The Puerto Rico Islanders play their first match at the newly renovated Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium against rivals Fort Lauderdale Strikers on Saturday night. This past Wednesday, reigning World Cup and European Champions Spain participated in the stadium’s first match following renovation, defeating the Puerto Rico national football team by a score of 2-1.
Several Islanders’ players featured for the Puerto Rico national team that night, a side composed of 15 current and former North American Soccer League players. As a result, many key players missed the Islanders’ match in Edmonton at the weekend. For the fourth time in the last five away games, the understrength Islanders failed to pick up a single point, leaving Edmonton with a 1-0 defeat. The national team players return in time for the match against the Strikers, as does midfielder Jarad vanSchaik who missed the match in Edmonton due to yellow card accumulation.
For Fort Lauderdale, the team continued its home dominance over the Carolina RailHawks with a 1-0 win, climbing to fourth in the standings. Andy Herron scored the game’s only goal—and picked up Offensive Player of the Week recognition—but was involved in an altercation that lead to a two-match ban decided by the North American Soccer League’s disciplinary committee. The Strikers suffered a further blow when playmaker Walter Restrepo was ruled out for the remainder of the season after suffering an ACL injury in a training match.
The last time the teams met, the Islanders defeated Fort Lauderdale in convincing fashion, wining 2-0 at home. The prior meeting, at Lockhart Stadium, rookie Aly Hassan single-handedly guided the Strikers to a 3-2 victory with his first three professional goals, including a match-winner in the 85th minute.
Puerto Rico sits comfortably in third place, a point behind Tampa Bay Rowdies and five behind league-leaders San Antonio Scorpions. The Strikers are four points behind the Islanders in fourth, though the team has played a game more. At home, the Islanders have lost just once in the last two seasons, a 2-0 defeat to the San Antonio Scorpions in June. The challenge couldn’t be tougher for the Strikers, who have won just one away match this season, though the side has beaten the Islanders on their own turf before— a 3-1 victory in the semifinal round of last season’s playoffs.
Puerto Rico Islanders vs. Fort Lauderdale Strikers
Saturday, August 18, 2012— 7:30 P.M. EDT
Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium
Bayamón, Puerto Rico
Webcast: NASL on ustream
2012 Series: Tied, 1-0-1, 3 points
2011 Series: Tied, 1-2-1, 5 points
Puerto Rico Fort Lauderdale
Head Coach Adrian Whitbread Daryl Shore
2012 Records 3rd: 10-4-7, 34 points 4th: 8-6-8, 30 points
Last Five Games L L W W L W L W L W
Goals Leader Nicholas Addlery (8) Mark Anderson (11)
Assists Leader Jonathan Faña (5) Walter Restrepo (8)
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