This Premier League tournament continues to shape up to be one of the most keenly contested ever, as it is poised to enter into the 4-game out-of-zone series, beginning with Week 6 this coming weekend. Only 2 teams from each zone will make it to the semifinal playoffs, and, like a charging peloton of cyclists, where there are many lead changes, at this stage it appears too early to say who will be the front runners when they head down the home stretch at Week 14 for the coveted playoff spots.
There were a number of surprises, and even upsets, over the weekend.
It started on Thursday night, September 20, at the Norman Broaster Stadium, where home standing San Ignacio United posted their first victory of the tournament, a 1-nil win, over pre-season favorite Police United, on an 87th minute Police own goal by Gilbert Carrillo.
On Saturday night, Verdes continued their strong showing and took over their division lead with a 3-2 victory over visiting Paradise/Freedom Fighters at the Marshalleck Stadium. Verdes got goals from Humberto Requena, Jr. (24 min), Pedro Guerra (63 min) and Emmanuel Martinez (82 min), while the Freedom Fighters replied with strikes from Robert Muschamp (70 min) and Alexander Peters (87 min).
The Norman Broaster Stadium was the site of a monster clash on Sunday between two teams who were tied in points in the standings, and they were still tied at the end. Ralph Flores gave home standing Belize Defence Force the lead with his strike at the 34th minute; but David Madrid equalized for Belmopan Bandits at the 75th minute, and it remained at 1-1 until the long whistle.
Also on Sunday, the big upset of the weekend took place down south in Placencia, where struggling R.G. City Boys United rode into the village and shocked the defending champions Placencia Assassins with a 2-1 victory. Dalton Cayetano put City Boys in front at the 29th minute, and David McCaulay, Jr. made it 2-nil with his goal at the 81st minute, before Placencia could reply with a strike from Collin Westby at the 89th minute, too little and too late; 2-1, R.G. City Boys United over Placencia Assassins, who suffered their first loss of the season.
Meanwhile, there was another big surprise outcome at the MCC yesterday, where a short-staffed but game San Felipe Barcelona went toe-to-toe with home standing division leaders F.C. Belize in an exciting match that ended in a scoreless stalemate, giving San Felipe their first point of the tournament.
And in the final Sunday match, the young Juventus squad of Orange Walk picked up their second win of the tournament after losing 3 straight, as they made Michael Whittaker’s 21st minute goal stand up through regulation, to clip visiting San Pedro Seadogs, 1-nil.
The competition will now embark on four consecutive weeks of out-of-zone encounters, before resuming the second round of competition within the respective groups. A look at the standings will show that nobody is “out of it” yet, as the competition has not even reached the half-way point. Even San Felipe Barcelona, despite their 1 point right now, are playing very good football, and if they continue, they should add a few more points before this thing is over.
Week 6 out-of-zone (OZ) schedule:
Saturday, September 29
7:30 p.m. – (OZ) Belmopan Bandits vs Paradise/Freedom Fighters – Isidoro Beaton Stadium7:30 p.m. – (OZ) San Pedro Seadogs vs Police United FC – MCC Grounds
Sunday, September 30
3:30 p.m. – (OZ) F.C. San Felipe Barcelona vs Placencia Assassins – San Felipe Football Field
4:00 p.m. – (OZ) Belize Defence Force vs Verdes FC – Norman Broaster Stadium
4:00 p.m. – (OZ) F.C. Belize vs R.G. City Boys United – MCC Grounds
4:00 p.m. – (OZ) Juventus FC vs San Ignacio United FC – Louisiana Field