The Puerto Rico Islanders, recently crowned CFU Champions for a second year in a row, return to NASL action on Wednesday when they host the NSC Minnesota Stars at the Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium in Bayamon. The ‘Tropa Naranja’ has not played a NASL league match since May 21st when they lost to the Carolina RailHawks in Cary, North Carolina.
After starting the season with 3 wins and 1 tie, the Islanders have now lost 2 straight NASL games – both on the road. The first loss of the season for the ‘Tropa Naranja’ came against the NSC Minnesota Stars, Wednesday’s opponents, when the Islanders lost 2-0 in Minnesota. Wednesday’s game marks the third time these teams meet this season (1 win and 1 loss) and the fifth time overall (Islanders lead the series 2-1-1).
The NSC Minnesota Stars are currently in second place in the NASL standings with 3 wins, 4 ties, and 2 losses – of their 2 losses, 1 was at the hand of the Islanders. After allowing 3 goals in Puerto Rico earlier this season, Minnesota’s defense has improved considerably having registered shutouts in 3 of their last 4 games.
Having secured the CFU Championship, the Islanders now turn their attention back to the NASL. The ‘Tropa Naranja’ currently sits in fourth place even though they have played fewer games than any other team in the league. A win on Wednesday would tie them for second place with NSC Minnesota and FC Edmonton – both currently with 13 points. One key for this match will be the Islanders’ offense as the team has failed to score in their last 2 league matches.
"We must fight to get back to the top of the scoreboard in the NASL. We have a busy schedule coming up with league games and CONCACAF Champions League and we can't afford a third straight league loss", said Islanders' assistant coach Adrian Whitbread.
"We have to defend our home field undefeated record. It will be good to play in front of our fans after bringing home the CFU Championship", said Islanders' defender Richard Martínez.
Kick-off is scheduled for 8:05pm on Wednesday night.