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Puerto Rico Islanders

Puerto Rico Islanders is a Puerto Rican professional soccer team, founded in 2003 . The team is a member of the USL First Division, the second tier of the American Soccer Pyramid.

They currently play at Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. The team is currently coached by Colin Clarke. The team's colors are orange, navy blue and white.

Club History

USISL

In 1995, a team called the Puerto Rico Islanders joined the USISL, now the United Soccer Leagues (USL), was founded by Joe Serralta and other Puerto Rican businessmen. The team played only 7 games and then Serralta decided to move the franchise to Houston, Texas on June 1, changing its name to the Houston Force, due to problems with the Puerto Rican Football Federation and bad attendance number. The Force folded after one game in Houston.

Early Years (2003-2005)

Eight year after Serralta's first attempt at professional football, he gave it another go and together with a new group of Puerto Rican businessmen officially created the current incarnation of the Puerto Rico Islanders. The team played their first A-League season, now the USL First Division, in 2004. The original squad was composed of a large number of local Puerto Rican players and a contingency of foreign players composed of Americans, Brazilians, Salvadoran and Argentinians completed this first squad, the team was coached by Brazilian Vitor Hugo Barros who was replaced several games into the season by Argentinian Hugo Hernán Maradona, brother of the legendary Diego Armando Maradona. The team played its first league game in April 17, 2004 against the Toronto Lynx at the Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium, the Islanders lost 1-0 in front of a reported 6,000 fans. The Islanders had their first victory on January 15, 2004 against the Charleston Battery with a score of 1-0 at the Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium. Led by players like Mauricio Salles, Raúl Díaz Arce and Luis Fernando Zuleta Mechura the Islanders finished the 2004 season in fourteen places with a record of 5 wins, 17 loses and 6 ties.

In 2005 the Islanders still under Hugo Hernán Maradona brought in a new group of players that would become staples in the club for the next couple of seasons (Petter Villegas, Marco Velez, Dan Kennedy, Caleb Norkus, Alejandro González Pareja and Noah Delgado),and retained several key players like Mauricio Salles. At the end of the season the Islanders had a improved season record than the 2004 season with 10 wins, 10 loses and 8 ties, this time barely missing the playoff.

2006 Season

The Islanders opened their 2006 season with a mix of new players like Argentinian Gustavo Barros-Schelotto, Chilean Arturo Norambuena, Canadian Alen Marcina, and homegrown talent Marco Vélez, Alexis Rivera, Rafael Ortiz Huertas, and American Dan Kennedy to create one of the strongest lineups in the clubs short history in a serious attempt to take the USL Div. 1 title for the first time.

Formed under the management of then head coach Jorge Alvial, the 2006 Islanders had a recod of 3-2-1 up to early June, whene Alvial put in his resignation to became a scout for the English club Chelsea. The club lumbered across the last half of the season barely making the playoffs, under the new head coach Toribio Rojas, Jorge Alvial's assistant coach. Finishing the season in 6th place and with a record of 10-8-10.

In the weekend before the 2006 playoffs the Islanders hosted Miami FC twice, who had Brazilians Romario and Zinho in their line up. The Islanders needed four points to qualify for the Playoffs. After going down 0:2 in the first half the Islanders managed to come back and win 4:2 in front of 8,600.

In the final game of the season, against Miami on September 10, 2006, attracted a record crowd of nearly 11,000 fans. A draw was sufficient for the Islanders to qualify in front of Seattle and Atlanta but early in the second half Miami took the lead. It was not until the 43rd minute of the second half that the Islanders equalized with a Arturo Norambuena penalty.

In the first round of the playoffs the team played a home-away series against the Charleston Battery. Unfortunately for the Islanders, Charleston won the series 3:2, ending the 2006 season for the Puerto Ricans.

2007 Season

The team came into the season on a high, they had just played a preseason tournament against MLS teams and achieved very successful results. They also had signed several dangerous players like Panamanian trio Victor Herrera a Panamanian international, Gustavo Avila, and Alberto Zapata, a new goalkeeper Josh Saunders, rookie Jay Needham The Force folded after one game in Houston. , plus a return of players like Marco Vélez, Petter Villegas and Noah Delgado. The squad was considered a serious contenders for the title.

After one early successes, the team took a turn for the worst. It was evident that Toribio Rojas had lost his edge and after an embarrassing 2:1 lost against bottom table Minnesota Thunder was let go from his coaching position and given the post of Youth System Director, when he left the team had a record of 1-3-3. Also attendance went down

The FO quickly found a replacement in ex-FC Dallas coach Colin Clarke, who had found himself without a job after the debacle of the Virginia Beach Mariners. He immediately establish himself as a hard and hotheaded coach. Because of the way he conducted the teams practice he was given the nickname of "El General", because he worked the team like a general would with his troops.

The rapid change was also seen on the field, first game under Clark the team beat Minnesota Thunder 2:1, just a week after it had lost against them. Clark and the Islanders turned around, even with some bad roster decisions by Clark in American Jared Montz and Jamaican Gregory Simmonds, he redeem himself by signing players like Haitian Fabrice Noel, Englishman Taiwo Atieno and bringing Willie Sims on loan from the New England Revolution. This players had a positive impact on the squad and the team ended comfortably six on the table, to spots on top of the last playoffs spot.

The Islanders went into the playoffs with an air of confidence but facing powerhouse Montreal, passing the quarterfinals seemed very difficult. After a 2:3 lost in Montreal the team came back at home with the 3:0 victory, winning the series 5:3. In the semifinals the team face the same problem but now against regular season champions Seattle Sounders the Islanders lost at home but managed to tie the series in Seattle, losing the series 4-2 in penalties.

2008 season

On June 16, 2008, Jonathan Steele was included in the USL's "All-Star Week Players" list. On June 27, 2008 the Islanders defeated the Minnesota Thunder with scores of 1-0. Two days later they won the second game of the series 3-1. The Islanders began gaining more points in the second half of June and early July, earning a total of 24 points, positioning themselves in the second position of the league's global standing. On July 18, 2008, the Islanders defeated the Carolina RailHawks, reaching the second place of the league's standings. On July 27, 2008, the team closed a road trip with a 3-2 victory against Minnesota Thunder, securing their position. On August 8, 2008, the Islanders defeated Rochester Rhinos four goals to none. This victory placed the team in the top of the league's standing for the first time in the club's history. After tying with Rochester two days later, the team shared the position with Vancouver Whitecaps. In the final stages of the tournament, the Islanders regained the first position and on September 19 they won the first Commissioner's Cup since their creation, clinching the first place in the league's regular season.

International performance

In 2006 the Islanders venture into the international stage participating in the CFU Club Championship, in hope of qualifying for the CONCACAF Champions Cup. This is possible because Puerto Rican football is governed by the Federación Puertorriqueña de Fútbol instead of the United States Soccer Federation. This first attempt at international success was the first time a team from Puerto Rico ever participated in its confederation's club competitions. The CFU Club Championship 2006 played in November saw the Islanders host Group C which included Hoppers FC (Antigua and Barbuda), W Connection (Trinidad and Tobago) and Fruta Conquerors (Guyana), the later dropped out of the tournament weeks before group play. The Islanders beat Hoppers FC 3-1 but lost to W-Connection 0-1 ending the squads first international appearance.

In October 2007 the Islanders came into the CFU Club Championship 2007 with a much stronger squad, which was relatively unchanged from the squad that made it to the semifinals of the USL First Division playoffs and it showed making it all the way to the tournaments semifinals losing out to Joe Public FC 0:1 from a late goal. The entire tournament was played in Trinidad and Tobago, the Islanders headed their group with a 2:2 tied against Harbor View FC, which later became the tournament's champions, and two victories. In this tournament the team also broke several of their on-field records, it achieved its highest score line, a 10:0 victory over Hitachi Centre SAP FC, in the same game Fabrice Noël scored the team's first ever beaver trick with a tally of four goals. This would be the last time the Islanders would play to try to qualify to this incarnation of the confederations top club tournament, since this competition format was abandoned in 2008.

CONCACAF Champions League

2008-2009

This tournament was created as a substitute for the CONCACAF Champions Cup in 2008-2009. And so the Islanders were given a chance to qualify due to the fact that the 2008 installment of the CFU Club Championship would be played after the CCL starts, three Caribbean sides would be chosen from last years CFU CC; the Champions, runner-up and the third place team. Since the third place game wasn't played during the tournament the Islanders and San Juan Jabloteh,the two teams that lost in the semifinals, played a Home-Away Series to determine who would take the last spot, which ended in a 1:0 aggregate in favor of the Islanders.

The Islanders where later matched up against regional powerhouse LD Alajuelense of Costa Rica in the prelimanary round of the CONCACAF Champions League. The first leg of the series was played on August 27, 2008 in Alajuelense home ground the Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto and in front of 900 spectator the game ended with a hard fought 1-1 draw. The second leg was played on September 3, and it took the Islanders two late goals to come from behind and win the game 2-1; with a aggregate of 3-2 the Islanders advanced to the group stage, being placed in Group D, which included Club Santos Laguna, Tauro F.C. and CSD Municipal. In the first game of this round, the team defeated Tauro F.C. by one goal, with final scores of 2:1. On September 23, the Islanders defeated Santos Laguna, 3:1. On the third game, the team tied with Municipal with two goals each.

Colours and badge

During the club's first two years (2004-2005) they played in all white and all blue kits, with no clear distinction between which was considered its home kit. In 2006 the club adopted orange, dark blue and white as their primary colors. That year they wore dark blue with thick vertical orange stripes and dark blue shorts as their home kits and orange with white thick vertical stripes and orange shorts as their away kit. In 2007 the club switch to orange with white vertical pinstripes and orange shorts as there home kits and dark blue with orange vertical stripes that curve towards the sleeve and dark blue shorts as their away kit. The current home kits is a all orange one, while the away kit is white with gray horizontal pinstripes and white shorts.

Since 2006 the club has also added a third kit which were white until 2007. In 2008 the club uses a neon green kit with two lighter neon green vertical stripes and black shorts.

History of the kit

Stadium

This incarnation of the Islanders has always played their home games at Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium in the city of Bayamón, which is located about 10 minutes from the Capital San Juan. The JRL, as its now known, was originally a baseball stadium scheduled for demolition, and in 2003 it was converted into a soccer stadium for the Islanders. It is also home to the all levels of the Puerto Rico national football team as well as the Islanders' affiliate team in the local Puerto Rico Soccer League, Sevilla FC. The Stadium has a capacity for 12,500 spectators.

Statistics and records

2008 Squad

As of Sep 25, 2008

Out on loan:

Back from loan:

Out:

Head Coaches

As of September 21, 2008. Only professional, competitive matches are counted.

Name Nat Managerial Tenure G W D L Win %
Vitor Hugo Barros April 2004–May 2004 8 0 2 6 00.00
Hugo Hernán Maradona May 2004–January 2006 48 15 12 21 31.25
Jorge Alvial January 2006–May 2006 6 3 1 2 50.00
Toribio Rojas May 2006–May 2007 33 9 11 13 27.27
Colin Clarke May 2007–Present 66 32 19 14 48.48

Notable Former Players

Name Nat Islanders Career Apps Goals
Victor Herrera 2006-2008 26 4
Gustavo Barros Schelotto 2006 23 3
Mauricio Salles 2004-2005 51 25
Dante Poli 2005 7 0
Sebastian Rozental 2005 9 2
Marco Vélez 2005-2007 86 5
Alen Marcina 2006-2007 37 16
Dan Kennedy 2005-2006 55 0
Raúl Díaz Arce 2004 15 7

Year-by-Year

Season League Pos. Pl. W D L GS GA P Playoffs CFU CONCACAF Manager
2004 USL A-League 9, Eastern 28 5 6 17 22 48 21 Did not qualify CFUCC Did not participate CCC Did not participate Vitor Hugo Barros & Hugo Maradona
2005 USL First Division 7 28 10 8 10 46 43 38 Did not qualify CFUCC Did not participate CCC Did not participate Hugo Maradona
2006 USL First Division 6 28 10 8 10 38 36 38 Quarter-Final CFUCC Group Stage CCC Did not participate Jorge Alvial & Toribio Rojas
2007 USL First Division 6 28 10 10 8 35 34 40 Semi-Final CFUCC Semi-finals CCC Did not qualify Toribio Rojas & Colin Clarke
2008 USL First Division 1 30 15 9 6 43 23 54 Final CFUCC CCC Did not qualify CCL Qualified Colin Clarke

Color:

Gold Winner
Silver Runners-Up
Bronze 3rd place (Semi-final)

Honours

League

  • Commissioner's Cup: (1)

Supporters ("La Hinchada")

El Batallón S-10 During the course of the club's three first years a group of fans banded together and formed the Hinchas Isleños Autoconvocados which after a while became known as Batallon S-10, which comes from the area where the group sits (on top of Section 10), the Islanders most hardcore supporters. The group is known as one of the loudest and energetic ultras groups in the league, present at every home game and with members from California to Spain. Its loyalty to the Islanders goes unquestioned.

BOO (Big Orange One) Another band of supporters is the "BOO" or Big Orange One (Formerly "UDP" or "Ultras de Populoso" named after the famous bear mascot of the Islanders, Populoso). The BOO are made up of a number ex-pats and locals living in San Juan. Sometimes this group numbers around 30 fans.

A feature of the BOO is that they drape the flags of the various countries they come from on the seats behind the goal. Flags such as Puerto Rico, Great Britain, England, Ireland, Scotland, Canada, Australia and others. Within their ranks is a Scottish bagpiper and St. Mirren fan who performs the fans with various tunes. The BOO members wear various European club football shirts of which Arsenal of England and Cork City of Ireland are the most prominent.

The BOO are also known for drinking large quantities of beer at matches, and for being very loud and offering funny comments to the opposition over a megaphone.

Goalkeeper Dan Kennedy was a Big Orange One favorite until his departure in early 2007.

OSU OSU stands for Orange Star Ultras, the group claims to be one of the only ultra type group in the Caribbean. They take up the corner sections of the Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium to the right of the north goal. They are one of the only groups in the United States that uses pyro in their tifos on a constant basis. The group is relatively small with around 20 registered members. The group has become well known among supporters in the league because of their flare displays.

Club Rivalries

Carolina Railhawks

In the 2007 preseason the Railhawks announced their colors as orange, navy blue and white enraging Islanders fans, but the real rivalry began after the Caleb Norkus signing controversy an ex-Islanders. Islanders are 4-0-1 against the Railhawks .

Charleston Battery

Oldest of the rivalries, it goes back to the first year the Islanders played in the A-League. Charleston was the first team the Islanders beat and since then the Islanders have rottenly beaten or tied Charleston ever since. Charleston blame the Islanders of cheating and diving in most of the encounters between the teams. They constantly chant and curse at Islanders players at their home ground, where its a tense atmosphere for the teams players. Islanders supporters call the Battery names like Blabbery, "Pistolas de Aguas" or "Nuestros Hijos", which mean Water Guns and Our Sons in Spanish.

In 2006, Charleston stopped the Islanders playoffs run giving them the one and only victory against the Islanders. In 2007, the Islanders returned the favor by tying against them in the last game of the season preventing them from taking the last playoffs spot.

Record against, 10-1-7

Native Puerto Rican players in the roster

2004 - 46.2% 12 (out of 26): Francisco Quiles (MF), Alexis Rivera Curet (DF), Rafael Ortiz Huerta (MF), Carlos Garay (MF), Álvaro Torres (DF), Jorge Rosa Crespo (DF), Ángel Mussenden (DF), Isaac Nieves Rivera (MF), Héctor Rivera (MF), Carlos Astondoa (FW), Eduardo Memendi (GK), Eligmadier Amaro (GK) 2005 - 20.8% 5 (out of 24): Marcos Vélez (DF), Alexis Rivera Curet (DF), Isaac Nieves Rivera (MF), Rafael Ortiz Huerta (DF), René Bezarés (GK) 2006 - 21.4% 6 (out of 28): Marco Vélez (DF), Alexis Rivera Curet (MF), Isaac Nieves Rivera (MF), Rafael Ortiz Huertas (DF), Carlos Juan Torres (MF) 2007 - 26.1% 6 (out of 23 as of April 13): Marco Velez (DF), Alexis Rivera Curet (MF), Rafael Ortiz Huertas (DF), Luis Arroyo (DF), Maximilano Torlacoff (GK), Carlos Juan Torres (MF)

Other teams connected with the Islanders and Academy

Sevilla FC Bayamon

Sevilla FC Bayamon is a professional club closely affiliated with the Islanders, officially they are two separate clubs with a "agreement of cooperation", which ended the two year existence of the Puerto Rico Islanders B, which was the clubs reserve squad up to that point, with the agreement most Islanders B player ended up in Sevilla Bayamon. The Islanders have also loaned Sevilla Bayamon several players as part of the same agreement. The club plays in the Puerto Rico Soccer League and also uses the Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium in Bayamon as their home grounds.

Puerto Rico Islanders C

It is the club's U-20 team that participates in the Puerto Rico Soccer League 2 Division, its goal is to develop players from PRISA with extraordinary potential so that they can eventually make the jump to either the Islanders or Sevilla Bayamon.

Academy

The Puerto Rico Islanders Soccer Academy or PRISA was founded in 2006 and its made up of U6, U8, U12, U14, U15, U17 youth teams and the Islanders C squad (U20). In 2008 the Islanders opened another a new academy in the northern city of Arecibo under the PRISA umbrella called the Arecibo Islanders Soccer Academy, which is composed from U5 to U20 teams.

Past Squads

2006 USL Division 1 Season

2005 USL Division 1 Season

2004 USL A-League Season

References

External links

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