The Trinidad and Tobago women’s soccer team — which didn’t have enough money for lunch when it arrived in the U.S. nearly two weeks ago — moved closer to the final stages of World Cup qualifying Monday with a 2-1 win over Guatemala in the CONCACAF championship.
Kennya Cordner flicked in a header in the 73rd minute, and celebrated with a forward flip. Captain Maylee Attin Johnson added a penalty kick in the 83rd. Mara Monterroso scored in the 90th minute for Guatemala.
The result left Trinidad in second place in its qualifying group, pending the result of the second game of Monday’s doubleheader at RFK Stadium between the United States and Haiti. Only an improbable victory by Haiti over the tournament favorite American team could keep Trinidad out of the semifinals.
The semifinals and finals will be played Friday and Sunday at the Philadelphia Union’s stadium in Chester, Pennsylvania. The top three teams qualify for next year’s World Cup in Canada, while the fourth-place team will face Ecuador in a playoff.
Trinidad has never qualified for the World Cup. Trinidad’s coach, Randy Waldrum, created a stir with an urgent plea on Twitter after the team arrived in Dallas before the start of the tournament, posting that it had “No equipment such as balls, no transportation from airport to hotel, nothing.” He said his first concern was simply to get enough money for his players to have lunch.
His tweets caught the attention of the soccer community, and soon thousands of dollars were raised though the soccer website KeeperNotes.com. Trinidad’s Sports Ministry and a sponsor later sent $40,000.
Even the Haiti women’s team, which was based in Indiana and has had to scramble to raise money, sent the entire $1,316 it had on hand. The Clinton Foundation, the charitable organization run by former President Bill Clinton and his family, in turn stepped in to help the Haitian team.