USA-SVG: Vincy Heat win would be whopper of a story

The USA enters World Cup 2018 qualifying in crisis following three straight defeats and a poor run of form dating back to the Gold Cup four months ago, so St. Vincent & the Grenadines should be the perfect antidote. At No. 129, the Vincy Heat is the lowest ranked team in Concacaf still alive in World Cup qualifying, but its qualification is a source of pride for Vincentians everywhere. Buses of SVG supporters are leaving Thursday night from Brooklyn for the game in St. Louis.

1. SVG, island nation with soccer, cricket and a little basketball.

With a population of about 100,000, St. Vincent & the Grenadines is a collection of islands, the biggest of which is St. Vincent and other, smaller islands in the Grenadines. It is also one of the poorest islands in the Caribbean. The two big sports are soccer and cricket, and the national stadium, 18,000-seat Arnos Vale Ground, is used by the national soccer team, the Vincy Heat, and the Windward Islands, the regional cricket team. SVG's most famous athlete, though, is former basketball player Adonal Foyle, who was adopted by two American professors and moved at the age of 15 from the island of Canouan (population: 1,200) to upstate New York, where he starred at Colgate University. He later played for the Golden State Warriors in the NBA, where he was considered one of its best-spoken players.

2. The Vincy Heat has been here before.

SVG was the best of the small island teams for a generation, reaching the semifinal round of World Cup qualifying in the Concacaf region in 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004. Former MLS star Ezra Hendrickson captained the teams in the last three cycles. Their only two wins in 24 games came in 2004 when they swept St. Kitts & Nevis home and away. The Vincy Heat showed improvement in the 12 years during which it played Mexico six times. It lost all six games but the margin of defeat when from 11-0 in the first game to 1-0 in the final game. Hendrickson blames complacency for the the dropoff in the 2010 and 2014 World Cup cycles. "The proper measures weren’t put in place to continue that when our guys became older," he told

3. Qualification hasn't been easy.

SVG advanced two rounds to reach the Concacaf final 12 but did so winning just one of four games. It tied Guyana twice 2-2 and 4-4 to knock off the Golden Jaguars, who had reached the semifinal round four years ago, on away goals. In the next round, the Vincy Heat beat Aruba 2-0 at home and lost 2-1 in Oranjestad to move on 3-2 on aggregate.

SVG vs. Aruba (Sept. 8)
28 Winslow McDowall, Avenues United
32 Roy Richards, Tobago United (Trin. & Tobago)
21 Kevin Francis, Jennings Grenades FC
26 Jolanshoy McDowall, Avenues United
25 Reginal Richardson, OPS (Finland)
20 Vasbert Ledger, System 3
30 Emerald George, Avenues United
26 Cornelius Stewart, PS Kemi (Finland)
26 Darren Hamlett, System 3
20 Oalex Anderson, Seattle Sounders FC 2
20 Tevin Slater, Camdonia FC

4. Hendrickson provides U.S. link.

Hendrickson, who won MLS Cup titles with the LA Galaxy, D.C. United and Columbus Crew during his 12-year pro career, was brought in as assistant to help head coach Cornelius Huggins and give the team some guidance about the USA. Hendrickson has been a member of the Seattle Sounders coaching staff -- he played for Sigi Schmid at Columbus -- and coached the new Sounders FC 2 team in the USL in 2015. He brought in two of the best young SVG forwards to play for S2: Myron Samuel and Oalex Anderson. Both players made have key contributions in qualifying, scoring in the 4-4 tie with Guyana in Georgetown. Injuries to Samuel and Finnish-based Cornelius Stewart have hurt SVG's small squad.

5. SVG's top scorer is a fisherman.

Friday's game will be the biggest of the current generation of SVG players because its a chance to showcase their talents to American pro clubs. The SVG's brightest young star is Tevin Slater, who scored twice in the 4-4 tie with Guyana and scored the decisive away goal to break the series deadlock with Aruba in the 84th minute of the second leg. Slater, 20, leads Concacaf with five goals in 2018 qualifying but earns his keep as a fisherman in the South Leeward. “Scoring goals and catching fish are kind of the same feeling," Slater told "It makes you smile. There’s no guarantees out on the water or out on the pitch. But when they come, the goals or the fish, it’s a nice feeling.”

Concacaf 12, FIFA Rankings
24 Mexico
33 USA
40 Costa Rica
54 Trinidad & Tobago
61 Jamaica
65 Panama
73 Haiti
91 Guatemala
94 El Salvador
95 Honduras
102 Canada
129 St. Vincent & the Grenadines
5 comments about "USA-SVG: Vincy Heat win would be whopper of a story".
  1. Dan Phillips, November 12, 2015 at 12:28 p.m.

    Please do not play Jozy Altidore anymore! He sucks! Should not have even been on the roster!

  2. Wooden Ships, November 12, 2015 at 6:09 p.m.

    I agree Dan. He has scored a decent amount if goals for the US, but after alllllll this time, not sure why JK continues with him. Except judgement. And, that's unfortunate. Not only is he not the kind of striker we need, he makes watching unpleasant. I'm sure he is a great guy, but we obviously need better.

  3. Dan Phillips, November 12, 2015 at 6:20 p.m.

    Altidore plays like an old man. Slow, plodding, no ball skills, lazy, you name it. Never should be on roster again!!!

  4. Thomas Brannan, November 13, 2015 at 4:18 a.m.

    I agree about Altidore. But he will get one this game. And it will be said well maybe he can break out of it now. That's just what he needed. Really getting tired of it.

  5. Wooden Ships replied, November 13, 2015 at 12:19 p.m.

    You're probably right Thomas.

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