Trinidad and Tobago Pro League clubs W Connection and Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA will fight for the honour of being named the Caribbean’s best football club from 8 pm tonight in the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Championships final at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella.
The final will be a preceded by a third-place play off from 6 pm between Puerto Rico Islanders, the 2010 and 2011 CFU champs, and Antigua Barracuda.
The winner of the play-off will advance to a three-team CONCACAF group that includes England star David Beckham’s LA Galaxy and El Salvador’s Isidro Metapan. The loser will have only bittersweet memories as its tournament comes to an end.
The CFU champs will face United States’ Major League Soccer (MLS) outfit Seattle Sounders, which employs Trinidad and Tobago under-23 attacker Cordell Cato and US striker Eddie Johnson, and Honduran club, Marathon. Seattle
The runner-up is scheduled to meet top Mexican side Chivas de Guadalajara and Guatemalan team Xelaju.
The 2012 CFU Club Championship was a test of not just football ability but also managerial and financial mettle. Only 15 teams from nine associations participated—there were no clubs from Jamaica, Barbados or Cuba among others—and three clubs withdrew during the competition.
The four teams in the final group were worthy representatives, for the most part, although there was one glaring abnormality.
Barracuda has never actually played in the Caribbean.
The Antiguan team was formed, two years ago, by new CFU President and former Antigua and Barbuda FA General Secretary Gordon Derrick. However, Barracuda competes in the USL Pro Division—effectively the third tier of US soccer.
The Islanders outfit has a competitive presence in the Puerto Rican domestic league although it also plays in the US; albeit the second-tier A’ League.
The Islanders are second in the A’ League at present while Barracuda is second from bottom in the USL Pro Division.
Closer to home, W Connection is the most successful team in the revamped CFU tournament with four titles and overcame a slow start to its domestic campaign and a string of injuries and player departures to pip T&TEC FC to the Pro League title on the final day of the season.
An emphatic 4-1 semifinal win over the Islanders on Tuesday suggested that Connection continues to bloom quickly and Caledonia will be wary of Connection’s ruthless and pacy counter-attack and the clever ball movement of its experienced midfield.
“Soca Warriors” midfielder Clyde Leon was particularly impressive on Tuesday while Rennie Britto’s finishing was inspired.
Caledonia tends to fly on the wings.
Vincentian flanker Cornelius Stewart was patchy on the right flank but still created the opening goal for defender Radanfah Abu Bakr while Stewart’s replacement, Nathan Lewis, conjured up the second.
Full backs Walter Moore and Kareem “Tiny” Joseph are quick to join the attack too and should ensure that Connection’s front trio has defensive responsibilities tonight.
Caledonia striker Devorn Jorsling’s venomous left boot is likely to be the most potent force at the Mannie Ramjohn and Connection must deny him space around its penalty area if they are to secure a record fifth CFU title.
Caledonia has never won a Caribbean gong before but the “Eastern Stallions” are enjoying their most successful season to date with a hattrick of domestic knock out titles already secured including the TTFF FA Trophy and the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield.
There should be no shortage of passion in tonight’s final.