The Latinos FC recipe for success played out not just once but twice on Sunday night.
Latinos, playing against George Town, relentlessly ground through a competitive first half and scored right before the break on a close-range finish by Reynaldo Bodden. Then, after a similarly intense period in the second half, Latinos got a late-scoring blast from Jarol Smith Rizo to finally seal a 2-0 win.
The Latinos bench erupted after the second score, which developed off a corner kick. The ball bounced around in the box and came back to Smith Rizo, who drilled the ball past the George Town goalie.
“It was a good game tonight,” said coach Nahun Rodriguez. “Everybody had good concentration.”
The first half was a tight affair marked by hard tackles on both sides, and it looked like it would go to halftime with a tie score. But right before the break, winger Raul Garcia Rodriguez tore down the left side and centred a ball into the box, and Bodden ran onto it and finished accurately.
George Town had a few scoring chances in the first half, and it notably had a set piece deep in Latinos territory in the second half. But it wasn’t enough, said George Town coach Garth Anderson.
“We were kind of unlucky,” he said of the season opener. “We had some chances in the first half. It was a good game and at the end of the day, I guess they wanted it more than us. We’ve just got to build.”
Latinos was one of five teams to open the Premier League season with a victory, and coach Rodriguez said the second goal meant a lot because his team practises corner kick scenarios every week.
Smith Rizo, a rugged two-way player, was involved in several tackles on George Town attacker Dwayne Wright, and his goal put the game out of reach for George Town in the final minutes.
“I know it was a tough game. I know they’re all going to be like this,” said Saulo Castro, the president of Latinos FC. “Latinos are going to fight for all the games. The players need to get familiar with it. We’re going to improve. The next team is Bodden Town, and we’re going to prepare for that.”
Bodden Town defeated Elite by a 4-1 score at Ed Bush on Sunday night, and Alliance beat North Side 2-1 at East End. There was a women’s Premier League game at the Annex prior to the Latinos-George Town game, with Scholars beating Roma Fusion 2-0.
The season is young, said Anderson of George Town, and his team is looking forward to testing itself again soon.
“Let’s see how we go along the road,” he said. “You’ve just got to take the positives and leave the negatives out of it. Not a bad job in effort from my side today. We’ve just got to go back and regroup.”
Cayman Islands Premier League
George Town 0, Latinos 2 at the Annex
Elite 1, Bodden Town 4 at Ed Bush
North Side 1, Alliance 2 at East End
WOMEN’S: Scholars 2, Roma Fusion 0