In a rematch of the 2010 USSF D-2 Finals, the Puerto Rico Islanders visited the Carolina RailHawks on Saturday night. After suffering their first loss of the season earlier in the week – when they played the Minnesota NSC Stars – the Islanders looked to turn things around and return to their winning ways.
The Islanders started the match with early pressure but could not find any clear chances during the first 10 minutes of the game. As the game progressed, the game settled a bit and the home team took over most of the possession. By the 20th minute, most of the game was being played in the Islanders half – with the Puerto Rico defense trying to retake control of the game. A few minutes later, RailHawks forward Ettienne Barbara scored his 10th goal in 8 games and made it 1-0 for the home team.
After Barbara’s goal, the RailHawks continued to pressure the Islanders’ goal but could not find another scoring opportunity. Towards the last 10 minutes of the game, the Islanders evened out possession and turned to the offensive. The teams went to their locker rooms with the first half score at 1-0.
The second half started with the Islanders looking for the equalizing goal. Not long into the second-half, Ettienne Barbara scored his second goal of the night in the 52nd minutes and put the RailHawks ahead with a score of 2-0. Puerto Rico saw a couple of close opportunities, including a great shot on goal by Noah Delgado in the 54th minute, but the Islanders could not break through the RailHawks defense.
With the game settling into back-and-forth action, coach Colin Clarke sought to change the flow of the match and sent in a couple of substitutions in the 64th minute. Bouraee went in for Faña and Van Shaik for Telesford. Not long after, Ettienne Barbara was again involved in the attack when he fed the ball to Pablo Campos who made it 3-0 for the home team in the 67th minute. The remainder of the game became a stalemate with close opportunities for both teams but neither being able to score after Campos set the 3-0.
The Islanders will now travel to Guyana where on May 25th they will face Alpha United FC in the semi-finals of the CFU Club Championship Cup in hopes of qualifying for the CONCACAF Champions League as well as defending their 2010 Caribbean crown.
If the Tropa Naranja secures the win against Alpha United FC, they would then play in the CFU Final on May 27th against the winner of the other semi-final between Tempete FC of Haiti and Defense Force of Trinidad and Tobago. The two teams making the CFU Final, as well as the 3rd place in the Cup, will earn berths in the preliminary round of the CONCACAF Champions League. The third Caribbean spot will be decided in a match before the Final on May 27th in Guyana.
The Islanders’ next home game will be June 1st at 8:00pm at the Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium in Bayamón against the NSC Minnesota Stars – a re-match of the Islanders’ first loss of the season. You can buy individual tickets through www.ticketpop.com or calling the Islanders front office at 787-520-9684 to order the new Flex Pass.
Carolina RailHawks Lineup:
Puerto Rico Islanders Lineup: