Those damn Islanders. Trailing 2-0 after the first leg of the USL First Division semifinals, you knew they'd manage to turn it around on Sunday, which they did, beating Rochester 3-0 in extra time to advance to the finals. Another great victory for a team that has seen a lot of them recently.
But all is not right on the island. The message boards (here, here and here) are alive and hopping late into the night as it turns out that Vancouver, the other semifinal winner, NOT Puerto Rico, the regular season champion, will host next weekend's final.
Reports in the Vancouver media are chalking it up to the Islanders' facility as "not meeting the criteria for hosting a final." Whatever that's supposed to mean.
Although we're still awaiting an official release from the USL, the condition of the pitch at Swangard Stadium begs the question: What is the "official criteria" for hosting the final?
I understand, Swangard was upgraded for last year's U-23 World Cup, but it's still not the greatest facility in the world. It holds much less than Puerto Rico's facility as well.
Was it security concerns that moved the final off the island? Another massive pitch invasion occured tonight in Puerto Rico, as happened two years ago when the Islanders clinched their first-ever playoff spot. Undoubtedly it would happen again if Puerto Rico hosted the final and walked away with the title.
But the Loubriel has also hosted World Cup Qualifiers, Caribbean Club Championship and CONCACAF Champions League games. Not to mention having a rail station outside the stadium making for easy access.
Whatever the case is, it looks like if things stay the way they are planned (with kickoff being moved from Saturday night to Sunday night, another mind-boggling move, meaning another week of NO DREAM TEAM), the USL could be in for a huge blunder and end up with massive egg on their face.
We'll see what happens on Monday.
Edit: That was quick. On the USL's front page, they've confirmed that Vancouver will host the final Sunday at 7 p.m. EST. Looks like they've got some explaining to do.