Red Bulls battle for first place

Romario Canmpbell (JAM) beating Jolston Whatley (SKN).
Keith Dawson

New York Red Bulls midfielder Lloyd Sam has D.C. United’s number; for the third consecutive game this season against the Eastern Conference leader, he found the back of the net, and this time it was the game-winner in a 3–0 victory at Red Bull Arena last Sunday night as 22,645 fans watched.

The win pushed the Red Bulls (12–7–6, 42 pts) into second place in the East, only two points behind D.C. (13–5–10, 44), and also helped the locals capture the Atlantic Cup with a 2–0–1 (two wins and a draw) record versus United in the annual season series.

The Red Bulls dominated the game from the outset and this helped Sam to continue his scoring trend against the opponent. In the 33rd minute, the midfielder received a pass on the right wing from Bradley Wright-Phillips and beat United goalkeeper Bill Hamid at the far post; it was Sam’s seventh goal of the season and third against D.C. this year.

Wright-Phillips picked up where Sam left off and registered his team-leading 12th and 13th goals on the year. In the 42nd minute, Wright-Phillips got on the end of a Mike Grella cross from the right wing and hit a wonderful right-footed volley into the upper right corner of the goal as a helpless Hamid watched his net shake rapidly behind him. Grella, from Glen Cove, Long Island, registered his seventh assist of the season. Midfielder Sacha Kljestan got his team-leading ninth assist in the 64th minute, when he found a seam in the United defense and sent Wright-Phillips in on goal for the third tally on a happy night at Red Bull Arena, a night the Red Bulls welcomed back Jamaican international full back Kemar Lawrence, who returned from a hamstring injury.

Hamid clearly was United’s best player; he made excellent saves early in the contest to keep the Red Bulls off the score sheet, including thwarting Grella in a one-on-one situation and making a save from point blank range on Kljestan’s header in the 30th minute.

Haiti, Jamaica in local championship

The 2015 Caribbean Cup championship game promises to be a dandy when eleven-time defending champion Team Jamaica battles a very technically sound Team Haiti on Sunday, Sept., 6, 4:30 pm at the Jefferson Sports Complex in Flatlands, Brooklyn. It will be Haiti’s first appearance in the championship game.

Team Jamaica had an easy time beating Team St. Kitts and Nevis, 4–0, in the first semifinal last Sunday. Irvino English, Denzil Watson, Daemion Benjamin and Javid Morris tallied for the Jamaicans. In the second semifinal, a highly technical game in which both teams displayed fine ball-handling skills and very good tactical play, Team Haiti overcame Team St. Lucia, 2–0, with goals in the last five minutes of the contest. Abdias Daout and Marvens Dominique scored for Haiti.

Team Jamaica’s easy win in the semifinals could hurt it if the team is not mindful of its mental state. In many instances, a team coming off an easy victory would carry over a complacent or less competitive mind-set into the next game, and this could have an adverse effect. Conversely, Team Haiti survived a battle against Team St. Lucia, and if it takes this battling mentality into the championship game, it will give Haiti a mental edge that could lead to a good result for the Haitians. Team St. Kitts and Nevis will battle Team St. Lucia for third place at 2 pm.

Major League Soccer

Nigerian international Obafemi Martins continues to carry the reviving Seattle Sounders (12–13–2). The forward scored his 10th goal of the season to lead the Sounders to a 2-1 victory over Western Conference rival Portland Timbers (11–9–7). Brad Evans scored Seattle’s second goal from the penalty spot. The win — in front of 6464,358 fans, the fourth largest attendance for an MLS games in Seattle — put the Sounders in the playoff picture as it pushed the team into a sixth place tie with the San Jose Earthquakes and the last playoff spot.

Martins had a foot in both goals; after fighting through two defenders to score in the sixth minute, he drew a foul in the penalty area in the 42nd minute to create the penalty for the second goal. The win was only the third for the Sounders in its last 10 games. Jack Jewsbury scored for Portland.

In other MLS games last weekend, Toronto FC beat Montreal Impact, 2–1, and the lost cost Frank Klopas his job as coach of the Impact. The team announced that assistant coach Mauro Biello will take over on an interim basis. The Columbus Crew defeated New York City FC, 2–1; New England Revolution got the better of Philadelphia Union, 1–0; Chicago Fire and Orlando City FC played to a 1–1 tie; FC Dallas knocked off Real Salt Lake, 2–0; Houston Dynamo beat Vancouver Whitecaps, 2–0; and Colorado Rapids squeezed past Sporting Kansas City, 2–1.

USA

U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann, under pressure to win the berth to the FIFA Confederations Cup in the Oct. 10 playoff game against Mexico in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena (CA), strengthened the team considerably for international exhibitions against Peru and Brazil next week.

Called into the 23-man squad are English Premier League players goalkeeper Tim Howard (Everton FC) and defender Geoff Cameron (Stoke City FC); New England Revs (MLS) midfielder Jermaine Jones returns from a knee injury and Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC, MLS), dropped from the Gold Cup squad for the playoff round, was also recalled The USA, which finished fourth in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, plays Peru on Friday, Sept. 4 at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C., 7 pm and Brazil on Sept. 8 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, (MA).

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