The CONCACAF Nations League returns, as the final two matches in League A’s Group D are set to take place over the international window. The United States Men’s National Team currently sits at second with qualification to the final round and 2023 Gold Cup on the line. The first opponent is the island nation of Grenada. Kirani James Athletic Stadium – a 8,000-seat multi-purpose venue in the capital city of St. George’s – is set to play host.
This is the fifth all-time meeting between the two nations, with the USMNT holding a 4-0 record, including a 5-0 victory in last June’s reverse fixture. Currently ranked 173rd internationally by FIFA, Grenada played several friendlies in preparation against Barbados, St. Lucia, and Trinidadian club La Horquetta Rangers F.C.: tying the first opponent three times (1-1, 2-2, and 2-2), splitting against the second (1-2 and 2-0), and registering a victory and a draw with the third (3-2 and 1-1). The Spice Boys (sometimes stylized as “Spiceboyz”) sit at third in League A, Group D with one point, looking certain to be headed into 2023 Gold Cup qualifiers but avoiding relegation in the Nations League due to an upcoming shift in the competition’s format.
Grenada is currently led by manager Anthony “Nixon” Modeste, who took over from Michael Findlay and served as an assistant during the previous regime. The 47-year-old retired defender was stalwart with the senior national team and had a brief stint as a player-coach in 2007 through 2008. He has also been in charge of St. George Royal Cannons and Camerhogne.
Squad Announcement for Concacaf Nations League fixture against the USA on March 24.— GrenadaFA (@GFAGrenada) March 16, 2023
Head Coach Anthony ‘Nixon’ Modeste has picked a balanced team of youth and experience with nine (9) foreign based players (39%) joining the squad from England and the United States. pic.twitter.com/zLyv4AQ7CT
Modeste named a 23-player roster for the match with the USMNT, the majority of the talent concentrated in the domestic GFA Premier League. Nine of the call-ups compete abroad, split between various leagues in the United States and England. Notable absences include Shavon John-Brown, Tyrone Sterling, and Kharlton Belmar.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Jason Belfon (All Saints United FC), Trishawn Thomas (Queens Park Rangers), Jeremy Richardson (Paradise FCI)
DEFENDERS (6): Aaron Pierre (AFC Wimbledon), Benjamin Ettienne (Charleston Battery), Christian James (FC Camerhogne), Trevon Williams (Queens Park Rangers), Dorrel Pierre (Paradise FCI), Sawan Mark (Sunsetters FC)
MIDFIELDERS (7): AJ Paterson (Charleston Battery), Regan Charles-Cook (K.A.S. Eupen), Kwazim Theodore (All Saints United FC), Steffon Abraham (Paradise FCI), Kayden Harrack (Queens Park Rangers), Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong (Gloucester City FC), Ashley Charles (Wealdstone FC)
FORWARDS (7): Jamal Charles (Paradise FCI), Romar Frank (FC Camerhogne), Saydrel Lewis (Paradise FCI), Joshua Isaac (Paradise FCI), Kairo Mitchell (Eastleigh FC), Kriston Julien (Hurricanes FC), Myles Hippolyte (Stockport County FC)
Grenada typically lines up in a 4-2-3-1 with an aggressive attacking midfielder in the hole. Modeste praised his team for working hard and creating several chances in recent friendlies but rued the missed opportunities. He insists that the match against the USMNT “will not be a walkover.”
The Spice Boys look to play vertically with quick dribbling turns and long, direct passes from every line in order to spring the counter-attack. The players will press the opponent’s back line and swarm to create turnovers. In previous fixtures, El Salvador enjoyed success when attacking the wings with frequent switches and ensuing crosses, and La Horquetta Rangers took advantage of set pieces.
While Grenada typically has two main options at goalkeeper, English-based Reice Charles-Cook is remaining at Bromley. The manager will likely turn to the veteran, Jason Belfon, who competes with Antiguan side All Saints United. He is fast and confident coming off of his line and has the ability to throw or punt the ball well past midfield. The 32-year-old is highly acrobatic when going to ground and leaping to collect a cross.
Athletic Aaron Pierre recently joined AFC Wimbledon from Sutton United and quickly assumed a role in the starting lineup. For what the muscular centre-back lacks in mobility (but not agility or bounce), his abilities to force opponents off of the ball and bully his way through traffic are the embodiment of the League Two game. His partner is likely to be Kayden Harrack, a Queens Park Rangers reserve who started in all three previous Nations League fixtures. The 19-year-old Londoner is described as a “technical and explosive defender who enjoys competing and battling for everything” with “a good range of passing.”
Florida-born AJ Paterson is entering his fifth season with the Charleston Battery of the USL Championship, a rangy defender who “eats up ground.” He is capable in possession, aggressive in the tackle, and can also slide into a centre-back or midfielder role. The right side of the formation features Benjamin “Benji” Ettienne, a teenager who made five appearances last season for the Charleston Battery. He is a two-way player, capable of shutting down wingers and contributing to the attack, registering six goals and three assists at the U-20 international level.
Ashley Charles, a former member of the Watford youth set-up now competing for Wealdstone in the fifth-division National League, accepted his first call-up to Grenada last June and played every minute at defensive midfielder during the Nations League fixtures. He is a disruptor in the formation with a focus on clearing the line while avoiding potentially dangerous passes. Typically an attacker, All Saints FC’s Kwazim Theodore tends to slide a little deeper in the formation at the international level. The 27-year-old is quick to go to ground and makes a general nuisance of himself when sticking into opponents.
Over the past two seasons, Regan Charles-Cook has enjoyed a sharp rise in form, scoring a league-leading 13 goals with Ross County in the Scottish Premiership, earning PFA Team of the Year honors, and continuing to perform with six goals and two assists at top-flight Belgian side K.A.S. Eupen. The 26-year-old attacker drifts to the interior and looks to shoot but can also be a bit of a poacher with a preternatural sense to find himself in advantageous situations. Potentially making his international debut is Stockport County’s Myles Hippolyte, a versatile and acrobatic player who is “comfortable on both feet with the pace and trickery to take on opponents.” His first instinct is to head toward the goal with long strides, taking a high line up the field. Romar Frank of domestic side FC Camerhogne is another capable forward option and displays confidence when darting around the final third.
Since making his debut at the 2021 Gold Cup, Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong has been a frequent presence in the starting lineup. The Gloucester City attacking midfielder likes to receive the ball on the right wing and cut centrally, displaying quickness and agility in the dribble. He uses his left foot to deliver lofted through balls and driven shots from distance, although his scoring touch has leveled off in recent seasons. His dynamism will play a key role if the Spice Boys are going to stay in the match.
Currently at Paradise FCI after a stint with Real Sociedad in Honduras, Jamal Charles leads Grenada’s front line. He is a target man and a ball hawk, running onto long passes and serving as the primary recipient for crosses. His combination of speed and size can present a difficult challenge for defenders, turning matches into grind-it-out physical battles.
Let’s take it back to 2019 Concacaf #NationsLeague . Jamal Charles with the hat trick for Grenada . They take on Qatar tonight in their #GoldCup match. — Unveil+ (@unveilplus) July 17, 2021
#Concacaf #NationsLeague #Football #Hattrick #Grenada #SpiceBoyz #GoldCup2021 #GRNvQAT #OneSportingCaribbean pic.twitter.com/iqJsPMFqyQ
The USMNT should have little trouble controlling proceedings and claiming three points. While a victory is not essential, a positive result lessens the requirement for advancement to the 2023 Nations League Finals from a win to a draw against El Salvador. Grenada should put up a fight, but the region’s dominant power is expected to win this kind of match due to the disparity in depth.
The match is scheduled for Friday, March 24th at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 5:00 p.m. Pacific. Viewing options include TNT, Universo, Peacock, and FUBO TV (free trial).