It took nine minutes for things to go awry for Trinidad and Tobago in Honduras: goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams collided with Romell Quioto, and the Soca Warriors were forced into an early substitution. Replacement 'keeper Marvin Phillip was picking the ball out of the net shortly thereafter: Quioto opened the scoring for Honduras in the 17th minute. Two minutes later, Emilio Izaguirre added a second.
The goals were a welcome boost for Los Catrachos, who lost their opening home game of the Hex to Panama last week. Success in the final round of CONCACAF Word Cup qualifying starts at home. After a false start, Honduras had returned to form at San Pedro Sula.
In the second half, the Soca Warriors threatened to spoil the party. Unexpectedly, the visitors came out looking sharper and stronger than their hosts, using the relatively simple tactic of Trevin Caesar's speed and the team's proficiency at set pieces to pin Honduras back.
Rocked by the sudden appearance of a competitive opponent on the field, Los Catrachos quickly conceded a goal. Carlyle Mitchell thumped a header home in the 51st minute, and there was a football match where previously there had been an extended training session for Honduras.
As long as the score was 2-1, both sides had incentive to get forward and find another goal. A back-and-forth second half was ultimately settled in favor of the home team by Eddie Hernandez, who tapped in Los Catrachos' third in the 81st minute.
Trinidad and Tobago's sorry start to the Hex was summed up when Khaleem Hyland limped off in the 84th minute. The Soca Warriors saw out the match with 10 men. At home against Costa Rica and away in Honduras, the Soca Warriors have not looked good enough be much more than a brief nuisance to their regional opponents.
Perhaps fortunately, CONCACAF World Cup qualifying won't resume until March 2017. A few months can be significant for international teams. A year ago, T&T's November games brought a comfortable win in Guatemala and a competent 0-0 draw with USMNT in Port of Spain. But when the Soca Warriors returned to competitive play in March of this year, they were given a surprisingly close game by St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Trinidad and Tobago hasn't looked able to keep up with CONCACAF's top tier since last November. Maybe the year-long slide to mediocrity can be reversed between now and March.
For Honduras, the 3-1 win over what looks likely to be the last-placed team in the Hex was essential. Losing to Panama at home was an unexpected and potentially costly mis-step. But Los Catrachos now have points on the board, and will hope to surprise their next opponents in March (Costa Rica and USMNT) to get back on course for qualification for Russia 2018.