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Gaudette Keeps Clean Sheet: Islanders Win in CONCACAF

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Tuesday Night’s CONCACAF Champions League semifinal match was easy on the eye especially if you have the luxury of watching in HD as I did on Telefutura for much of the match. Bill Gaudette had another spectacular match in goal for the Islanders making several point blank saves and organizing his defense exceptionally well on set pieces. Puerto Rico takes a 2-0 aggregate lead to Mexico City against Cruz Azul.

The Islanders got an early goal by Sandi Gbandi after great service by Josh Hansen. Hansen whose play was stellar playing right between the midfield trio of  Gbandi, Johnny Steele, and James Marcelin and the forward Nicholas Addlery provided some of the key play for much of the night. Stelle was his usual steady self while Addlery proved elusive for the Cruz Azul defense. Addlery scored a spectacular goal on a free kick in minute thirty four, and continued to physically torment the defenders.

While the Islanders allowed the Mexican side many chances in the second half, the USL-1 team kept their shape well and generally closed down space until very late. Tired legs did play a role towards the end of the match which is not surprising when you consider that Puerto Rico is still a month away from beginning the USL-1 Regular Season.

The Islanders proved wasteful at times themselves and never scored the vital and perhaps decisive third goal. Cristian Arrieta uncharacteristically hit a poor header off a corner kick which should have been easily put on the frame. Then minutes later Noah Delgado appeared to be taken down in the box by the Cruz Azul keeper, but no penalty was called.

Also potentially significant late for the Islanders was the debut of the tall Kyle Veris as a defender. Veris, has CONCACAF experience having played for the Galaxy in the 2006 CONCACAF Champions Cup, and also is a veteran of the Norweigen second division. (Veris played a role in getting his side promoted to the top flight of Norweigen football but was released after promotion.) It is possible Manager Colin Clarke will feature Veris and possibly sit Scott Jones in the second leg.

Another disappointment for Puerto Rico was the inability to spring Kendall Jagdeosingh free on counter attacking goal scoring opportunity. The Islanders seemed too tired and too committed to defending to take chances going forward. The failure of the Islanders to score a third goal could be fatal when the semifinal round concludes April 7th in Mexico.

Did Puerto Rico do enough tonight to buffer themselves for the return leg? Or will the Islanders suffer the same heartbreaking disappointment that fellow USL side Montreal and countless MLS sides have all suffered in Mexico? While the Islanders will still need a herculean effort to advance, they have put themselves in a good position, which is all you could ask of this first leg.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. USA in 2010

    March 18, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Good win, but I REALLY fear our boys needed that 3rd goal.

  2. joel es latest soccer news

    March 18, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Great Game!!! The Islanders are for real.

  3. Modibo

    March 18, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    PR has done a fantastic job in this tourney… they’ve really opened my eyes to the USL, too. I think they’ve done very well to get into this position. Two goals might do the trick, though. It seems very manageable for Cruz Azul, and they might be a little complacent heading back to Mex City with a surmountable deficit. A third goal might have really lit a fire under them for the return leg.

    Go Islanders!

  4. Soccer Guru

    March 18, 2009 at 10:41 am

    It’s amazing how many familiar names and faces play for Puerto Rico. This is why MLS isn’t a complete league. Too many capable players who can play effectively on the MLS level end up in USL. Whether it is the cap or bad management decisions, the gap between the leagues is not what it should be.

    Spectacular effort by the Islanders. But they are going to have to finish all their chances to win in Mexico City. Difficult? Yes. Impossible? No.

  5. sam

    March 18, 2009 at 7:35 am

    ok

  6. Lars

    March 18, 2009 at 7:32 am

    Hear Hear. Good for the Islanders though.

  7. Bishopville Red

    March 18, 2009 at 7:07 am

    I just can’t watch. I’m supposed to be in Montreal right now.

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