Posted on June 22, 2012
MARABELLA, Trinidad – The Puerto Rico Islanders are headed to the CONCACAF Champions League — again.
The North American Soccer League team became the 24th and last team to qualify for Champions League, defeating Antigua Barracuda FC, 2-0, Thursday night to make the field for the fifth consecutive year.
Puerto Rico finished in third place in the Caribbean Club Champions Cup and made then one of only three teams to qualify for every season of the Champions League since its inception in 2008.
The Islanders will face the LA Galaxy (U.S.) and Isidro Metapan (El Salvador) in Group 5 in the Champions League.
In the Caribbean title game, Caledonia AIA outlasted fellow Trinidadian side and three-time champion W Connection, 4-3, on penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw to claim its first CFU club crown. Caledonia’s previous best finish in the competition was a runner-up showing in 1998.
The result meant that Caledonia will move into Group 4 of the Champions League against Seattle and Marathon while W Connection, making its return to the CCL after a two-year absence, will play Xelaju of Guatemala and Chivas de Guadalajara in Group 8.
Joshua Hansen scored for a second successive game and Jonathan Fana added a second-half penalty kick for the Islanders.
After Hansen put the Islanders ahead in the 14th minute, the Barracuda’s Quinton Griffith had a chance to equalize in the 31st minute, but he shot his penalty kick off the left post and the Puerto Rico defense cleared the rebound.
The loss was the sixth in a row for Barracuda FC, which essentially doubles as the Antigua and Barbuda national team and plays in the USL PRO league. It has not won since beating W Connection 2-1 in the second round of the Caribbean club championship on May 10.
In the championship match, the team endured two lighting failures – one in each half – before the game moved into extratime to break the scoreless draw.
Radanfah Abu Bakr, who scored the first goal in Caledonia’s 2-0 victory over Antigua in Tuesday’s semifinals, put the “Arima Morvant Fire” ahead in the 97th minute, but Clyde Leon equalized six minutes later.
Caledonia finally prevailed in the penalty shootout when Guyanese goalkeeper Ronson Williams dived low to his right to thwart Johan Peltier’s attempt, securing the title for Caledonia.
Photo: Jonathan Fana connected for the insurance goal for Puerto Rico. Andy Mead/YCJ
Categories: Antigua and Barbuda, Caribbean, Champions League, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, U.S.A.
Tags: Antigua Barracuda, Caledonia AIA, CFU Champions Cup, CONCACAF Champions League, Jonathan Fana, Joshua Hansen, LA Galaxy, Marathon, Metapan, Puerto Rico Islanders, Seattle Sounders, USL PRO, W Connection