The local Caribbean Cup tournament kicked into high gear last Sunday, Aug. 11, when the playoffs got under way at Jefferson High School Stadium in Flatlands, Brooklyn. Defending champion St. Lucia and Guyana won their quarterfinal games in front of a packed crowd at the Jefferson Stadium to advance to the semifinals on Sunday, Aug. 25. St. Lucia defeated Grenada, 4-3, on penalties after a hard-fought battled that ended goalless; Guyana topped St. Vincent and the Grenadines, 3-0.
St. Lucia came up against a very big and physical Grenada team, which was out to avenge the loss to the defending champion in last year’s championship game, but St. Lucia was a very organized and skilled unit, determined to retain its title. The smaller St. Lucians overcame the very physical play by the Grenadians; they maintained their focus throughout. “We said at half time (to the players) to keep playing, keep your head,” said St. Lucia Captain John Perry Joseph, who is among several players imported from the Caribbean for the competition. Joseph is in his fourth Caribbean Cup tournament.
In a very hard-fought contest, St. Lucia had the edge in possession; it dominated in midfield with the excellent play of Romiel Felix and Pernal Williams. The pair was strong on the ball and distributed it effectively. They created several opportunities for their forwards, the best of which came in the 30th minute when Vernon Abbott latched onto a through pass on the right side, dribbled across the goal and had a clear shot at the goal from 18 yards; the ball should have settled in the back of the net to put St. Lucia ahead, 1-0, instead, his left-footed shot sailed well over the crossbar.
Grenada had its chances in the second half as well but failed to capitalize. In the penalty shoot-out, St. Lucia’s goalkeeper Thaddeus Francis came up big as he made two saves, one of which gave St. Lucia victory. Francis’ first save came off Grenada’s fourth penalty, by Lancaster Joseph, and the second and crucial save that got the win came in the sixth and sudden-victory round off Shannon Phillip after a 3-3 tied at the end of the allotted five penalties. After the game, Francis, another of St. Lucia’s imports, in his second stint here, said that he was confident of making saves, “because this is what I do best.”
Grenadian Captain Mark Marshall, among seven imported players for Grenada, said that his team failed because of the lack of cohesion between the local and the imported players. Marshall, in his second Caribbean Cup appearance, was not proud of his team’s finishing.
St. Lucia’s winning penalty in the sixth round came from Germal Valcin, while Trevor Daniel, Levi Gilbert and Williams also scored for the winners. Henson Cuffy, Nickel Paul and Marshall scored for Grenada.
In the other quarterfinal match-up, a better organized Guyana team topped St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Led by an early goal from Travis Grant (10th minute) and two late strikes from Rishawan Sandiford and Gregory Richardson, Guyana played with more urgency. The Guyanese defended well as a team and double and triple teamed the Vincentians, who had no answer for the Guyana blitz.
St. Vincent got its chances, but poor finishing plagued the Vincentians. Michael Collis had the best scoring opportunity to pull St. Vincent level at 1-1 just before the halftime whistle when he steered the ball, from a cross, wide of an open net from less than six yards. St. Vincent and the Grenadines played a player short for most of the second half after defender Kemmie Christopher was red carded for throwing an elbow in a play.
In next Sunday’s quarterfinals, Haiti takes on St. Kitts and Jamaica battles Panama. The first game kicks off at 3:00 p.m.
RED BULLS FALL
The New York Red Bulls (11-8-5, 38 pts.) first-place standings in the MLS Eastern conference standings was short-lived as the New Yorkers lost, 2-0, at the Columbus Crew last Saturday night and slipped to second behind Sporting Kansas City (11-7-6, 39). Missing captain Thierry Henry, midfielders Tim Cahill and Lloyd Sam and defender Kosuke Kimura; the team was also without coach Mike Petke, who was suspended for the game after getting a red card versus Sporting Kansas City over a week ago. New York was missing much of its offensive power as it created very few scoring opportunities. Jonny Steele’s shot that hit the post in the 59th minute and Fabio Espindola’s header in the 70th minute and Jonny Steel shot that
Columbus produced more chances and registered goals by Federico Higuain (62nd and 76th minutes). Higuain’s first goal came from a controversial call. Referee Allen Chapman called out New York for committing a foul in a crowded goal area after a free kick. Higuain’s second goal came when he ran onto a pass and chipped the ball over the Red Bulls goal keeper Luis Robles, who was caught well off his goal line. New York hosts Philadelphia on Saturday at 8:00 p.m.
In other MLS games last weekend, Real Salt Lake (12-7-5) defeated the Houston Dynamo, 1-0, when Costa Rican international Alvaro Saborio (37th) scored a penalty kick. It was Saborio’s fifth goal in his last three games, while U.S. national goal keeper Nick Rimando got his seventh shut-out of the season. Seattle Sounders (10-7-4) overcame Toronto FC, 2-1, behind goal from Mauro Rosales; Seattle also benefitted from a Toronto (4-11-8) own goal by Doneil Henry.
The Vancouver Whitecaps (10-7-6) topped the San Jose Earthquakes (8-10-6), 2-0, on goals by Camilo Sanvezzo and Kenny Miller. Philadelphia Union (10-7-7) knocked off DC United, 2-0, as Casey Conor (35th, 75th ) notched two goals. The Chicago Fire (9-9-4) beat Montreal Impact (10-7-5), 2-1, when Joel Lindpere and Dilly Duka tallied; the Impact’s goal came from Felipe Martins (57th). Sporting Kansas City set back the New England Revolution (8-9-6), 3-0; Kai Kamara scored twice and Benny Feilhaber once as well to carry Sporting Kansas City.