Calypso stunned into silence as college boys stop the carnival

David Lacey
Date Published: 
UK Guardian

World Cup—North and Central America Group: Trinidad and Tobago 0, United States 1

THE Red Sea parted yesterday to allow the United States to take the 24th and last place in the 1990 World Cup and leave Trinidad and Tobago and their passionate supporters all dressed up with nowhere to go.

Needing only a draw to qualify and give the West Indies their first representatives in a World Cup tournament proper, Trinidad fell to a goal from Paul Caligiuri just past the half-hour and seldom looked like scoring the goal themselves which would have prompted a seven-month carnival from Port of Spain to Italy.

Caliguiri, from Diamond Bar, California, not only took the Americans to the finals. He also spared them the considerable embarrassment of being knocked out by minnows as they began their preparations for hosting the 1994 World Cup. A lot of backing from sponsors and TV depended on that shot.

Not that the Americans are likely to strike fear into the majority of their 23 fellow finalists next summer. Based largely on college graduates, their team reminds you a little of Australia
in the 1974 tournament in West Germany — quite worthy in their way and sound defensively, but not a lot of fun to watch.

Their coach, the Hungarian-born Bob Gansler, whose previous major achievement had been to win the Milwaukee high school tournament, still has a lot of work to do to convince a distantly interested American public that it has potential greatness in its midst.

Played on Hackney Marshes, yesterday's game would barely have attracted a second glance. Performed in a bowl filled with 30,000 spectators all wearing red, with wooded peaks behind one goal and Caribbean waters glinting in the sun behind the other, the spectacle demanded attention.

The actual football was an anticlimax. After the bands and the build-up it could hardly have failed to be anything else.

Trinidad's players were apt to dally nervously on the ball and nowhere more so than in defence, which was weak in the air and where the man in possession often wanted to sway to a couple of calypso beats before he decided what to do. When they did break out quickly they looked a more pragmatic side, and from the start Jamerson tended to search for opportunities to open up the left wing for Lewis's speed.

Lewis left Tritschuh standing from the start, but Trinidad were slow to exploit the situation. Instead they probed for openings in other places but failed to get men up in support.

At other times they attempted to beat Meola, arguably America's soundest player, from ambitious distances. Midway through the first half the crowd began to chant "we goal hungry", but when a goal came it was hardly to their taste.

United States had the better organisation, playing the ball smoothly from the back and using the pace and close control of Ramos to disturb Trinidad's defenders. Vermes, a busy central striker, worked hard to draw the markers out of position but there was barely the hint of an American goal before they took the lead a minute past the half-hour.

Then Caligiuri, loping towards the defence with the ball in the inside-left position, let fly from 25 yards and Maurice was caught out not so much by the force of the shot as by its direction, the flight of which the Trinidad goalkeeper picked up too late. As the ball sailed into the net the crowd uttered something between a shriek and a gasp. This was not in the script.

A few shots, a few close calls in the second half and the Americans were leaping into each other's arms in delight tinged with a little relief.

SCORER: Unites States Caligiuri (31 min).

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO: Maurice; Williams, Morris, Francis, Faustin, Elliot-Allen, (Alleby 75), Jamerson, Latapy, Yorke (Charles 59), Jones, Lewis.

UNITED STATES: Meola; Krumpe, Tritschuh, Windischmann, Doyle,Harkes, Caligiuri, Ramos, Bliss, Vermes, Murray.

Referee: J Laustau (Argentina).

• Cameroon took the second African place in the World Cup finals when they beat Tunisia 1-0 yesterday in Tunis to win their qualifier 3-0 on aggregate.


Europe: Italy, Romania, Sweden, England, USSR, Austria, Holland, West Germany, Yugoslavia, Scotland, Spain, Republic of Ireland, Belgium, Czechoslovakia.
South America: Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia.
Africa: Egypt, Cameroon.
Asia: South Korea, United Arab Emirates.
North and Central America: Costa Rica, United States.