Playing in a competitive match for the first time in months, the Puerto Rico Islanders looked disorganized and unsettled.This gave Honduran league leaders CD Marathon several first half opportunities due to a the Islanders losing their shape and not communicating well with one another. The Islanders had actually begun the game well behind Peter Villegas and Johnathan Steele’s strong play but faded around minute 15 not to recover until the second half.
But after halftime, Nicholas Adderly who helped defeat Puerto Rico last year in the USL final leveled the match for the Islanders and the hero of both the qualifying and group stages, Kendall Jagdeosingh the T&T international did it again scoring a late goal giving the Islanders an improbable win and a lead heading to the second leg of the quarterfinal tie in Honduras.
The pitch which often in Bayoman looks un kept was in outstanding condition and the football was entertaining despite the rust from the Islanders early. Once again Puerto Rico surged late and made it a night to remember for USL. Don’t expect the Islanders to sit on the one goal aggregate lead either: under Colin Clarke Puerto Rico plays a free flowing attacking style and I would expect the USL side to be chasing an away goal in the first half of the return leg next week.
Once again the results the previous two nights raises the big question about MLS teams excuse making in pre-season tournaments. Much as the league apologists made excuses based on fixture congestion only to have them refuted by the play of Puerto Rico and Montreal who were going through much more congested stretches of fixtures than any MLS team (Puerto Rico played 17 games in 47 days over 6 time zones at one point during the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League), these performances beg questions about MLS’ overall competitiveness.
The Houston Dynamo notwithstanding, the MLS has generally sent outclassed and disinterested sides into legitimate international competitions the past several seasons. With USL’s remarkable success at the highest levels in CONCACAF, Don Garber and co. in New York need to rethink how they schedule and approach these competitions. Many MLS oriented fans or snobs demand respect from the football world. But regardless of the circumstances if the perception is you are being shown up by the second division in your country, you will never earn the respect you feel entitled to.