Road to Vancouver: Shades of 1989 in T&T

The biggest game in the history of Trinidadian men's history is the 1989 T&T-USA World Cup qualifier, the 25th anniversary of which was celebrated two weeks ago. Paul Caligiuri silenced the packed house at the National Stadium in Port of Spain with the goal that sent the USA to the World Cup finals for the first time in 40 years. It was 16 more years before the Soca Warriors finally qualified for the World Cup for the first time -- playing the deciding game in faraway Bahrain.

On Tuesday, the biggest game in the history of women's soccer in Trinidad & Tobago will take place as the Soca Princesses host Ecuador with a final berth on the line for the 2015 Women's World Cup in Canada.

Coached by current Houston Dash and former Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum, T&T will play at the same stadium, now called Hasely Crawford Stadium, as T&T and USA did in 1989. Tuesday's game won't be a sellout like the 1989 match, but the game is generating lots of interest. Upward of 14,000 tickets priced at $16 and $32 have already been sold for the game, Children under the age of 12 will be admitted free.

Trinidad & Trinidad escaped the high altitude of Quito with a 0-0 tie in the first leg, though the Soca Princesses have been warned to not take things for granted at home like their male counterparts did in 1989. No one is making the same mistake that was made 25 years ago and declaring a national holiday for the day after the game, like was done beforehand in 1989.

Expansion produces eight first-time finalists

FIFA expanded the Women's World Cup from 16 to 24 teams to give more opportunities for federations to get behind their national teams with the impetus of a chance to play in a world championship. It certainly did the trick as eight teams, including the winner of the Trinidad & Tobago-Ecuador series that ends Tuesday, will make their Women's World Cup debut in 2015.

Fourteen of the 16 teams from four years ago qualified for the Canada 2015 as only Equatorial Guinea (which lost to first-time finalist Ivory Coast on away goals in African qualifying) and North Korea (banned for doping) aren't back.

The three newcomers from Europe -- the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland -- should all be competitive. All offer star quality -- and will only get better. They are all very young.

Vivianne Miedema, the 18-year-old phenom, single-handedly carried the Netherlands to the Women's World Cup for the first time, scoring the lone goal in a 1-1 tie at home against Italy, then scoring two first-half goals to carry the Dutch past Italy, 2-1, in Verona to give them a 3-2 series victory on aggregate in their European playoff. Miedema, who is in her first season in Germany at Bayern Munich, led all players in qualifying with 16 goals.

Spain, which edged Italy by a point in their group, is led by 27-year-old globetrotter Veronica Boquete, who has played in the W-League, WPS and NWSL in the United States along with clubs in Spain, Russia, Sweden and Germany. She was the 2011 WPS MVP with Philadelphia and has already played for three clubs in 2014: UEFA Women's Champions League runner-up Tyreso in Sweden, the NWSL's Portland Thorns and now FFC Frankfurt in Germany.

Switzerland racked up a 53-1 goal margin in going unbeaten (nine wins and one tie) in its group to finish ahead of Iceland and 2013 European semifinalist Denmark. Between them, former Ohio State star Lara Dickenmann and youngsters Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic and Ramona Bachmann combined for 27 goals.

2015 Women's World Cup Qualifiers (23 of 24):
Concacaf (4): USA, Canada (host), *Costa Rica, Mexico.
Africa (3): *Cameroon, *Ivory Coast, Nigeria.
Asia (5): Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, *Thailand.
South America (2): Brazil, Colombia.
Europe (8): England, France, Germany, *Netherlands, Norway, *Spain, Sweden, *Switzerland.
Oceania (1): New Zealand.
*First-time finalist.

Playoffs:

Ecuador-Trinidad & Tobago 0-0 (second leg: Dec. 2).

Valcke to speak before team workshop in Ottawa

With the draw for the Women's World Cup set for Saturday in Ottawa, FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke will meet with team representatives at the team workshop to review the organization of the tournament.

That is not the same as meeting with players who filed a complaint in the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario over the use of artificial turf at the six Women's World Cup venues, but players attorney Hampton Dellinger told CNN on Monday that he was "pleased" Valcke would "keep his word and begin an open dialogue with the players regarding competition conditions at the Women's World Cup."

The adjudicator Jo-Anne Pickel refused the players' request for an expedited hearing on the discrimination claim and suggested that both the players and Canadian Soccer Association participate in mediation. The CSA refused the request for mediation, while FIFA has raised a number of procedural arguments, claiming it has not been properly served and rejecting claims that the Tribunal has jurisdiction over the dispute.
1 comment about "Road to Vancouver: Shades of 1989 in T&T".
  1. Rick Estupinan, December 3, 2014 at 4:15 p.m.

    4:10 p.m.
    I think the people of Seattle deserves a better team than the same old one they have now.I also believe that the actual coach is not the right one.I see this over weight man who never tries to instil any fighting spirit in his players,looking more like a base ball coach.Also they need to change their uniform to something more attractive.It blends terrible with the burned or over used out artificial turf where they play. With all these negative factors,we sow a very poor game,not fittingly of a semifinal,in front of almost 50.000,neglected and suffered fans.

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