Trinidad & Tobago (pictured) will open its CONCACAF Women’s Championship campaign against the USA on October 15, 2014, in Kansas City, Kansas.
KANSAS CITY, Kansas -- Even though Trinidad & Tobago might not have the experience possessed by some its upcoming opponents, head coach Randy Waldrum is optimistic his team can vie for a berth in the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup.
The Soca Princesses will begin that quest when they meet the United States in the CONCACAF Women’s Championship, Group A opener for each on Wednesday at Sporting Park.
"Throw the U.S. out, I think we've got a really good shot,” Waldrum said. “Haiti has been together a lot longer than us. I saw them at the Caribbean [Cup]. We didn't play them, but I think we certainly can compete with Haiti, the same with Guatemala. The players are confident and I'm very confident. We've got a great opportunity to get out of the group."
Waldrum described the encounter against the U.S. as a "David and Goliath" confrontation.
"We're so different because of the resources that we have," he expreseed. “I've had less than a month to get prepared. I haven't had a full team together. It's just a different dynamic. Realistically, we got to get out and do the best we can with the U.S. There's a lot of things we can take from that game. Obviously everybody would love to get a result. That's why we compete. It's going to be a help to us just to get a game under our belt because it will [be] before we get Haiti and Guatemala where I'll actually have my full team together for the first time for a game."
Trinidad, which won the first Caribbean Football Union Women’s Caribbean Cup in August, faces Haiti in Bridgeview, Illinois, on Friday and Guatemala in Washington, D.C. on October 20.
Midfielder Kennya Cordner, 27, who plays for the Seattle Sounders in the USA’s W-League, is the key to T&T's success. She has scored 20 goals in 17 international appearances.
"She's just got blazing speed," Waldrum noted. "She's very good at running at players. That's her strength. I've come to know her quite well. She's a great person. She's committed, focused, hard-working. No question, she's key for us, especially in our attack."
So is forward Ahkeela Mollon, who plays with Kvarnsveden IK in Sweden.
"She's a mirror image of Kennya," commented Waldrum. "These players have great athleticism and great pace. They're going to be key players for us. They're going to be the ones who are going to have to carry out team a little bit through the tournament."
Waldrum brings three decades of high-level coaching experience to the job. The 53-year-old directed the University of Notre Dame women to NCAA Division I titles in 2004 and 2010 and, this year, guided the Houston Dash in its first season in the National Women's Soccer League.
He received an opportunity to coach the Trinidad under-17 national women’s team in 2008 after working with former Trinidad international goalkeeper and technical director Lincoln Phillips, while teaching coaching license courses together in the USA. When Phillips' son, Sheldon, became the Trinidad & Tobago Football Association’s general secretary, a door opened for Waldrum to become national coach.
Though he has coached at the college, professional and international levels, Waldrum said his philosophy hasn't changed. He plans to have the Soca Princesses play an attacking game, with one big change against the USA.
"Going into these three games, we're going to have to play different against the U.S. than we play against Haiti and Guatemala,” Waldrum said. “There's no secret there. We can't go out with this great attacking mentality for 90 minutes and get our team opened up too much against a team with the quality of the U.S. So we're going to have to be more of a defensive team against the U.S., but that will be different with the approach we will take with Haiti and Guatemala."