Trinidad and Tobago's qualifying campaign for the 2012 Olympics came to a halt on Tuesday night when they suffered a 2-0 defeat to Honduras in their closing CONCACAF Group B encounter at the Home Depot Center, California, USA.
Eddie Hernandez scored his second goal of the tournament in the 37th minute and assisted on Anthony Lozano's in the 70th to earn "Los Catrachos" a third trip to the semi-finals in four tries.
Honduras went ahead when Wilmer Crisanto curled a cross into the area and Lozano was able to get an extended right foot to it. The ball popped high in the middle of the area and Hernandez was quicker to get his head to it before T&T goalkeeper Andre Marchan could react, knocking it lazily into the goal.
The Soca Warriors' resistance all but ended when Lozano doubled the lead. A curled cross from the right saw Hernandez heading down from the middle of the area. Lozano settled the ball off his thigh and finished from the edge of the six-yard box.
Victory moved Honduras to second in Group B with six points, three behind group winners Mexico, who edged Panama 1-0 in the later match.
Requiring a win to advance to the semi-finals, the Angus Eve-coached Trinidad and Tobago Under-23 team fell short on the evening and finished the tournament with one point following their 1-1 draw with Panama on Sunday. They were beaten 7-1 by the Mexicans in their opening game last Friday.
Eve later expressed his disappointment on not seeing T&T progress in the tournament.
"I think the determination of the guys and the never-say-die attitude was good at times. We did pass the ball well at times. I thought we played very good football at times after we settled down after the first couple of days. The biggest problem for me was in the goal-scoring in the tournament," Eve said when asked by reporters for his perspective of Trinidad and Tobago's showing.
He also knocked Honduras for trying to stall the game at times with their players going down and holding up the play.
"We give away soft goals every game. But, in saying that, if we take our chances, we ease off the pressure on our defenders. We keep not taking the chances that we create. We created a lot of chances. We brought on two faster strikers (Shahdon Winchester and Trevin Caesar)...we started them and it worked to perfection. They were in the back all the time, they were twisting and turning. We just didn't put the ball in the back of the net," Eve added.
"Unfortunately, we did not get the required result to move on and it's back to the drawing board for us. Hopefully, we can rise out of this and continue preparing the players to perform at a good level in international football."
Trinidad and Tobago started with two attacking forwards in Caesar and Winchester for the first time in the tournament as they went in search of early goals and the latter had two glorious opportunities to put them on the scoresheet in the first half.
Eve could not utilise the services of Seattle Sounders striker Cordell Cato, who sustained a blow to his ankle in training before the Panama match.
Honduras, the tournament's defending champions, did not dominate T&T for most of the match but took their chances well. The Hondurans also hit the crossbar in the 17th minute with Johnny Leveron's shot from the top of the area.
Trinidad and Tobago keeper Marchand was active and pulled off a few good saves, until he struggled to reach a cross from Wilmer Cristano which led to the opening goal.
After going a goal behind, Winchester had two good chances to pull T&T level, including a free header in the 43rd minute which he put straight at the Honduran keeper.
Trinidad and Tobago also enjoyed a spell of possession and half-chances midway through the second half, with Kevin Molino sending a cross through the box in the 61st, shooting over the bar from just outside the area in the 63rd and pulling a left-footed effort wide of the near post in the 65th.
However, the second goal for Honduras broke the Caribbean team and the Central Americans looked the more likely to score again towards the end.
"We had plenty chances at goal and we took advantage of some. (Trinidad and Tobago) came out wanting to shoot from outside. We knew we had to show more security coming out of the back and be a bit more calm," said Honduras coach Luis Fernandez Suarez.
"This was an important game for us against Trinidad because of what it meant, a berth to the next round. We are getting used to playing in games like this."