Cavalry's Malcolm Shaw gets Caribbean call to World Cup qualifier

CPL forward faces must-win with Trinidad & Tobago in Saturday’s elimination stage of soccer playoff

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The World Cup has called on Malcolm Shaw.

Trinidad and Tobago has pulled the soccer striker away for qualifier duties, leaving Cavalry FC one more forward shy in the short-term.

Bully for him, but maybe not so much for Calgary’s professional men’s footie side.

“Obviously, it’s always tough to leave and miss games,” said Shaw, via Zoom from his native Caribbean home. “But duty calls internationally, and you got to do what you got to do. And it’s also, obviously, always a pleasure.

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“But I’m confident in my teammates back home,” continued Shaw, whose mother is a native of Trinidad and Tobago while he himself is a native of Pickering, Ont. “You know, we have a good squad and we have guys that are adaptable, so I’m sure against Forge, we’re gonna go and put in a shift and get a result.”

That happens Saturday for host Cavalry (1W-6D-1L) against nemesis Forge FC (4-1-2) at ATCO Field (3 p.m., OneSoccer, OneSoccer.ca).

Meanwhile, Shaw suits up for Trinidad & Tobago on Saturday against the Bahamas in Basseterre, Saint Kitts and Nevis (1:30 p.m.).

The match is the second of two games this week for T&T in Concacaf second-round qualifying — with 30 teams in action from Central America and the Caribbean — on the road to the 2026 World Cup.

On Wednesday night, Shaw and host T&T drew 2-2 with Grenada in the first of the week’s qualifying contests at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.

“Kind of got out to a bit of a slow start,” said Shaw, of T&T giving up two first-half goals. “But we were able to fight our way back and grind out a draw. So obviously not ideal — not what we wanted. But … hey … a tie is better than a loss.

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“We’ve just gotta head into Saint Kitts now and handle business.”

Their business is a needed must-win …

Or else Trinidad & Tobago is eliminated from further contention for the World Cup, to be held jointly by Canada, Mexico and the United States.

“To be honest, I’ve personally never played against the Bahamas,” said Shaw, who expects to draw in for Saturday’s big game after watching from the sideline Wednesday. “But I do know history, and it speaks for itself. They actually sabotaged our qualifying back in 2021.

“I wasn’t a part of the squad yet, but based on what the information they told us, we tied Bahamas, and that was a game where we had to win to qualify to move on to the next stage for Qatar (2022). So some bitter history with them. But obviously we’re hoping to handle business and redeem ourselves.”

Shaw, 28, is relative new to T&T’s international action.

He made his debut last year for the Caribbean nation in the Gold Cup, playing in all three games — against St. Kitts, Jamaica and the U.S.

Then Shaw returned to the national squad for Concacaf Nations League competition in September against Curacao and El Salvador. He scored his first goal for Trinidad & Tobago in the historic first win over El Salvador.

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He also played against the U.S. in a two-legged Nations League set in November.

“The thing with the national team is that the different guys get brought in and out,” Shaw said. “But for the most part, the core group of the guys I’ve gotten to know pretty well over my time. It’s a good group.”

Trinidad and Tobago soccer
From left, Trinidad and Tobago Levi García, Malcolm Shaw and Andre Rampersad celebrate during a Concacaf Gold Cup match against Saint Kitts and Nevis in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on June 25, 2023. Photo by Lynne Sladky /The Associated Press

Included are four other Canadian Premier League talents in Pacific FC’s Reon Moore and Steffen Yeates and HFX Wanderers FC players Ryan Telfer and Andre Rampersad.

The CPL has certainly helped Shaw become an international attacker.

“Yeah … I could say that, for sure,” confirmed Shaw, who played four seasons with CPL’s Atlético Ottawa before signing during this last off-season with Cavalry. “Because obviously, the time in which I was kind of being observed and got my opportunity with Trinidad, I was playing in the CPL. Obviously, when I got initially chosen, I was with Ottawa at the time, and then now with Calgary, I’m getting that opportunity again. The CPL is a great — it’s a growing league, it’s a stepping stone, and it’s an opportunity for players to be seen and have a professional career.”

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“Malcolm’s been a great addition to the club,” said Cavalry GM/head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. “It’s always tough losing your Golden Boot winner in Myer Bevan, especially so late in our pre-season. So what we did was bring in somebody in Malcolm who has league experience and also Concacaf experience.”

But it’s been a rough go lately up front, with injuries wreaking havoc with the attacking unit.

Wheeldon & Co. are down superstar Ali Musse, of course. And Akio is likely going to need a few games to get back up to snuff. So it’s on fellow forwards Lleyton Brooks, who is still searching for his first goal in CPL action, and the team’s leading scorer in Toby Warschewski — who has five in all competitions — to provide offence Saturday.

“That’s where you lean into your adaptability,” Wheeldon said. “When I talk about scoring goals by committee, I think that’s what we’ve got to lean into. We’re fortunate we do have a striker that’s scoring (in Warschewski). I think Sergio Camargo is going to hit a hot streak. Lleyton Brooks has been in and around goal-action very quickly — I think he’s hit the post three times. We’ve got Willy Akio full fitness, so whether he starts or comes into the game, we’ll have to assess that.

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“So not too despondent, really, with this.”

Shaw isn’t worried, either.

“Hey … Toby’s our leading scorer right now,” echoed Shaw. “So I know Toby will go in and do what he does.”

While Shaw and Trinidad hopefully get a win in their game.

“I’m super proud — very humbled — and I feel very fortunate and blessed to have an opportunity to represent our national team,” added Shaw. “It’s something I don’t take for granted. There’s plenty of players that would like to be in my shoes and have this chance to play for Trinidad, so anytime I put on this shirt and get the call, I’m ready to give my best in terms of effort and quality.”

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