The NASL’s Puerto Rico Islanders have played the Cinderella role in previous editions of the CONCACAF Champions League, and tonight they’ll try to begin another upstart run in the upcoming edition of the region’s top club competition.
The Islanders continue their pursuit of a 2012–13 CCL berth tonight, with a trip to Trinidad and Tobago to face W Connection in semifinal round of the 2012 Caribbean Club Champions Cup. The winner of the match advances to the final and secures an automatic Champions League berth, while the loser will have to win in a third-place playoff to gain qualification.
In NASL action, the Islanders lost top spot in the standings, falling 2-0 to San Antonio at the weekend. With no time to dwell on the loss, the Islanders will look to bounce back in a CFU competition where they have achieved prior success.
The Islanders are two-time defending champions of the tournament, having won the 2010 and 2011 editions back-to-back. W Connection, of Trinidad and Tobago, is the most successful club in tournament history, having won the competition four times.
The Savonetta Boys advanced to the semifinals after finishing runner-up to Antigua Barracuda in their second round group. The team last lifted the trophy in 2009, defeating the Islanders in the final 2-1.
Islanders star forward Jonathan Faña was with W Connection at the time. He was an integral part of the team that defeated the Islanders in the 2009 CFU Club Championship Final, before going on to join the Islanders in 2010.
Puerto Rico topped their group, playing out a scoreless draw with Caledonia AIA before defeating George Town 8-0, the largest margin of victory in the current year on the cup.
The match is being held at Manny Ramjohn Stadium in San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago.
In the other semifinal, USL PRO’s Antigua Barracuda FC takes on Caledonia AIA tonight, with the winner getting an automatic slot into the CONCACAF Champions League.
The winners will face off two days later to determine the Caribbean champion, with the losers playing one another in the consolation match immediately prior to determine third place and the last berth in the Champions League.
Based on the Champions League draw, the Caribbean club winner will play MLS’s Seattle Sounders and Marathon of Honduras in Group 4. The runner-up will face Xelaju of Guatemala and Chivas de Guadalajara in Group 8, while the third-place team will go into Group 5 with another MLS club, the LA Galaxy and Isidro Metapan of El Salvador.
CFU Club Champions Cup
At Marabella, Trinidad
Tuesday, June 19
Antigua Barracuda FC (ATG) vs. Caledonia AIA (TRI)
Puerto Rico Islanders (PUR) vs. W Connection (TRI)
Thursday, June 21