by JAKE NUTTING
Supporters of Puerto Rico FC will have to wait another year to see the team get another shot at qualifying for the CONCACAF Champions League.
The North American Soccer League team closed out the group stage of the CFU Championship over the weekend with a commanding 4-0 win over the Cayman Islands’ Premier League champion Scholars International, but the victory was not enough to carry the club to the final round of the tournament and a chance to reach the Champions League.
Puerto Rico’s started the tournament on the right foot last Tuesday with a 1-0 win over Transvaal of Suriname thanks to a penalty strike from the team’s leading scorer in the NASL last year, Hector Ramos. Two days later, the team looked destined to grab a hard-fought scoreless draw against Portmore United until midfielder Ricardo Morris nabbed a goal for the Jamaican team in the dying minutes of the match.
Portmore locked up the group on Saturday before Puerto Rico took the field for its final match. Portmore pummeled Transvaal, 6-1, to finish the group stage with three wins. Puerto Rico still managed to finish on a positive note later in the day with a shutout, and goals from Ramos, Sydney Rivera, Cristiano Dias and Brian Bement.
Having finished on top of their groups, Portmore, Racing des Gonaïves (Haiti), Cibao (Dominican Republic), Grenades (Antigua and Barbuda) and San Juan Jabloteh (Trinidad and Tobago) move on to join the two-time defending CFU Champion Central. After receiving a bye for the group stage, Central will host the final round in Trinidad and Tobago. Of the six teams in the final round, only the top four will earn spots in the 2017-18 CCL.
Puerto Rico will turn around quickly and open up its NASL Spring Season at home on Saturdayagainst the New York Cosmos.