T&T relinquished a two-goal lead as Mexico hit back to steal a 3-3 draw in their international friendly at the Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah on Friday night. Just over a month ago, the Soca Warriors rallied from a similiar two goals down to steal a late 4-4 draw with “El Tri” but on Friday it took a stunning 84th minute strike from Hector Herrera to complete a Mexican comeback from two goals down before some 20,000 Mexican fans.
Despite conceding late, the “Soca Warriors” left the stadium with a burning sense of pride as they more than held their own against the reigning CONCACAF Gold Cup champion and had the partisan Mexican crowd quiet for long periods during the encounter. Stephen Hart’s men made another statement to its fans and its upcoming CONCACAF opponents in 2018 World Cup qualifying.
“It was a performance and a result that left me leaving the venue pleased tonight,” Hart said. “I thought at times we looked very organised. We were a bit indecisive at centre back a couple of times but other than that we looked very organised. I was really pleased with Glenn and how he put in a lot of work all along. We went on top but it was a great goal to tie it up. Overall I’m satisfied.”
Both teams played without some regular starters with Kenwyne Jones and Sheldon Bateau missing for T&T while Javier Hernandez and Andres Guardado were on the bench for Mexico and Jesus Corona and Giovani Dos Santos were not in the team. The game though had all the ingredients of a proper contest.
T&T settled quickly, causing Mexico to appear almost edgy at times and their fans were left stunned in the seventh minute when Keron Cummings’ attempted shot at goal took a deflection and fell nicely for Jonathan Glenn who made the far post run to neatly head home for 1-0 T&T lead. “It was just the start we wanted. What it did was showed us that we don’t have to chase an opponent like Mexico everytime we play them and this kind of start would help us realise this,” Hart said.
Mexico just couldn’t seem to get a foot in the door as Hart’s men remained solid, composed and were in no mood to be pushed around.
The Mexicans did have their moments but it would be T&T who surged further ahead. Glenn, making his first start for T&T, produced a clever challenge on Oswaldo Alanis that won the ball on the edge of the box before playing over for an awaiting Cummings to side foot into the net. T&T was now up 2-0 in the 39th minute. A first time scoreline since the 4-0 win for T&T in the 1974 World Cup qualifier when Everald “Gally Cummings notched a double.
“Going 2-0 up, despite them scoring just before the break was a good thing for us,” said Hart. Mexico, playing its first game under interim head coach Ricardo Ferretti, hit back before the break with Carlos Esquivel heading past captain Jan Michael Williams in the 40th. Ten minutes into the second half, Mexico levelled the scores when Raul Jimenez’s shot was headed into the net by T&T defender Daneil Cyrus.
T&T never lost control of its game and didn’t allow Mexico to pull away either. Chicago Fire’s Joevin Jones wiggled his way into the Mexican penalty area but couldn’t get his shot off before hitting the turf in what appeared to be a foul on the player. And later on Khaleem Hyland directed his effort wide of the upright.
Jones made amends in the 69th minute with a perfectly taken left-footed free-kick which left goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera flatfooted on his line. Hart made a few changes, bringing on Trevin Caesar, Mekeil Williams, Kevan George, Willis Plaza and Neveal Hackshaw in the second half. Mexico began to forge forward in desperate search of the equaliser and eventually got it with Herrara’s laser-like strike into the top left corner past Williams five minutes from time.
T&T will now look ahead to the October 8 international friendly away to Panama while Mexico faces Argentina in Dallas on Tuesday. T&T begins its 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign on November 13 against either Antigua/Barbuda or Guatemala and will then host United States on November 17.