Reigning Jamaica Premier League champions Mount Pleasant FA and Cavalier FC have booked spots in this year’s Concacaf Caribbean Cup where they will again challenge for a berth in next year’s Concacaf Champions Cup.

By virtue of setting up a repeat of last year’s final, Mount Pleasant, hunting their second local top-flight title, and Cavalier, seeking redemption from last season’s defeat, joined three other clubs from Dominican Republic and Trinidad and Tobago as early confirmations.

This will be Mount Pleasant’s debut in the Caribbean Cup and first appearance in a Concacaf tournament, while Cavalier makes a return after an unbeaten run in the group stage, before finishing as runner-up to Suriname’s Robinhood FC. It also and earned them a debut appearance in the Concacaf Champions Cup.

From Dominican Republic, Cibao FC, will make its second appearance in the Caribbean Cup as the 2023 league champion from the Dominican Republic. Cibao has become a regular to Concacaf competitions, appearing in the 2018 Champions League and the 2020 and 2022 Concacaf League.

Based in Santiago de los Caballeros, Cibao became the first team in the history of the Dominican Republic to secure an official international title when they won the 2017 Concacaf Caribbean Club Championship.

Meanwhile, Moca FC, also out of Dominican Republic, returns for a second crack at the Caribbean Cup due to their standing in the 2023 season. Moca reached the semifinals in the previous edition and won the third-place match to qualify for the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup, making its debut earlier this year. Gustavo Ascona is the club’s all-time leader with four goals in the competition.

Trinidad and Tobago’s AC Port of Spain will make a second appearance in the Caribbean Cup. The club will be aiming to achieved new milestones by getting their first win in the tournament and, by extension, secure a first Concacaf Champions Cup participation.

The remaining clubs in the annual 10-team tournament –that crowns a Caribbean champion and determine participants from the region for the Concacaf Champions Cup –will be determined as their respective nations wrap up their domestic seasons.

A draw will be held on June 6 to divide the teams into two groups of five.

Jamaica's Cavalier and Dominican Republic's Moca FC will both have to play catch up in order to progress to the next round of the Concacaf Champions Cup, after they suffered 0-2 and 0-3 defeats to Major League Soccer (MLS) outfit FC Cincinnati and Nashville SC in their respective Round One first-leg fixtures on Thursday.

Despite a gutsy performance, Cavalier were undone by goals from Sergio Santos (45+5) and substitute Malik Pinto (87th), much to the delight of a small FC Cincinnati fan base, which outcheered their local counterparts inside Jamaica's National Stadium.

FC Cincinnati started more purposeful and controlled the tempo of the game for the most parts, as their high attacking line forced Cavalier into a defensive posture from where they tried to catch their opponents on the counter.

By virtue of their consistent press, the visitors, which boasts the likes of out-of-favour Reggae Boy Alvas Powell, were always more threatening in opening play, and it took some good glovework from Cavalier's custodian Jeadine White, as well as the crossbar, to keep them at bay.

Santos's header from close range, was kept out by a well-positioned White in the 22nd minute.

Cavalier responded immediately after, on the counter, through Orlando Russell, whose effort was parried by FC Cincinnati's goalkeeper Roman Celetano.

FC Cincinnati again went close on two occasions in quick succession, first in the 33rd where the menacing Luciano Acosta's effort from a distance was parried by White, who got down well to his right, and the second a minute later through Santos, who caught White off his line, but his right-footer came back off the crossbar.

It took some desperate defending from Richard King and Jeovanni Laing, putting their bodies on the line to deny Acosta, who got through on twice in the 38th and 45th minutes. However, just when it seemed as if Cavalier had survived the storm, Santos broke their hearts when he poked home from a Bret Halsey on the stroke of the break to put FC Cincinnati 1-0 up.

Cavalier were more assertive on the resumption as they went on the probe for the equaliser, which they should have had in the 64th minute, but Shaniel Thomas failed to finish off a tidy team build up and was later dispossessed.

With the introduction of fresh legs, FC Cincinnati again went on the attack and almost doubled the lead in the 82nd, when Pavel Bucha met Acosta's weighted corner kick on the volley, but the effort grazed the crossbar on its way out.

Pinto, who entered the field in the 84th minute, eventually found the second for FC Cincinnati in the 87th when he drove home a right-footer from an Arquimides Ordonez backheel pass, to give his team a tidy cushion heading into their home leg on Wednesday.

MOCA FC vs NASHVILLE SC

Over in Dominican Republic, Hany Mukhtar and Sam Surridge each had a goal and an assist to lead Nashville SC to a 3-0 over Moca FC at the Estadio Cibao in Santiago de los Caballeros.

Mukhtar (12th), Surridge (25th) and Tyler Boyd (75th), got the job done for Nashville, who will be aiming to wrap things up on their home turf on Wednesday.

Nashville SC could not have asked for a better start, as they broke the deadlock in the 12th minute, when star attacking midfielder Mukhtar polished off a one-two combination with Surridge by finishing past goalkeeper Pascual Ramirez.

The dynamic duo of Mukhtar and Surridge hooked up again to produce Nashville’s second in the 25th. This time it was Mukhtar, who filtered a pass for Surridge to fire past Ramirez.

Moca started to threaten toward the end of the half and forced the Nashville defence into some nervy moments, especially when a Juan Angeles shot required a reaction save from Joe Willis, in goal for Nashville.

But Nashville later regained their momentum in the second half and after several looks at goal, they inevitably added a third through Tyler Boyd, who fired home in the 75th minute.

From there, it was just a matter of seeing things out for Nashville, who ensured Moca went scoreless, and maintain a very healthy advantage going into the return leg.

 

Mount Pleasant Football Academy and Cavalier Football Club will meet in this season’s Jamaica Premier League (JPL) final, following victories over Arnett Gardens and dethroned champions Harbour View in their respective second-leg semi-final encounters at Sabina Park on Sunday.

The St Ann-based Mount Pleasant FA, which was formed in 2016 and earned promotion to the nation’s top-flight league in 2018, got by Arnett Gardens 3-1 for a 5-3 aggregate win to secure their spot in the JPL showpiece for the first time, while 2021 champions Cavalier blanked Harbour View 2-0 for a 3-0 aggregate scoreline.

Trivante Stewart with goals in the 33rd and 40th minutes, that took his tally to 18 this season, and one Shande James (86th), got the job done for Mount Pleasant, after Deandre Cunningham gave Arnett Gardens a 15th-minute lead.

Meanwhile, Collin Anderson (12th and 57th) got both goals for Cavalier against Harbour View, to regain top spot as the league’s leading scorer with 19 goals.

After playing out an entertaining 2-2 stalemate in first-leg action last week, Mount Pleasant and Arnett Gardens wasted little time to pick up from where they left off.

While the Theodore “Tappa” Whitmore-coached Mount Pleasant dominated proceedings, it was the Paul “Tegat” Davis-conditioned Arnett Gardens that drew first blood, against the run of play. 

Cunningham picked up a pass from Rushike Kelson and rifled a right-footer past Shaquan Davis in goal for Mount Pleasant.

Given the nature of the game, it was almost certain that Mount Pleasant would hit back and that they did three minutes past the half-hour mark when Stewart muscled his way past a defender to fire past Eric Edwards.

And Mount Pleasant broke the deadlock seven minutes later when Stewart with a deft first touch, created space to turn and drive a well-struck effort that gave Edwards no chance at a save. 

The momentum stuck with Mount Pleasant on the resumption, and they should have extended their lead in the 71st but Devonte Campbell, who had time and space in the 18-yard box to pick a spot, failed to finish off a good team build up.

Try as they did, Arnett Gardens had no response to the quality displayed by Mount Pleasant on the day, and almost as if throwing salt in their wounds, it was a former “Junglists” James that capped the win with a tidy finish from just inside the arc.

 Winning coach Whitmore lauded the character shown by his team in executing accordingly.

 “We were totally in control of the game; we managed the game very well the opponents scored on us but the team showed character and guts and went on to win it. We played this Arnett Gardens team four times, so we looked at their threats and we nullified that, it is just about going into the final now to deliver a title to our owner,” Whitmore said.

His counterpart Davis admitted that they were outclassed.

“They just played a better game than us and they won. We just didn’t come out and play, they were quicker to the ball, their ball movements were better, and they won,” Davis declared.

Cavalier entered their second leg contest with a 1-0 lead over Harbour View and given the defensive nature of both teams, not many goals were expected on this occasion. 

With Harbour View pressing to play catch up, Cavalier capitalized and pushed further ahead when Anderson rose above defender to head home Adrian Reid’s weighted cross. 

With the scoreline unchanged at the break, Harbour View came out more purposeful after the interval and almost pulled on back, but Vino Barclett got down well to his right, to keep out Colorado Murray’s 56th-minute effort from a distance. 

But Cavalier responded a minute late with a brisk counterattack that saw Shaneil Thomas playing Anderson through on goal, and the striker sporting the number nine jersey, dismissed his marker, before driving past Romario Palma in goal for Harbour View.

Harbour View tried to play their game in an attempt to overturn the deficit, but it was not to be as they found Cavaliers defenders in defiant mode.

Cavalier Football Club’s Head coach Rudolph Speid says his team has no intentions of resting on their laurels, after edging reigning champions Harbour View 1-0, in the first leg of their Jamaica Premier League (JPL) semi-final tie at Sabina Park on Monday.

Orlando Russell’s second goal against Harbour View and third overall this season, proved the all-important strike that handed Speid’s youthful team the advantage ahead of Sunday’s return-leg at the same venue.

“What we tried to do was not to concede any goals and take what we got and that is what happened. But I think we need one or two more goals to be safe and so we will be pushing for that in the next game,” Speid said.

After playing out a goalless first half where both teams had their moments, Cavalier found the go-ahead goal seven minutes after the interval through a well-worked build up orchestrated by Nickache Murray.

Murray floated a delicate pass over the top, which was headed across by Jerome McCleary for Orlando Russell to apply the finishing touch at the far post.

Harbour View came close to pulling level in the 62nd minute, but Cristojaye Daley’s well-struck left-footed drive from a distance, was equally well-saved by Vino Barclett, diving full-stretch to his right, in goal for Cavalier.

Cavalier could have extended their lead in the latter stages when the league’s leading scorer Collin Anderson got away from Harbour View’s defenders but fired a right-footed effort straight at goalkeeper Romario Palma, despite having enough space and time to set and shoot.

For Harbour View’s Head coach Ludlow Bernard, its back to the training pitch to assess their mistakes and make the necessary adjustments for the second leg.

“We ran out of ideas up top and so we paid the price for it. We didn’t capitalize on what was probably a tired Cavalier team, but we have some things that we clearly need to look because we are now under one-nil, so we just have to reset and come again,” Bernard stated.

Meanwhile, the second semi-final between Arnett Gardens and Mount Pleasant remain evenly poised, as they played out an entertaining 2-2 stalemate in a game that ensured the large crowd did not leave disappointed.

The inform Leonardo Rankin (17th) and Trivante Stewart (63rd), got the goals for the St Ann-based Mount Pleasant, who went in front twice, but Shai Smith (30th) and Fabian Reid (66th), ensured Arnett Gardens, remained in contention.

It was mostly end-to-end action from the start, but it was Mount Pleasant that drew first blood when Rankin deflected Demario Phillips’s weighted corner kick past Eric Edwards in goal for Arnett Gardens.

However, the “Junglists” were back on level terms 13 minutes later when Ajuma Johnson’s weighted cross found the head of the rangy Smith, who made no mistakes in guiding past Shaquan Davis.

As the score remained unchanged at the break, both teams against came out firing on the resumption, throwing their weight in attack, but again, it was Mount Pleasant that found the go-ahead goal three minutes past the hour mark.  

Stewart outsprinted two defenders before squeezing a right-footer past the advancing Edwards to register his 16th goal this season.

But the celebrations were short-lived, as Reid also registered his 16th goal of the season when he utilized a cheeky first touch to create space for a right-footed drive that had Davis well beaten.

Both teams continued to create chances and could have secured the advantage, but for a lack of composure in the final third.

Still, both Paul “Tegat” Davis of Arnett Gardens and his counterpart Theodore “Tappa” Whitmore, agreed that it was a fair result, as it is anybody’s game come Sunday.

Jamaica Premier League clubs, Cavalier FC and Waterhouse FC will be beneficiaries of the largesse of the Jamaican government, which is allocating JMD$ 2 million (approximately US$13,000) towards their participation in the CONCACAF Caribbean Club Championships.

The clubs will represent Jamaica at the championships that will be held in the Dominican Republic between May 13 and 25, 2022. Teams from Haiti and the Dominican Republic will also be participating in the tournament.

“These are challenging times for everyone but out of love for our people and sports, the Ministry gladly obliged when called on again to assist,” said Jamaica’s Minister of Gender, Culture, Entertainment and Sports Olivia Grange.

“The nation will be rooting for Cavalier and Waterhouse and we are happy that all the games will be televised live in 26 countries.”

Defending champions Cavalier got the new Jamaica Premier League season underway with a win against Arnett Gardens FC in an enthralling encounter at the UWI-JFF Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence in Kingston.

Central defender, Jamoi Topey, gave Cavalier the lead in the 60th minute before Chavany Willis got an equaliser that he thought would salvage a draw in the 96th minute.

Cavalier forward Shaniel Thomas had other ideas as he slotted home a right-footed effort in the 97th minute to secure a win and three points for the two-time champions.

The second match on Sunday was also an exciting one between four-time champions Waterhouse FC and Montego Bay United, who have also won the title four times.

Montego Bay United took the lead in the 57th minute through Giovanni Reid before Waterhouse equalised in the 72nd minute through an Andre Fletcher penalty.

Waterhouse completed the comeback in the 81st minute through a goal from Devroy Grey.  The action then shifted to Monday, January 17 with two more matches.

Dunbeholden FC and Vere United FC contested the first game with Dunbeholden securing a 2-1 victory.

They took the lead in the eighth minute through an excellent header from Atapharoy Bygrave before Lampard Neil tied things up for Vere in the 57th minute.

Substitute Jahmiel Hardware secured the three points for Dunbeholden with a well-placed free kick in the 92nd minute.

In the second match, goals from Warner Brown in the 42nd minute and Shai Smith in the 87th minute ensured that five-time winners Tivoli Gardens FC and seven-time winners Portmore United FC played out a 1-1 draw.

On Tuesday, four-time champions Harbour View FC and Molynes United FC played out a 2-2 draw thanks to double strikes from Trayvon Reid and Nicholas Nelson.

Nelson gave Molynes United the lead in the 42nd minute before Reid made it 1-1 in the 45th minute.

The 58th minute saw Nelson get his second to give Molynes United a 2-1 lead before Reid once again equalized in the 90th minute to ensure the points were shared.

In the second game on the day, goals from Daniel Green in the 14th and 43rd minutes, as well as strikes from Allan Ottey in the 17th, Ricardo Morris in the 45th, and Donovan Segree in the 90th helped Mount Pleasant FA secure the biggest win of the round, a 5-1 rout of Humble Lion FC.

Cory Hylton got Humble Lion’s consolation goal in the 83rd minute.

The second round of matches kicks off on Saturday.

 

Dunbeholden assistant coach Ricardo Smith hailed the performance of standout midfielder Nickoy Christian for a man-of-the-match performance that inspired the team to its first win of the truncated Jamaica Premier League (JPL) season at the Stadium East Complex.

Throughout the game, it was Christian who controlled the tempo, marshalled the midfield, and was the key talisman behind all Dunbeholden’s set pieces.

In truth, from the opening whistle, Dunbeholden seemed to be the team that wanted it more. The blue and red-clad team were on the attack almost immediately and it paid dividends in the 5th minute of the game.

Off the end of Christian’s corner, veteran defender Andre Dyce latched on at the back post with a side-footed effort that nestled into the net for the opener and the only goal of the game.

A delighted Smith commended Christian’s performance and lauded his leadership in driving the team to a win.

“He took the team and was leading from the front, all the training sessions leading up to today. He was the leader from the warm-up to the game, he encouraged them, he did everything hence the performance today from him,” Smith explained.

However, Smith also commended his players for sticking to the game plan and stepping up to the challenge.

“We know that we had to come here today and soak up a lot of pressure because this team [Cavalier FC] is a ball possession team. And they are youthful, they run a lot, so we expected this from them. We talked about it we watched them before and we just gave it that strategy, we sit back and catch them on the counter,” he added.

This win came on the back of the new appointment of head coach Harold Thomas after losing their first two fixtures to Portmore United and Waterhouse FC, respectively.

Having won their first game and drawing their last, Cavalier FC suffered their first defeat of the season. Though it’s still early days, Cavalier coach Rudolph Speid acknowledges that they did not play well and that it was a tough defeat.

“I can’t put my finger on any one thing, but I think the early goal kind of stunned us. We were not able to be our usual standards and then the conditions were really breezy, very difficult to control the ball.”

On the day, Cavalier lacked the creativity that JPL is accustomed to seeing from them.

The Kingston-based team playing at home for the first time this season was, however, missing their main danger man Shaniel Thomas, Speid believes it hampered their way of playing.

Dunbeholden FC now moves from the bottom of the table to eighth position, on three points, while Cavalier FC remains in fourth on four points.

 

 

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