[USL-1] Just eight days before they begin their Concacaf Champions League quarterfinal series, the Puerto Rico Islanders have signed Coach Colin Clarke to a three-year contract extension.
Clarke turned around the USL First Division team in 2008, leading the Islanders to the USL-1 regular-season title and third place in the Caribbean Football Union's Club Champions Cup that qualified them for the Concacaf Champions League. Puerto Rico won its preliminary-round series against Costa Rican champion Alajuela and beat Santos (Mexico) and Tauro FC (Panama) and tied Municipal (Guatemala), all champions of their respective countries, en route to a berth in the quarterfinals against Marathon of Honduras.
Last year, Clarke also took the helm of Puerto Rico's national team. The former Northern Ireland World Cup player has spent most of his coaching career in the USL -- he's also spent time in San Diego, Richmond and Virginia Beach -- though he did spent part of four seasons with MLS's FC Dallas.
"I am happy and excited to be back," said Clarke. "I am also looking forward to the new season and the challenges of continuing to build a successful franchise from the youth academy all the way to the professional team that will give the kids of Puerto Rico a club that they can be proud and aspire to be a part of. We had a great year last year and we need to build on it and be challenging for all honors every year.
The Islanders will face D.C. United Saturday in preparation for the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals against Marathon. The first leg will be played next Thursday at the Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium.
Puerto Rico has most of its team back from 2008, including Goalkeeper of the Year Bill Gaudette, Defender of the Year Cristian Arrieta and MVP Jonathan Steele.
Goalkeepers:Bill Gaudette, Justin Myers.
Defenders:Cristian Arrieta (Italy), Alexis Rivera (Puerto Rico), Daniel Ojeda (Colombia), John Krause, Scott Jones, William Yomby (Cameroon).
Midfielders:Noah Delgado (Puerto Rico), Petter Villegas (Ecuador), Jonathan Steele (Northern Ireland), Andres Cabrero (Puerto Rico), Osei Telesford (Trinidad & Tobago), James Marcelin (Haiti), Sandy Gbandi.
Forwards:Kendall Jagdeosingh (Trinidad & Tobago), Joshua Hansen, Kevin Mesa (Puerto Rico), Fabrice Noel (Haiti).