wambach (O'Reilly, 77), Morgan.
Trinidad & Tobago -- K.Forbes; Belgrave, King, Hinds (Khadisha Debessette, 79), Ryce; Hutchinson, Johnson, Superville (K.Forbes, 82), St. Louis (Shade, 46); Mollon, Cordner.
Att.: 3,621.
2 comments about "Soca Princesses hold USA agonizingly close in opener".
  1. KC Soccer Dad, October 16, 2014 at 9:48 a.m.

    The Royals played at 3PM. I'm guessing that most of the city was busy watching that team return to the World Series for the first time in nearly 30 years.

  2. Brian Threlkeld, October 16, 2014 at 3:44 p.m.

    The narrowness of the U.S. victory is obviously a big surprise. Credit T&T for a spirited effort, and fine goalkeeping, but this also illustrates a point that has to have concerned U.S. supporters for most of this year. The U.S. often generates a slew of scoring chances, but has a lot of trouble finishing them off. If this were happening against, say, Germany, or Japan, or Sweden, or Canada, it would be frustrating, but understandable. Against (to be candid) inferior opposition, however, a team of the U.S.'s quality simply has to be putting more of these chances into the net. This problem with finishing efficiency is worrisome for the U.S., heading (we'll presume) into next year's tournament in Canada.

    And, by the way, Haiti richly deserves commendations for a gutty, inspired, and inspiring performance in pulling out a win against Guatemala despite playing a woman down the last 70+ minutes of the game, and with a backup keeper after the first-team keeper drew a straight-red card. And all that adversity came on top of the Haitian women's well-documented financial and material challenges in preparing for qualifying. What they've faced makes “operating on a shoestring” look like lavish abundance!

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