After months of battle in the NASL, the Puerto Rico Islanders are back where they enjoy it best – in the do-or-die series that weed out the contenders and crown the champions. Following a 52 point season (only 2 points behind league leader Carolina) that saw the Islanders go undefeated in Bayamón, Colin Clarke’s men are only one day away from facing their first NASL playoffs opponents: the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. With a spot in the NASL Finals on the line, the Islanders aim to continue their success at home as they open this semi-finals series in Bayamón on Friday night at 7:30pm.
While at first glance the Islanders might look like clear favorites in this semi-finals matchup, the reality is that the “Tropa Naranja” will face a very challenging opponent in the Strikers. The season series between these teams was split evenly with both teams managing 1 win, 2 draws, and 1 loss in 4 games. Also, the Islanders will have to deal with being inactive since September 21st while the Strikers come into the match with the momentum of having defeated FC Edmonton 5-0 on Saturday during their quarterfinals match.
Aside from the series between these teams, the Islanders and Strikers also have a very comparable record during the tail end of the season. The Islanders recorded 7 wins, 2 draws, and 1 loss during their last 10 games of the season while the Strikers ended the season with 6 wins, 2 draws, and 2 losses in their last 10 matches.
In order to come out on top in this difficult series, the Islanders will have to keep doing what made them great this season, rely on their strong support at home and dominate in Bayamón as well as continuing their strong offensive game. The Islanders are tied for second in the Goals scored column with 41 goals, evidence of their strong offense. On the other hand, the Strikers are tied for third worst record in the Goals Against column having allowed 36 goals during the season. Having to finish this series on the road, the Orange Troop will be looking to have a decisive match this week in Bayamón and then travel to Fort Lauderdale with a favorable result under their belts.
The Puerto Rico Islanders begin their NASL semi-finals matchup this weekend when they host the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in Bayamón on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30pm. The second leg of the semi-finals will take place in Fort Lauderdale on October 15th at 7:30pm. The winner of this series will secure a spot in the NASL Finals where they will face the winner of the other semifinal series between the Carolina RailHawks and the NSC Minnesota Stars.