Caribbean Cup kicks off in Flatbush

New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips, left, takes the ball from New England Revolution defender Andrew Farrell during the first half of an MLS Eastern Conference Finals soccer match Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014, in Harrison, N.J. The Revolution won the first leg of the finals, 2-1.
Associated Press / Bill Kostroun

The local Caribbean Cup tournament kicks off its 24th season on Sunday, May 24 at the Thomas Jefferson High School Complex in Flatlands, Brooklyn. The opening day’s top billing will feature last year’s beaten finalist, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, against a difficult Antigua and Barbuda team, starting at 5 pm. The preceding matchup is a clash between the French and the Spanish, as the always talented Haiti takes on a very promising Panama squad.

Defending champion Jamaica, which has won the tournament eleven times, obviously is the team to beat in 2015 and manager Norbert Radjpaul is very aware of that fact. According to the manager, Jamaica will be ready. “We will have our national players from Jamaica and players from the Jamaica Premier League who have played with us over the years,” said Radjpaul. “We want to do positive things and show what Jamaican players can do.”

Radjpaul’s voice emitted a serious tone when he spoke of his team. He gave the impression of a manager, reflecting the clubs attitude, who will leave no stone unturned in his quest to field the best Jamaican team for the Caribbean Cup. He is proud of his team’s record over the years and seemed determined to maintain the same high standard that the team exhibited in the past that has made it an eleven-time Caribbean Cup champion.

According to the manager, most of last year’s winning team will be back, including international midfielder Jermaine Hue, defender Oneil Thorpe and the top goalkeeper in the tournament the past three years, Devon Haughton. Radjpaul boasts of 15 players coming from Jamaica among his squad of 24 for this year’s tournament, including four players from the present Jamaica National Under-20 squad.

Jamaica starts its title defense on Sunday, May 31 in clash with St. Kitts and Nevis in the 5 pm game; the preceding matchup will see Trinidad and Tobago go against Dominica. Other teams in the tournament are St. Lucia and Guyana. All games are played at the Thomas Jefferson High School Complex at Flatlands and Shepherd Avenues in Flatlands, Brooklyn.

MLS

After a goalless draw against FC Dallas at Frisco, Texas, last Friday night, the New York Red Bulls (4–1–5) will host the Philadelphia Union (2–7–3) in an MLS Eastern Conference showdown on Sunday, May 24, in a 5 pm game at Red Bull Arena. Its a Conference rivalry that the Red Bulls have dominated over the years. The Red Bulls are 5–0–1 versus the Union at home and would certainly want to maintain that dominance.

The Union, on the other hand, are struggling, but they are coming off a 1–0 upset of Eastern Conference leader D.C. United at home last weekend. Zach Pfeffer scored in extra time to end D.C. United’s eight-game unbeaten streak for the victory, which did much for the struggling team. The Union will come into Red Bull Arena on Sunday and look to continue its winning ways and secure a third win in the young season.

A number of the New York City FC (1–6–4) players will visit a very familiar venue, Rio Tinto Stadium, on Saturday when the team plays at Real Salt Lake. Former RSL Head Coach Jason Kreis, who now leads NYCFC, returns to the club which he led to the 2009 MLS Cup title; Kreis has former RSL players who played for him at RSL making the trip back: Ned Grabavoy, Chris Wingert, Sebastian Velasquez and goalkeeper Josh Saunders. It should be a dandy reunion in which the host Real Salt Lake (3–3–5) won’t be too accommodating since it has a record it must improve on in the tough Western Conference where it is always a dog fight for a playoff spot.

USA beats Mexico

The USA Women’s national team seems ready for next month’s FIFA World Cup in Canada as it showed its power and pace in defeating Mexico, 5-1, in an international friendly at StubHub Center in Carson (CA) last Sunday night. Forward Sydney Leroux with her power, pace and excellent scoring ability was just too much for the Mexicans as she powered past the visitors defense on a number of occasions on her way to scoring twice. Leroux, who scored in the 28th and 61st minutes, as her American teammates exhibited a high intensity, fast paced, physical game that was just too much for the Mexicans and will certainly will be a problem for its opponents at the World Cup. Leroux got help also from second half substitute Abby Wambach’s (58th, 72nd) two goals and Lori Chalupny’s (46th) strike. Ariana Calderon (39th) scored the lone goal for Mexico to tie the game just before the half, but that was all Mexico could muster. Mexico’s goalkeeper Cecilia Santiago was outstanding in the nets and kept her team in the game during the early goings.

The game was one of three scheduled as warm-ups just before the World Cup; the Americans will play Korea Republic on Saturday, May 30, at Red Bull Arena (Harrison, NJ), 4:30 PM in its last warm-up match before heading to Vancouver. At the World Cup, the USA will play Australia (June 8), Sweden (June 12) and Nigeria (June 16).

St. Vincent wins

The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Men’s National Team played undefeated in three matches on the way to winning the 2015 Windward Islands Football Association Championship. The Vincentians, led by Golden Boot winner Myron Samuels’ goal in the 22nd minute, beat Dominica, 1–0 in last Sunday’s final at the Philip Marcelin Grounds in Vieux Fort, St. Lucia. Samuels’ four goals in the tournament powered the Vincentians to victory after their last place finish when they hosted the tournament two years ago.

The talented forward scored in his team’s two previous matches, tapping in the winner and his second goal in the game in a 3–2 victory versus Grenada in the tournament opener last Tuesday and scoring again in a 2–1 win over host St. Lucia in the second game. Shane Rennie tallied twice for Grenada in the lost. Vincentian Emerald George was voted the tournament’s most valuable player.

Grenada topped St. Lucia, 2–0, in the third-place game. All four Windward Island teams are preparing for 2018 World Cup qualifiers with home-and-away matchups in June. Dominica will play Canada, Grenada will go against Puerto Rico, St. Lucia will take on Antigua and Barbuda, while the Vincy Heat will welcome Guyana. Also, Grenada will host the 2016 CONCACAF Under-17 Women’s Championship, March 3-13, 2016. In the eight-team tournament, three teams will qualify for the FIFA Under-17 Women’s Championship in Jordan in September 2016.

New York Red Bulls defender Roy Miller, top, heads the ball as he battles Sporting Kansas City forward C.J. Sapong (17) in the first half during an MLS playoff soccer match at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014.
Associated Press / Rich Schultz, File

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