Jonathan Frias celebrates his goal.Hughton Hector’s 72nd minute equalizer off a defensive miscue lifted W Connection to a 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls in the opening leg of a CONCACAF Champions League Preliminary Round series at Manny Ramjohn Stadium Thursday night.

The teams travelled to Giants Stadium on Wednesday for the second leg with the Red Bulls holding the advantage of two away goals.

The Red Bulls were trailing in the 40th minute off a Jonathan Frias goal when the striker made sure the ball entered the net after Hughtun Hector corner was mistakenly headed onto the goal post by Juan Pablo Angel.

Frias was lurking in the NYRB penalty area and was the first to react as he quickly tapped the ball into the back of the net to send his team into their locker room with a 1-0 lead.

However, the lead was shortlived as Ernst Obster scored the equalizer in the 48th. The Austrian who was making his debut for NYRB put a right-footed shot that deflected off Kern Cupid's arm and past W Connection goalkeeper Marvin Phillip.

El Salvadoran left-back Alfredo Pacheco turned hero to villain. His cross took a double deflection and went off the leg of lunging W Connection captain Elijah Joseph, up and over Phillip to give his team Red Bulls a 2-1 lead in the 60th.

But Pacheco's defensive gaffe led to W Connection's equalizer as the Salvadoran missed an attempted diving header. Hector pounced on the ball, firing it over the right shoulder of Red Bulls goalkeeper Danny Cepero and off the left post in the 72nd minute.

W Connection then threw everything into attack, but in the end had to settle for the 2-2 draw as it was too little too late as they paid the price for not taking advantage of the NYRB when they had the chance early in the game.

The winner of the aggregate series advances to the group stage, joining Pumas UNAM (Mexico), Comunicaciones (Guatemala) and the winner of the series between Liberia (Costa Rica) and Real Espana (Honduras) in Group D.

My Ratings.

Lets start off with the keeper Marvin Phillip. He made some brilliant saves. Both goals were deflections, one off Kern Cupid and the other of captain Elijah Joseph. None were the keeper's fault. - 7

Kern Cupid had a pretty decent game, did a simple job at the back and helped on the wing going forward as well. - 6

Renato Pereira was very solid at the center back and won every aerial ball. He even contributed on set plays and almost scored two great headers. His flaw is his lack of speed, but he made up for it with positioning and aerial strength. - 7

Elijah Joseph, another decent central defender that stayed at the back and did the simple things, however, he is another kick and hope player. Won his tackles well but kicked the ball out to no one in particular and put his own team under constant pressure as a result. NY Red Bulls won mostly everthing that came high up the field. - 6

Brazilian William Oliveira didn't have such a great game. Got beat for pace numerous times but did okay going forward. Came off because of a suspected injury. New York's Dane Richards was having a field day with Oliveira. Not the same player I saw two years ago when he was snapped up by Chicago Fire. - 4

I believe W Connection could find better players in Trinidad and Tobago to play the left wing. Brazilian Igor Santos didn't do much to even comment about. Not even a worthwhile cross from the left-wing was made, and I thought Aklie was bad. Like the attendance at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium Igor had a scanty game. - 3

Hughtun Hector's goal was superb, but reminds me of a Babel or Collin Samuel type player as he runs without any direction. His pace and workrate are excellent, but he needs to be a bit smarter with his final decision. However, he was involved in both W Connection goals, scored one and had an assist on the other. - 7

Gerard Williams was an iron in midfield. He broke up a lot of Red Bulls attacks, but what he did with the ball after, well that's another story. - 6

Clyde Leon broke up some plays in midfield, but was not too impressive with his decision making. He had a shot on goal and if it was a baseball game it would have been a home run for sure. - 5

Speaking about baseball, striker Jonathan Frias, who is from a baseball nation, the Dominican Republic,  was very impressive and had a very good workrate. Unfortunately, he came off in the second half with an injury. Hopefully he'll recover in time for the return leg as W Connection will surely need him if they are to have any chance of progressing in the tournament. - 8

Andre Toussaint, technically the best player on the W Connection side, made some intelligent passes and came back in defence to help out too. Not that they shouldn't help out, but maybe if both strikers concentrate a little more on getting the ball in the back of the net and not worry about defence to often, they might actually score more goals. - 8


19.Andrei Pacheco had to be the best of all W Connection substitution. Looked impressive and almost had a goal instantly upon his entry. - No Rating.

23.Keryn Navarro looked lively and creative but not penetrative enough to leave anything positive. - No Rating.

30.Matthew Bartholomew looked very composed on the ball and had a few good moments, but nothing spectacular. - No Rating.

My Take.

I'm not impressed with W Connection at all. Being the home team too- makes it worst. I cant understand why teams based in T&T could never stamp their authority while playing at home. They always play like the away team.

W Connection had the chance to finish off the NY Red Bulls in the first half, but allowed them the comfort to play their own game as the Red Bulls build confidence throughout the match and almost made W Connection pay in the end.

Bear in mind the NY Red Bulls (NYRB) are currently the worst team in the MLS. Though W Connection are fifth in the Pro League they played just to that status unlike Joe Public who were also fifth in the local league when they derailed New England Revolution 6-1 on aggregate in the last set of CONCACAF Championship qualifiers.

You would expect a Brazilian/Trinidad type flair of football from W Connection, but it wasn't so. Too many high balls and clueless passes. Hopefully we will see a better performance and result from W Connection next Wednesday at the Giants Stadium.

Final Score

W Connection 2—2 Red Bull New York
Jonathan Frias 40', Hughtun Hector 72' ; Ernst Oebster 48', Alfredo Pacheco 59'


Mannie Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella Trinidad.


W Connection:— 21.Marvin Phillip, 3.Kern Cupid, 4.Renato Pereira, 5.Elijah Joseph (capt), 8.Clyde Leon (Yellow), 2.William Oliveira (23.Keryn Navarro 62nd), 17.Hughtun Hector, 25.Igor Santos (19.Andrei Pacheco 65th), 41.Gerard Williams, 10.Jonathan Frias (30.Matthew Bartholomew 58th), 11.Andre Toussaint.

Coach—Stuart Charles Fevrier.
Red Bull New York:—1.Daniel Cepero, 2.Kevin Goldthwaite (Yellow), 5.Albert Celades (Yellow), 20.Ernst Oebster (11.Danleigh Borman 80th), 13.Jorge Rojas (Yellow) (8.Sinisa Ubiraparipovic 90+), 6.Seth Stammler, 12.Mike Petke, 16.Alfredo Pacheco, 17.Jeremy Hall, 19.Dane Richards, 9.Juan Pablo Angel (capt).
Coach—Juan Carlos Osorio.


Red Bulls reaction after the 2-2 1st leg draw with W Connection in T&T

Champions League W Connection v NY Red Bulls Highlights

Defensive mistakes give Red Bulls 2-2 draw with W Connection.

W Connection took the first half lead after Jonathan Fana Frias finished a near own goal by Juan Pablo Angel. Two deflected second half goals by Red Bull’s Ernst Obster and Alfredo Pacheco were wiped out by W Connection’s Hughtun Hector to leave the game in a draw.

A modest crowd came out to see the New York Red Bulls take on W Connection in Marabella, T&T on Thursday night.  The Red Bulls fielded a strong line-up, including new signing Ernst Obster.

For New York Red Bulls fans the MLS season has been over for months now and the prospect of getting through to the CONCACAF Champions League Group Stage represents the only possibility of success this season.  Perhaps more importantly, Red Bulls management would love to have exciting knock-out matches to help open their new stadium in 2010.

W Connection is returning to Champions League play after a failing to qualify last year.  Exciting Dominican Jonathan Frias and home grown Andre Toussaint lead the creative attack for the Trinidad and Tobago club.

First Half

Within the first minute the Red Bulls nearly gifted a goal to W Connection as a turnover gave Andre Toussaint possession in the final third.  However, Jonathan Fana Frias strayed offside before receiving the ball, sparing the Red Bulls blushes.

After the opening flurry both teams proceeded slowly, feeling each other out.  After 11 minutes Dane Richards gave up a dangerous free kick to W Connection near the box.  The ensuing cross was met by Brazilian defender Renato Pereira, but his header fell just wide of Danny Cepero’s goal.

In the 22nd, Jorge Rojas fired the first warning shots at the home team.  After his first long range strike was deflected out for a corner, he took a bouncing ball from the right corner and hit a dipping volley for the far post.  W Connection goalkeeper, Marvin Phillip, did well to knock the ball down and collect the rebound.

Despite New York controlling most of the possession, it was W Connection that broke the deadlock in the 40th minute after Juan Pablo Angel’s sloppy clearance from a corner deflected off the cross bar, into the ground, and off the cross bar again, before Jonathan Frias slammed the ball into the back of the net.

The goal immediately opened up the game.  Three minutes after the goal, Rojas broke a counter-attack open sending Obster down the left wing.  His cross was headed on by the W Connection defense to Dane Richards on the far post.  Richards spun around his defender and crossed back to Angel, but his header went straight to Phillip.

Second Half

It took Ernst Obster less than three minutes to equalize the score.  Dane Richards created space down the right and broke into the box.  The cross missed Angel’s near post run but found Obster, whose shot deflected down off the arm of a W Connection defender and past Marvin Phillip.

Jonathan Frias left the game in the 56th minute with a hamstring injury and the W Connection attack lost its edge settling for counter attacks for the rest of the game.

Within two minutes Dane Richards showed a flash of brilliance to leave his marker stranded.  After receiving the ball just inside the corner of the box Richards spun to his left, and cut inside his marker, Kern Cupid, who was left flat-footed as he watched Richards charge towards goal.  However, Richards lost his composure and fired the ball over the goal.

Only two minutes later New York took the lead through a bizarre deflection goal by Alfredo Pacheco.  Pacheco hit a low driven shot for the far post, but it was a sliding clearance attempt by Captain Elijah Joseph that curled the ball into the upper corner of the net, leaving Phillip stranded.

W Connection replied ten minutes later against the run of play, Hughtun Hector took full advantage of Alfredo Pacheco’s mistake.  As the ball swung across the top of the box, Pacheco mistimed his interception, leaving Hector alone at the top of the box.  He took two touches and fired a shot past Cepero, off the far post and into the near post side netting.

Another substitute, Matthew Bartholomew, nearly gave the home team the win in the 83rd. Batholomew slid in behind the center backs, where a nice chip found him alone in the box.  He held off Jeremy Hall, but the ball was cleared for a corner before he could get his shot off.

After the equalizer the Red Bulls were content to leave with a draw and two away goals.  They head home with a slim advantage, while W Connection knows they will most likely need to win without conceding.

Terence Steed is the New York correspondent for Goal.com.

Timid W Connection draw 2-2.
By: Ian Prescott (T&T Express).

W Connection gave a flat and sometimes uninspired performance before rallying through Hughtun Hector's 72nd minute goal to secure a 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls in the first leg of a CONCACAF Champions League preliminary round series at Manny Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella on Thursday night.

The result and especially the two away goals will better suit the Red Bulls when the teams meet again at Giants Stadium, New York on Wednesday for the second leg.

Two nights ago, the visitors trailed 1-0 at the break before scoring a pair of goals in the first quarter-hour of the second half to take a 2-1 lead and then began to dominate possession.

However, Hector's goal at least made sure the home team go into the second leg on a level footing. The winners of the aggregate series advance to the group stage, joining Pumas UNAM (Mexico), CSD Comunicaciones (Guatemala) and the winners of the series between Liberia (Costa Rica) and Real CD Espana (Honduras) in Group D.

W Connection certainly did not play with the confidence of a home team. A cautious, overly-defensive approach hardly seemed to serve the 2009 Caribbean champions well against a Red Bulls team lacking confidence and struggling in Major League Soccer (MLS) in the United States.

And although they were the better first half team, Connection's over cautious approach often left them attacking with too few numbers to trouble the Americans, who defended en masse behind the ball.

Andre Toussaint's timid approach in the opening seconds set the tone for W Connection's entire performance.

Given a clear look down the centre of the penalty area after a mix-up between the two central defenders, Toussaint let the Red Bulls of the hook. Instead of testing goalie Daniel Cepero, the little  striker handed off responsibility to strike partner Jonathan Frias, who was in an offside position.

W Connection's first dangerous moment came in the ninth minute when Hector's cross screwed off the bald head of Brazilian centre-back Renato Pereira and went wide. Soon after, another Brazilian, Igor Santos lifted his shot over from the centre of the penalty box after being set up by Frias' meandering run across the box. 

Still, the "Savonetta Boys" went ahead in the 39th when Frias crashed the back post and forced in Hector's corner-kick which former Aston Villa striker Juan Pablo Angel headed onto his own crossbar.

The Red Bulls looked most potent through speedy Jamaican right winger Dane Richards who several times eluded Brazilian left-back William Oliviera. But their first chance came when Jorge Rojas shot towards the far corner and brought off a good save from W Connection goalie Marvin Phillip, who gathered the ball on the second attempt. And later, Angel headed over the visitor's best chance in the 43rd minute.

Emboldened by the comfort the home team afforded, the Americans went more into attack after the break and were able to score twice, both very soft goals.

The first saw keeper Phillip, blinded by defender Kern Cupid, allowing in a meek shot from Austrian Ernst Obster to level the scores at 1-1 in the 48th minute.

And it got worse in the 59th when central defender Elijah Josph stretched a leg to cut out Alfredo Pacheco's cross and instead looped the ball over goalie Phillip.

But W Connection also benefitted from a defensive error when El Salvador's Pacheco missed an attempted diving header, allowing the ball to fall to Hector, who hit a one-time bullet to the far post for the72nd minute equaliser.

Frias, the liveliest W Connection man on the field, was earlier taken off injured and replaced by Matthew Bartholomew, who lifted a shot over the Red Bulls bar from close-up in the later stages. And as W Connection finally put some intensity into their play, another sub, Andrei Pacheco also forced a first post save from Cepero with a hard, low shot from an acute angle.

Hector's goal at least ensured that at the halfway stage of the tie, W Connection still have a great chance of moving past the preliminary round. But they will only advance if they quickly re-discover the flowing, counter-attacking football they regularly play.