Trinidad and Tobago a win away from World Cup
PHILADELPHIA (AP): The Trinidad and Tobago women's team arrived in the United States two weeks ago without enough money for lunch. Now they're a win away from going to the Women's World Cup.
Trinidad and Tobago, known as the Soca Princesses, could be the Cinderella story of soccer's premier tournament next year in Canada.
But first, they'll need to face Costa Rica today in the semi-final of the CONCACAF Women's Championship. The United States play Mexico in the other semi-final at PPL Park. The championship and third-place matches are set for Sunday.
The top three finishers in the championship among teams from the North and Central America and Caribbean region will earn a ticket to the World Cup. Canada, as hosts, has already secured a spot.
One more chance
So even if Trinidad and Tobago doesn't win today, the team will have one more chance to get in on Sunday. The fourth-place finisher will also get another shot to make the expanded 24-team World Cup field, but not until later this year in a match against Ecuador.
No Caribbean nation has ever qualified for a women's World Cup.
The Soca Princesses, who have also been beset by injuries, gave the US their closest game, falling just 1-0 in the opening match of the tournament. Trinidad and Tobago then beat Haiti and Guatemala to finish 2-1 and second in their group behind the undefeated United States women.
"We knew US was going to be a challenging one. For us, we always believed that we were a class above Haiti and Guatemala," captain Maylee Attin-Johnson said.
Trinidad and Tobago became the sentimental favourites of the tournament when they arrived in the United States for training with no equipment and only about $500. Volunteer coach Randy Waldrum, who also coaches the Houston Dash of the National Women's Soccer League, went to Twitter to plead for help.
There was an outpouring of support. A soccer website, KeeperNotes.com, set up a PayPal account to take donations. Haiti's national team pledged all of the funds they had raised to train in Indiana — just before the Clinton Foundation stepped in and said it planned to support the Haitian women for the long term.