For Columbus Crew SC midfielder Kevan George and his teammates on Trinidad and Tobago's National Team, winning Group C and advancing to the Gold Cup quarterfinals has been nothing short of beating the odds.
“It was one of the happiest moments of my life, to be honest,” George said of the feat. “Just to see the sheer joy on my teammates' faces, the coaching staff, and the athletic staff, because we’ve been faced with many, many, many, many challenges, not soccer related. To go out there, beat the odds, get a result against Mexico, and top the group, it was just a combination of everything. Some people are kind of emotional because it meant a lot for us to go this far. For me, personally, it was just one of the happiest moments of my life so far.”
George described the milestone moment of tying Mexico 4-4 on Wednesday to clinch the group as mystifying.
“It felt like a blur, to be honest,” George said. “When you’re in the midst of the battle, you don’t really observe everything that’s going on around it. But, it was a great experience, a really cool thing to be a part of. The fans were going absolutely crazy; we couldn’t even hear ourselves on the field. For me, that’s what it’s all about.”
In the dying seconds of the match, with Mexico leading 4-3, Mexican fans littered the pitch with water bottles as Trinidad and Tobago took one more cornerkick. But the Soca Warriors kept their cool and equalized in the final act of one of the most entertaining Gold Cup matches in history.
George said his team took the torrent of plastic as a compliment.
“Because that meant we were doing something to obstruct the Mexicans’ attack or game plan. If they were beating us like three goals, four goals, and winning the game, I highly doubt the fans would be troubled to throw things at us,” George said. “We saw it as passionate fans just trying to rally their team, even though it’s not the right thing to do. The most important thing is that we got out of there with a point and we topped the group.”
George has played a significant part in helping Trinidad and Tobago clinch Group C, having played every minute of the Soca Warriors’ three Gold Cup matches. But the midfielder said he isn't too concerned with his individual performance, so long as he’s contributing to his team’s success.
“I haven’t really given much thought to my performances,” George said. “For me, I’m just very thankful to have the opportunity to start and play every game, and help the team get results. For me, that’s most important.”
Though George may not be paying to much attention to his individual success, Crew SC Head Coach and Sporting Director Gregg Berhalter certainly has.
“He’s done a good job,” Berhalter said. “He’s been solid there in the middle of the field, and it’s great to see Trinidad [& Tobago] win the group. They’re excited and we wish them nothing but the best for the next round.”
Geroge said Berhalter and his Crew SC treammates have stayed in touch during the tournament, texting him for every match. And they are not the only showing their support for the Soca Warriors.
“I spoke to a few of my family members, and a few people from our villages. They’re so proud of us,” George said. “All in all, our country is on a high and they’re just rooting for us and hoping that we could go all the way.”
That hope could turn into a reality as Trinidad and Tobago's journey continues Sunday evening at 4:30 ET against Panama.
“Obviously, we’re just going to take it one game at a time,” George said. “The ultimate goal is to make it to the finals, but our first milestone was to make it to the semis. We’re on our way there. We face a good Panamanian team, and we’re just taking everything a day at a time."