Five minutes into its opening game of this round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, Vincy Heat shocked the region.
The lead held for about six minutes, and those six minutes remain perhaps the high point of St. Vincent and the Grenadines' World Cup qualifiers. The team did give Trinidad and Tobago a scare at Arnos Vale in March, but that was surely as nothing to the experience of bloodying the nose of a regional heavyweight in its own back yard.
SVG will hope to capture something of the spirit of those opening minutes in St. Louis in this match. Any hope of qualifying for Russia was remote at the start of this campaign and is now officially extinguished. Vincy Heat has no points from its opening four games; it is playing for pride now.
It does have some talented players who have benefited from the exposure and experience of the campaign to date. The scorer of that goal in St. Louis, Oalex Anderson, will turn 21 in November. He currently plays for Seattle Sounders 2 in USL, but can reasonably hope to step up a level in the not-too-distant future. Tevin Slater is currently the top scorer in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. Myron Samuel - another Sounders 2 player - might be playing with a little righteous indignation after being forced to leave his belongings at the airport by an overzealous customs officer when he returned home for this match. The SVG Football Federation reportedly settled the matter and rescued the player's luggage.
For USA head coach Jurgen Klinsmann there is not a great deal to gain from this game. It must be won, since any other result would be an unconscionable upset. It should be won comfortably. But there won't be a lot to learn from the game, since St. Vincent doesn't have many professional players in its squad, let alone players considered world class.
Vincy Heat's roster for their upcoming encounter vs the USA. Influential midfielder Darren Hamlet absent. #2018WCQ pic.twitter.com/CYSIg3Txrw— Nathan Carr (@caribbeanftbl) August 31, 2016
This is a game that could end career with USMNT - for any player who looks out of his depth or a coach outwitted by SVG - but it is unlikely to launch one (though T&T's Levi Garcia did score twice against St. Vincent on his international debut, and he is one of the more vaunted prospects in CONCACAF now).
With thanks to the inestimable livesoccertv.com here's where to find it.