The Puerto Rico Islanders return to the Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium tomorrow to square off against Colin Clarke and the Carolina RailHawks. Kick off is set for 7:30 p.m.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s game against the Carolina RailHawks, Coach Adrian Whitbread described the fixture as "massive".
“Yes, it is a big game, but I think every single game now from here on in is a massive game, because it is going to define where we finish the season. Momentum is a key thing to grab hold of now,” Whitbread told the Club’s official website.
“We can’t afford to feel sorry for ourselves. We were feeling very low traveling back to Puerto Rico from Los Angeles, a long journey back, but that's' done now. We have got to get on the front foot, get our shoulders back, get our chins back up and be proud to wear the orange shirts on Saturday and for the rest of the season.”
The Coach is also preparing for the upcoming international break that will see him lose up to twelve players, but was unable to provide any information on those currently missing out through injury. He did, however, have a message for those Islanders fans that may still be hurting after Wednesday’s game.
“Don’t stop believing,” he said, before adding “I think the true supporters will stick by us and understand we’ve had a tough stretch, but it is the same message for them."
“Don’t feel down. We are disappointed and all we can do is take business that is ahead of us. What is behind us is behind us.”
“It was a disappointing night last Wednesday. I am sure everyone back in Puerto Rico is very disappointed, as the players are, as the staff are, but it is important to come together again. We will do that tomorrow when we get back to Puerto Rico. We will regroup as a group of players and staff and we will get ready for tomorrow night.”
The RailHawks come in to the game on the back of a 1-0 win against the Atlanta Silverbacks, only their second away win of the season.
Coach Colin Clarke will be well known to Islanders' fans after his five years at the Club, as well as RailHawks' goalkeeper, Ray Burse, and Puerto Rico international defender John Krause, the pair spending one and two seasons with the Club, respectively.
Season so far
The RailHawks sit in mid-table of the NASL standings this season on 31 points. With an impressive home record of 6-5-1 the club have enjoyed success when playing at the WakeMed Soccer Park. However, the Club have struggled on the road, picking up just two wins to supplement two ties and six defeats. That should give confidence to an Islanders side that has picked up just a single win in their last four games.
Meanwhile the Islanders find themselves just behind league leaders, the San Antonio Scorpions, in second place. At home the Islanders have an impressive 7-3-1 record. However, much like their opponents the team hasstruggled on the road, recording a record of 3-3-6.
Last time out
This is the final time the two sides will meet this season, with both teams sharing an identical record of 1-1-1. Last time the RailHawks visited the island, they left pointless thanks to goals from Richard Martinez, Nicholas Addlery and Englishman David Foley, which secured the Islanders a 3-1 victory.
The last time the two sides met, it was the RailHawks that took all three points- recording their first win of the season in the process. Colin Clarke’s men left it late with an 88th minute goal from Ty Shipalane stealing a draw from the Islanders.
Safe hands Martin
Part of the reason for the Islanders stern backline. could be the steady hands of goalkeeper Richard Martin. The former Manchester City custodian sits in the top five of the ‘goals against average’ and saves column.
Should the 24-year old complete 90 minutes on Saturday, he will break the 2000 minute barrier for the season, making him a key figure for the side and their stern defense .