Sports — 13 February 2019
Week 5 and no “separation” yet in the race to PLB playoffs

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Feb. 11, 2019– Week 5 has been completed in the 14-week Premier League of Belize (PLB) 2018-2019 Closing Season regular season, and all 8 teams are still very much in the race for the Top-4 playoff  spots. (See standings below.) As importantly, defending champion Bandits Sport and sub-champion Verdes FC are locked in a neck and neck race with CONCACAF implications. Tied for the regular season lead with 33 points each in the Opening Season, Verdes presently enjoys a 1 point lead, 10 to 9, over the Bandits in the Closing Season, with 9 games to go. The Concacaf Champions League berth belongs to the champion (Opening and Closing seasons) that shows the most combined regular season points between the Opening and Closing Seasons. Bandits won the Opening Season; if Verdes should win the Closing Season, then their regular season points will be compared with the Bandits’. So what we are watching right now is a regular season race between these two teams. The other 6 teams were all too far behind in regular season points in the Opening Season, so if one of them should emerge as Closing Season champion, they would still not deny the Bandits from the Concacaf outing. Verdes’ only chance at Concacaf is to garner more points than Bandits in this Closing Season; and then they have to win the championship.

There were 3 Saturday night games over the weekend, and 1 only on Sunday.

At the Ambergris Stadium on Saturday night, it was San Pedro Pirates FC with the 4-1 victory over Wagiya Sporting Club from Dangriga. Shaking the net for the Pirates were Luis Valdez (8’ & 24’), Ian Pou (56’) and Jesse Smith (90’); while emerging star striker Highking Roberts (16’) again got the only goal for Wagiya. Highking has scored all Wagiya goals in their last 3 outings, and he now leads all scorers in the tournament with 4 goals.  Meanwhile, down south in Independence, home standing Assassins Altitude FC got a goal each from Andres Orozco (15’) and Rene Leslie (56’), to clip Police United FC, 2-1. The lone Police goal was by Amin “Tacos” August, Jr. (19’). And in the clash of champion and sub-champion at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium, it was scoreless at half-time; and it was also deadlocked at 1-1 in regulation, after Jonard Castillo (62’) gave Verdes the lead from a scramble  with his back to the goal from 6 yards out, but Bandits got the equalizer ten minutes later when Humberto Requena’s shot deflected off the boot of Verdes sweeper Elroy Smith (72’ OG) and beat Verdes’ Mexican goalie Rodrigo Vasquez.

The only Sunday game was a 0-0 stalemate at the Victor Sanchez Union Field between P.G.’s Freedom Fighters FC and BDF FC.

New kid on the block

An interesting note: Present goal scoring leader Highking Roberts of Wagiya is one of only 2 players right now that have scored in 3 different games. (See Scoring Leaders list below.)  The other is Assassins scintillating midfielder, Rene Leslie, Best Young Player in the 2017-2018 Closing Season. Of note also, Highking has scored all Wagiya goals in their last 3 games – 1 against the Assassins, 2 against Police United, and 1 against the Pirates, all lost by Wagiya. Meanwhile, aside from his Week 2 hat trick against the Assassins, Bandits’ Trimayne Harris has gone scoreless in the other 4 games. The Closing Season is not halfway yet, though; a lot more football remains.

Upcoming Week 6 games:
Sunday, February 17
4:00 p.m. – Verdes FC vs Assassins Altitude FC  –  Norman Broaster Stadium
4:00 p.m. – Police United FC vs Bandits Sport  –  Isidoro Beaton Stadium
4:00 p.m. – BDF FC vs San Pedro Pirates FC  –  MCC Grounds
4:00 p.m. – Wagiya Sporting Club vs Freedom Fighters FC  –  Carl Ramos Stadium

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Deshawn Swasey

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