New York, NY - Whether it's acknowledged or not, soccer has quietly evolved in Puerto Rico for the past few years. While Puerto Rico's Triple B's—baseball, basketball and boxing—remain the island's most popular sports, soccer has become part of the ever-evolving Puerto Rican culture.
Currently ranked No.144 in the FIFA World Ranking, Puerto Rico has never qualified for the World Cup in their 71-year history. Unbeknownst to many soccer fans, the Puerto Rico Football Federation and their national team was founded in 1940. Their first opponent was Cuba and they battled to a 1-1 draw.
With the recent success of the Puerto Rico Islanders in the North American Soccer League (NASL) and the CONCACAF Champions League, many of their supporters believe that it's a matter of time when Puerto Rico will qualify for the World Cup.
On Friday night, the Puerto Rico National Football Team opened their first Group D stage match of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying on Friday when they battled St. Kitts & Nevis to a scoreless draw at the Warner Park Stadium in Basseterre, St. Kitts in the West Indies.
Coached by former Costa Rican soccer player Jeaustin Campos, Puerto Rico also recognized as the Blue Hurricane/ELHuracan Azul fielded GK Terrence Boss (Seattle Sounders), DF Richard Martinez (PR Islanders), DF John Krause (Carolina RailHawks), DF Scott Horta (Free Agent), DF Christian Arrieta (Fort Lauderdale Strikers), MF Andres Perez (Sevilla FC Puerto Rico), MF Peter Villegas (PR Islanders), MF Noah Delgado (PR Islanders), DF Alexis Rivera (PR Islanders), and F Christopher Megaloudis (FC New York).
After earning an important tie and a point in Group D, Puerto Rico will face Canada on Tuesday, Sept. 6 at the Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium at 7:30 p.m. EST. Knowing that seven members of the roster play for the Puerto Rico Islanders, it's a fantastic possibility that Puerto Rico will defeat Canada on Tuesday night because they have yet to lose a match at home all season.
Considered by FIFA.com as the Dark Horses of their Group, Puerto Rico is joined by Canada, St. Lucia, St. Kitts & Nevis in Group D. They're all fighting for the opportunity to advance further in the World Cup qualifiers in their quest of advancing to the FIFA 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The journey to the FIFA 2014 World Cup is a long journey and hopefully Puerto Rico will win enough games to be part of it. Even if they didn't, many teams in CONCACAF are beginning to recognize the Island's Soccer potential.
Other CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying Matches from Friday Night
Haiti won 6-0 over U.S. Virgin Islands 0 & Suriname won 1-0 over the Cayman Islands.
Dominica lost 2-0 to Nicaragua & Antigua & Barbuda won 5-2 over Curacao.
Guyana won 2-0 over Barbados & El Salvador edged the Dominican Republic 3-2.
Guatemala won 4-0 over St. Vincent & Grenadines & Belize won 3-1 over Grenada.
Trinidad & Tobago won 1-0 over Bermuda & Canada won 4-1 over St. Lucia.
Cesar Diaz covers Soccer for LatinoSports.com. He also writes for 5 Points Press & USSoccerPlayers.com ; your source for American Soccer news brought to you by members of the U.S. National Team. Easily accessible, you may reach Cesar at firstname.lastname@example.org and at Twitter at @CoveringSoccer.