National coach Terry Fenwick, right, gives instructions to members of the men's training squad during a practice session at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo on Tuesday. (Anthony Harris)

T&T’s men’s national team will open its 2021 schedule with a mouth-watering friendly clash against the United States on January 31 at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida.

The match will serve as an important warm-up opportunity ahead of T&T’s opening World Cup qualifying match against Guyana on March 25 at home, while the US will contest the Concacaf Nations League Final Four in June, the Gold Cup in July, and the start of 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying, which kicks off in September for the hosts.

National coach Terry Fenwick, who only yesterday said he was hoping for something significant over the next 24 hours, was elated to have received the news.

“Obviously this is a big step forward. I want to kickstart football here in T&T again and by playing a game against a team of the magnitude of the USA that has got players all over the world now, they’re battering teams within our region, it’s a big step forward.”

He noted: “Maybe too early for us, but I wanted to take this on so it can get us as an organisation in line, moving forward because obviously, we have got World Cup qualifiers coming up at the end of March,” after yesterday’s training session at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.

Warriors’ most recent victory against the Americans was in 2017 during the Russia World Cup qualifying campaign when the host celebrated a 2-1 win at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva. Since that match, there has been very little to brag about with T&T going down in a heavy defeat to the USA 0-6 at the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2019.

With the match already secured, Fenwick’s challenge will be to pick from some 25 new players, who are based in either the UK or North America.

According to the former San Juan Jabloteh and Central FC coach, “I think the players and everyone else, we need to be operating on a different level. That’s what I am trying to endorse across the board with my players and staff. It’s going to present us with a good chance to have a look at a few players and give ourselves a solid test against a team such as the USA.”

Soon after the match, Fenwick and his men will enter a live-in camp, both of which will fall under the comprehensive US Soccer Return to Play Protocols. Due to the evolving conditions related to the global pandemic, capacity for the event will be limited to 4,500 fans according to US Soccer.

The match will be played under strict COVID-19 protocols with fans having to wear face coverings at all times while on stadium premises, except while actively eating or drinking. A socially distanced stadium seating manifest has been designed to keep fans in place and within their own parties of four or less.

SAFETY PROTOCOLS AND GUIDELINES/COVID-19 WARNING

• Adequate spacing between the field of play and ticket purchasers has been arranged.

• Each occupied row will have a maximum of two parties (each comprised of four or fewer people), allowing each party to access the aisle closest to its seats without stepping over another party.

• Every party will have at least six feet of space between it and other parties.

• Tickets will not be issued for the first two seats closest to the aisle.

• Reserved seating only, general admission will not be allowed.

• Mobile-only tickets

Concession stands will have cashless payment. No bags, including clear bags, will be allowed. Ticket holders will have a preferred gate to enter the stadium based on their ticket location.