MIAMI, Florida, Thurs. Aug. 4, 2022
Verdes FC have made history by becoming the first club from Belize to win a series in the Scotiabank Concacaf League after earning a 2-2 draw with Platense of El Salvador in the second leg of their 2022 SCL Preliminary Round series on Wednesday night at the Estadio Cuscatlan in San Salvador, El Salvador.
The result made for a 2-2 draw on aggregate, with Verdes advancing via the away goal tiebreaker to face Alianza of El Salvador in the Round of 16.
Verdes kept their cool after an early Platense charge and found the Platense defense out of sorts on a counterattack, allowing Edwin Villeda Bernal to play a ball across to Luis Ibarra, whose finish gave Verdes a 1-0 lead in the 19’.
Platense went right to work to find an equalizer, but once again Verdes landed a big blow via the counterattack and doubled their lead to 2-0 in the 38’. This time Villeda Bernal played the role of goalscorer by galloping through the Platense defense and using the outside of his right boot to beat Platense GK Jose Gonzalez.
Platense had no choice but to commit numbers forward in the second half, and after missing a header in the opening minutes, Jhon Machado was left unmarked and smacked home a header off a corner kick in the 61’ to cut the gap to 2-1.
The Platense goal opened up things at both ends, with Platense pushing hard for a second, but also leaving themselves vulnerable to another Verdes counterattack. Machado came within a whisker of finding a second score via another header in the 75’, only to be denied by the crossbar.
A second goal for Platense would come, though, on a Verdes handball in the area in the 83’, resulting in a penalty. A minute later the score was tied 2-2, as Jaime Ortiz’s penalty rolled off the fingertips of West and into net.
The penalty conversion set up a grandstand finish, with Platense needing one more goal in the final minutes to advance, but the Verdes defense held on until the final whistle to record the history-making result.
(AMANDALA Sports Ed. Note: Congratulations to Verdes FC! All Belize is proud of your accomplishment. Onward to the Round of 16! It was a nail-biter finish, indeed, with the game playing an additional 6 minutes 51 seconds of injury time.
The current Scotiabank Concacaf League has a little different competition format from the previous Concacaf Champions & Sub-Champions club tournament of 1989 when Coke Milpros FC, and then Juventus FC in the mid-1990s according to Charlie Slusher, successfully advanced past their first opponents.
Once again, Verdes started with 7 foreigners and 4 Belizeans in their lineup, and ended with 7 Belizeans and 4 foreigners finishing the game. Verdes lineup [Legend: Mexican – MEX; Colombian – COL; Argentinian – ARG; Paraguyan – PAR] – goalkeeper #27 Woodrow West; #5 MEX Waldo Jimenez Medina; #80 PAR Mario Narvaez; #24 MEX Christian Ramirez Sanchez; #99 Evral Trapp (#11 Jahron Myvette at 62’); #14 Darrel Myvett; #19 ARG Facundo Garnier (#88 Aaron Lopez at 89’); #8 COL Camilo Marquez Fajardo (#20 Eldon Reneau at 89’); #33 MEX Edwin Villeda Bernal; #25 Krisean Lopez; #9 PAR Luis Ibarra (#13 Jaylen Lennan at 90+6’). Coach–MEX David Perez. Match referee was Felix Mojica of Nicaragua.
Concacaf’s Player of the Match was “⚽ Edwin Villeda Bernal (who) scored the second away goal of the match for (Verdes) to go through to the Round of 16!”
Three players on the Verdes bench, all Belizeans, who did not see action in this game were #22 Charles Tillett, #18 Zion Ramos and #77 Desmond Wade.
Verdes FC will face Salvadoran champions Allianza FC in the Round of 16 which takes place between August 16 and 25.)