Jamaica now has another man under 1:46.00 in the 800m in the form of Clemson senior Tarees Rhoden.

Rhoden ran a personal best 1:45.97 to claim gold at the ACC Outdoor Championships in Atlanta, Georgia on Saturday.

Wake Forest junior Rynard Swanepoel ran 1:46.69 for second while Virginia senior Shane Cohen ran 1:46.89 in third.

The 23-year-old former Kingston College standout, who was eighth in the final last season, entered Saturday’s race with a personal best of 1:46.20 done last April.

Clemson also took gold in the women's 100m hurdles through Jamaican sophomore Oneka Wilson who ran a brilliant personal best 12.87 to win ahead of Florida State's Alexandra Webster (13.04) and Duke's Skyla Wilson (13.26).

Wilson's previous personal best 13.00 was done on Friday in the prelims.

With the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) now back to regular proceedings, former Soca Warriors goalkeeper Shaka Hislop is optimistic that it will bring with it good fortunes that will see the twin island republic qualifying for another FIFA Men’s World Cup.

Hislop’s sentiments came during an endorsement of recently-elected TTFA president Kieron Edwards, who he believes is best suited to steer the country’s football and finances back on track, as he foresees a bright future for football.

In fact, Hislop, who was Trinidad and Tobago’s custodian at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, expressed delight that the association is no longer under the thumb of the Normalisation Committee, which was installed by FIFA in 2020.

The Normalisation Committee had a mandate to manage the daily affairs of the TTFA, establish a repayment plan for the debt-riddled organisation, review and amend its statutes –and other regulations, where necessary – and ensure compliance with the statutes and rules of the world governing football body.

“I was very critical of the Normalisation process, and I remain so. I felt our football needed to be in our hands. We needed to chart our own path and answer to our own stakeholders. And now with President Edwards in place, we have that,” Hislop said during Grenada’s 100 Years in Football Legends Match in the Spice Isle recently.

“We have that opportunity again to do that. It’s a big opportunity for us to maybe try to rediscover a lot of our game, and our football, and what it means to us. Both in terms of our performances on the park and in terms of how we provide those opportunities and platforms that I did, and I was able to enjoy when I was a kid coming through,” he added.

Having benefitted immensely from a decorated career with the Soca Warriors, Hislop is now hoping to return the favour by assisting aspiring players to chart the course towards a successful career of their own.

“T&T as a country, T&T football as a sport, has given me an awful lot, more than I could ever repay for, and more than I think many people recognize. And that will always be my focus, how can I support young men and women who are trying to find their way in the sport,” he declared.

That said, Hislop pointed out that the chances of Trinidad and Tobago making another appearance at the global showpiece remains highly possible, but it will require the right mentality and financial backing to achieve the feat.

Trinidad and Tobago enjoyed a fairly successful 2023 Concacaf Nations League campaign in which they made the quarterfinals and secured an historic win over United States.

Angus Eve’s side missed out on Copa America qualification, but they have a grand opportunity to possibly secure a spot at the 2026 World Cup, especially with the confederation’s powerhouse teams –Mexico, United States and Canada –securing automatic qualification as hosts, and as such, will be absent from the upcoming qualifiers.

“If they stick with it, if they are given the right tools, if they’re given the right coaching, provided the right mentors and the right opportunities, I’m sure the game will give back to them in an enriching way as it did to me,” said Hislop.

“My dying dream is to see T&T qualify for a World Cup so I can go there as a fan. I was to go and experience T&T playing in a World Cup, purely as a fan. I’m hopeful that I’ll see that,” he ended.

Jamaica’s Romelda Aiken-George, Shamera Sterling-Humphrey and Latanya Wilson continued winning ways in the Suncorp Super Netball League, as their Adelaide Thunderbirds team downed Melbourne Mavericks 59-37 in a lopsided affair at the John Cain Arena, on Saturday.

Aiken-George again led the way with 32 goals from 34 attempts, with support from Lucy Austin, who had 14 goals from 16 attempts, and Lauren Frew (nine goals from 13 attempts), while Georgie Horjus scored the other four goals from six attempts.

Another Jamaican Shimona Jok topscored for the Mavericks with 16 goals from 19 attempts, while Gabrielle Sinclair had 16 goals from 14 attempts, including five two-point Super shots, and Natalie Butler had five goals from seven attempts.

It was another clinical performance by the Thunderbirds, who produced four strong quarters to bring the Mavericks down to earth from the high of their historic win last week. Both teams were shaky at the start, before the Thunderbirds settled with three goals in a row.

From there, it was end-to-end action until the Thunderbirds regained the ascendancy thanks to crucial intercepts by Wilson on the Mavericks centre pass, which allowed her team to open a five-goal lead at 16-11 to end the first quarter.

The back-and-forth of possession between the two teams continued in the second quarter, but the Thunderbirds remained in control and opened a 10-goal lead at one point, which forced the Mavericks to go for the two-point Super shots. However, stellar defending from Sterling-Humphrey and company ensured the Thunderbirds maintained control at 32-18 at the half-time break.

Jamaica's Latanya Wilson of Adelaide Thunderbirds rise highest to win possession.

The one-way traffic continued in favour of the Thunderbirds on the resumption, as Mavericks struggled to penetrate their shooting circle, while the speed and connection between Laura Scherian and Aiken-George made life difficult for the opponents defence.

At the end of it all, the Thunderbirds increased their advantage to 20-goals, as they wrapped up the third quarter at 47-27.

The Mavericks produced their strongest showing of the game in the final quarter, as they looked stronger and more connected, but it was a case of too little too late just too late for Jok and company, who succumbed to a 22-goal defeat.

Meanwhile, another Jamaican Jodi-Ann Ward and her GIANTS team got their first points of the campaign on the board following a nail-biting 86-80 extra-time win over Sunshine Coast Lightning, at the Ken Rosewall Arena.

Sophie Dwyer (39 goals from 38 attempts) and Jo Harten (35 goals from 35 attempts) were in good knick on the day for GIANTS, who had their other goals from Matisse Letherbarrow (12 goals from 12 attempts), the game-changer during extra-time.

Cara Koenen led the Lightning with 45 goals from 47 attempts, with support from Reilley Batcheldor (17 goals from 20 attempts) and Steph Fretwell (18 goals from 23 attempts).

It was a contest filled with twists and turns as both sides traded blows in the opening minutes. Yet, amidst the tit-for-tat scoring, it was the GIANTS that exuded confidence, demonstrating rapid ball movement and unyielding defensive intensity courtesy of Chelsea Pitman and Ward, who disrupted Lightning’s play from their centre pass.

Jamaican Jodi-Ann Ward embraces a GIANTS teammate after their first win of the season.

Ward was a bundle of energy for the GIANTS, working overtime in defence to support the team on both sides of the ball, but the teams ended the first quarter locked at 17-17.

Jo Harten and Sophie Dwyer turned it on in the Power Five time, executing an important Super Shot each. Yet, it was Steph Fretwell's clutch conversion that leveled the scores as the teams approached the first change.

The second quarter intensified in physicality as the Lightning aimed to maintain their momentum from the opening quarter. However, a pivotal turnover by Pitman allowed GIANTS to surge ahead to a five-goal lead before the onset of the Power Five period.

But the Lightning’s superb center pass conversion rate and execution in the circle led by Koenen saw them rally, but the GIANTS held a one-goal lead 37-36 at half-time.

The GIANTS kicked off the third quarter with gusto, extending their lead by four goals within the opening minutes. Harten asserted her dominance on the game, dazzling with a series of spectacular goals to ignite the GIANTS' momentum.

Still the Lightning were resolute and kept pace with their rivals to remain one goal behind at 55-54 and set up a stirring final quarter battle which eventually ended at 71-71 to send the game into extra-time.

Letherbarrow was summoned from the bench, and she delivered a relentless barrage of Super Shots, ultimately spearheading the GIANTS' comeback victory over the Lightning, who lacked composure in the latter stages of the game.

The outstanding display of sportsmanship by 12-year-old St John’s Primary student Perez Pearson at Wednesday’s grand final of the Central Championships under the umbrella of the 42nd staging of the Devon Biscuits/Institute of Sports (INSPORTS) All-Island Primary Schools Athletics Championships, has been commended by his coach Jermaine Miller. 

Pearson finished tied for first place Male Overall Champion with Ricardo Granville of Naggo Head Primary. 

“Perez is a multi-faceted student and he always had other areas to give of his time. However, his time management and the support he has at home, is really top notch and that has helped him to create the necessary balance that needed to succeed,” Miller said in a media release. 

Pearson, who is also the head boy at his school, won first place in the long jump as well as in the Boys 9-13 800 Sprint Medley Open finals. 

Said Miller, “I am extremely happy and proud of his execution in all his events. His performance, especially in the long jump showed he has good composure under pressure as well, as it displayed his competitive nature.” 

Miller has been Pearson’s coach for the past two years. He believes the young athlete can excel at the high school level. 

“For sure, he will continue track and field going into high school. He is a brilliant youngster academically and he has high ambitions of becoming a pilot. So, I’m hopeful that he will continue in the sport after high school. If he does, I am confident that he will reach the national and international level and do well at whatever he does,” Miller disclosed. 

According to Pearson’s mother Tamara Woodhouse he lost his father at the age of five. She said the elder Pearson had wanted his son to do well in academics and sports. 

“If his father was alive, he would have been so proud of him. He always wanted him to do anything in sports and academics while being involved in school activities. I have been supportive of his sporting activities, I’m always at his track meets, and every event that he takes part in. I also make sure he has his gears,” said Woodhouse. 

Woodhouse, who resides in Willowdene in Spanish Town, said she is ecstatic about her son’s achievements. 

“It was a good performance. I was excited, overjoyed and nervous at the same time whenever he ran,” she said. 

She shared that his interest in sports started in the third grade. 

“I think he was in the third grade when he began to take it seriously, but it wasn’t until he was in grade five that he started to run. This is his second year participating in the Central champs. Last year, someone ran past him at the finishing line, and he said he would never let that happen to him again.” 

Sherene Bryan, brand manager for title sponsor Devon Biscuits, said that Pearson’s achievements augurs well for the brand and what it represents. 

“It was an easy decision for us to come on board. We recognize the importance of supporting, fostering and encouraging the young athletes of tomorrow. They are the future. It starts right here, these are the stars of the future,” said Bryan.

 

Defending champion Corinaldi Avenue Primary of St James raced to a 13-point lead on the penultimate day of the INSPORTs/Devon Biscuits Primary Schools Western Athletics Championships on Friday.

After 11 finals, Corinaldi surged to 86.5 points ahead of Black River Primary of St Elizabeth on 73.5 and Howard Cooke Primary of St James sitting in third spot on 54 points. Brompton Primary of St Elizabeth are fourth with 50 points while Glen Stuart Primary completed the top five on 48 points.

The records continued to tumble but the star of the day was Santana Brown of Brompton who won two events the Girls Cricketball Open with 42.04m and returned later to capture the high jump with a record leap of 1.37m.

Her teammate Keneek Grove won the Boys’ Cricket ball Open with a record 64.67m ahead of Corinaldi’s Al-Jay Levy with 63.50m.

Brompton won three events and took an early while Howard Cooke won three relays all in record fashion. In fact, seven of the eight relay records were broken.  

Howard Cooke won the Girls’ Class Four 4x100 in 1:02.49 and the Girls’ Class Two in 54.75, both in record fashion. They also won Boys’ Class One in 52.85 just outside the record of 52.19 held by Barracks Road since 2023.

Corinaldi Avenue won two relays in record style, the Boys’ Class Four in a record 58.05 and the Boys’ Class Three in 55.35.

Glen Stuart also won two relays in record fashion capturing the Girls’ Class Three 4x100 in 58.29 and the Boys’ Class Two in 55.25. Barracks Road Primary won the Girls Class One in a record 53.55.

There will be 29 finals tomorrow as teams fight to book their spots in the all-island finals dubbed the Nationals on May 20-22. Lyssons of St Thomas won the Eastern Championship and Naggo Head of St Catherine won the Central Championship.

The National champion will walk away with $600,000. Lyssons are the defending champions.

The Professional Football Jamaica Limited (PFJL) has collaborated with Malta to introduce the Elite Under-17 Development Football Programme, a junior-level training initiative offering opportunities for young talents to further ignite passion for the sport and channel true Jamaican energy.

Targeting youths under seventeen years of age, this programme aims to provide a pathway for young players to progress into local, international or regional clubs and academies. The announcement was made on Wednesday, May 8, during the official media launch at the JFF Captain Horace Burrell Center of Excellence at The University of the West Indies. 

In his remarks, CEO of the PFJL, Owen Hill, expressed, “We are excited about the Elite Under-17 Development Football Programme prospects and look forward to developing our local talent and, by extension, allowing the players to be globally adaptable. To our partner Malta, we salute you for stepping up to the plate, believing in us and most importantly, believing in our youth. The team at Professional Football Jamaica Limited promises you that we will make this programme worth your while. On behalf of the PFJL board of directors and management, I thank you for being here and for your continued support as we continue to raise the bar.” 

Through this programme, clubs will have the opportunity to participate using their best junior players between the ages of 15 to 17 and will involve four Premier League Clubs:  Arnett Gardens, Waterhouse, Portmore United, and Harbour View.

PFJL, in collaboration with these clubs, will administer three football festivals where teams will compete in an equitable format to determine the champions on the day. The games will follow traditional football competition rules and will be hosted over three consecutive months, starting on May 25 and ending on July 27, where the teams will compete against each other. 

The Elite Under-17 Development Football Programme aims to take a multifaceted approach by not only developing the technical skills and abilities of Jamaica’s youth footballers but also strengthen the local capacity for elite youth coaches through mandatory coaching education and football education. Coaches are required to be enrolled in a B Licensed Programme or higher to ensure that players are trained effectively. Moreover, individual clubs and player development plans will be implemented with structured coaching education. 

"We are happy to partner with Professional Football Jamaica Limited for the launch of the Elite Under-17 Development Football Programme, which is a part of our pilot programme, Malta Sparks. Through this campaign, we aim to bring local caregivers together, energise them, celebrate with them, strengthen their bonds within the community, and foster a profound sense of belonging. In collaboration with PFJL, we have a lineup of impactful workshops led by experts to equip players and their parents/guardians with the essential tools to improve their personal and social development skills. We look forward to the success stories and opportunities that will unfold for the talented young footballers participating in the Elite Under-17 Development Football Programme,” expressed Malta Brand Manager, Jodi-Ann Campbell.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) has announced an action-packed schedule for the West Indies Men, featuring three international home tours against South Africa, England and Bangladesh, from May to December 2024.

The home tours begin with a visit from South Africa, for three (3) T20 Internationals (T20Is) at Sabina Park, prior to the start of ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.  The Proteas then return to the region, after the West Indies Test Tour to England in July, with a two (2) Test Match Series to be played in Trinidad and Guyana, followed by a second three (3) match T20I Series at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Trinidad, ahead of the Republic Bank Caribbean Premier League (CPL).

Following a white ball tour away to Sri Lanka in October, the West Indies will welcome England to the Caribbean for a white-ball tour consisting of three (3) CG United One Day Internationals (ODIs) and five (5) T20Is.  The series will be played across Antigua, Barbados and Saint Lucia with travel packages on sale from today from CWI’s Official Tour Operators.

Bangladesh then completes the action-packed year with an all-format tour before Christmas with two (2) Test Matches in Antigua and Jamaica, three (3) CG United ODIs in St. Kitts and three (3) T20Is in Saint Vincent.

CWI Chief Executive, Johnny Grave urge fans to rally around the West Indies team for the upcoming ICC Men's T20 World Cup, as well as for the three home series.

“West Indies will welcome South Africa, England and Bangladesh to eight of our host countries in the West Indies, including Saint Vincent for the first time since 2012. With significant improvements being made to the National Stadium in Grenada and Windsor Park in Dominica we were unable to host International cricket there this year, but we are already looking forward to returning to both venues in 2025," Grave said

"Fans can purchase tickets online from Friday for the first Series against South Africa in Jamaica and with our official travel partners for the England Tour later this year, with all other tickets expected to go on sale in July after the ICC Men’s T20 World. We urge fans to rally behind our Men in Maroon as we strive for a historic third T20 World Cup title and seek to secure all important points in the ICC World Test Championship," he added.

Full Schedule

South Africa Tour

May 23 – 1st T20I @ Sabina Park, Jamaica – 3 pm (Eastern Caribbean time)

May 25 – 2nd T20I @ Sabina Park, Jamaica – 3 pm 

May 26 – 3rd T20I @ Sabina Park, Jamaica – 3 pm

July 31-August 4 – Four-Day warm-up @ Brian Lara Stadium, Trinidad – 10 am 

August 7-11 – 1st Test @ Queen’s Park Oval, Trinidad – 10 am

August 15-19 – 2nd Test Match @ Guyana National Stadium – 10 am

August 23 – 1st T20I @ Brian Lara Stadium, Trinidad – 3 pm

August 25 – 2nd T20I @ Brian Lara Stadium, Trinidad – 3 pm

August 27 – 3rd T20I @ Brian Lara Stadium, Trinidad – 3 pm

England Tour

October 31 – 1st ODI @ Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium, Antigua – 2 pm

November 2 – 2nd ODI @ Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium, Antigua – 9.30 am 

November 6 – 3rd ODI @ Kensington Oval, Barbados – 2 pm

November 9 – 1st T20I @ Kensington Oval, Barbados – 4 pm

November 10 – 2nd T20I @ Kensington Oval, Barbados – 4 pm

November 14 – 3rd T20I @ Daren Sammy Cricket Ground, St Lucia – 4 pm

November 16 – 4th T20I @ Daren Sammy Cricket Ground, St Lucia – 4 pm

November 17 – 5th T20I @ Daren Sammy Cricket Ground, St Lucia – 4 pm

Bangladesh Tour 

November 15-18 – Four-Day warm-up @ Coolidge Cricket Ground, Antigua – 10 am

November 22-26 – 1st Test @ Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium, Antigua – 10 am 

November 30-December 4 – 2nd Test @ Sabina Park, Jamaica – 11 am (ECT)

December 8 – 1st ODI @ Warner Park, St. Kitts – 9.30 am

December 10 – 2nd ODI @ Warner Park, St. Kitts 9.30 am 

December 12 – 3rd ODI @ Warner Park, St. Kitts – 9.30am

December 15 – 1st T20I @ Arnos Vale, St Vincent – 8 pm

December 17 – 2nd T20I @ Arnos Vale, St Vincent – 8 pm

December 19 – 3rd T20I @ Arnos Vale, St Vincent – 8 pm

 

Brianna Lyston secured a chance at the sprint double at the SEC Outdoor Championships in Gainesville, Florida after booking her spot in the final of the women’s 100m.

The LSU sophomore, who ran 22.31 on Thursday to secure her spot in the 200m final, came back a day later to run 11.09 to be the joint-fastest qualifier for Saturday’s final alongside collegiate leader Jacious Sears of Tennessee.

Bahamian Florida junior Wanya McCoy and Jamaican Georgia freshman Jehlani Gordon advanced to the men’s 100m final as the second and ninth fastest qualifiers with 10.09 and 10.17, respectively.

The women’s 400m prelims saw Arkansas senior Nickisha Pryce become the eighth-fastest Jamaican ever in the event.

Pryce, who is Jamaica’s reigning national champion, ran a personal best and collegiate leading 49.72 to advance to the final as the fastest qualifier ahead of teammate Kaylyn Brown who ran 49.86.

LSU sophomore Jahiem Stern produced 13.45 to advance to the final of the 110m hurdles.

In the field, the Jamaican Arkansas pair of Romaine Beckford and Wayne Pinnock won gold in the high jump and long jump, respectively.

Beckford had a best clearance of 2.22m to win ahead of LSU’s Kuda Chadenga (2.19m) and Ole Miss’s Arvesta Troupe (2.14m).

Pinnock, a sliver medalist at last year’s World Championships in Budapest, jumped 8.09m to successfully defend his SEC title.

Georgia’s Micah Larry produced 7.80m for second while Florida’s Caleb Foster was third with the same distance.

 

 

Jamaican Clemson junior Courtney Lawrence produced a personal best 19.75 to win shot put gold at the ACC Outdoor Championships in Atlanta on Friday.

The former Petersfield High standout and 2021 NACAC Under-23 champion produced three throws over 19m throughout his series to take the title ahead of Notre Dame’s Michael Schoaf (19.38m) and Wake Forest’s Thomas Kitchell (19.16m).

Jamaican Florida State sophomore Jordan Turner jumped 7.90m for second in the men’s long jump behind teammate Jeremiah Davis who jumped 7.97m for the win. Miami’s Russell Robinson was third with 7.82m.

Moving to the track where Lawrence’s schoolmate, Oneka Wilson, produced a personal best 13.00 to advance to the final of the women’s 100m hurdles as the fastest qualifier.

Another Jamaican Clemson standout, senior Tarees Rhoden, made it through to the final of the men's 800m with a 1:49.17 effort to finish second in his heat.

Phil Neville believes the Portland Timbers have not picked up the points their performances have warranted this season, but he knows the time has come for them to put their foot down ahead of Sunday's Cascadia Derby against the Seattle Sounders. 

Portland sit 12th in the Western Conference standings, below the Sounders on goal difference, after going eight MLS matches without a victory.

Their 10 points through 11 games in 2024 represents their joint-worst return at this point of any MLS campaign (alongside 2014).

Neville, however, believes they have deserved more as they prepare for a run of three home games in their next four.

"I think the first thing to say is we are not making any excuses – the results have not been as good as we wanted," he said.

"We've not got our just rewards but now we look forward to a stretch where we've got to perform better and get better results, we've got to put our foot down on the gas." 

The Sounders have also struggled this term, though they have taken four points from their last two MLS games against the Philadelphia Union (3-2) and LA Galaxy (0-0).

They then overcame Louisville City on penalties in the U.S. Open Cup in midweek, and coach Brian Schmetzer hopes they can carry on their momentum from that game on Sunday. 

"This club has had a long history in the U.S. Open Cup, I like the tournament. It was certainly a challenge against a good, well-coached Louisville team," Schmetzer said.

"We came out on top and hopefully this propels us a little bit in our league play."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Portland Timbers – Maxime Crepeau

Portland have conceded at least once in a club-record 17 successive regular-season matches, allowing 37 goals in that time.

Goalkeeper Crepeau has faced 41 shots so far in MLS this term, preventing 1.13 goals according to Opta's expected goals on target (xGoT) model, conceding 14 times from 15.8 xGoT faced.

Seattle Sounders – Raul Ruidiaz 

Ruidiaz has 12 goals in 16 previous MLS matches against Portland (including playoffs), the most goals scored by any player against the Timbers in MLS play. 

It's also the most goals scored by any MLS player against a single opponent since Ruidiaz made his debut in the competition in July 2018.

MATCH PREDICTION – PORTLAND TIMBERS WIN

The Timbers are unbeaten in six straight matches against the Sounders (four wins, two draws), the longest streak in all competitions by either team in the MLS era of their rivalry. 

Portland have also won their last two home matches against Seattle after the Sounders won four of the previous five meetings at Providence Park.

Seattle's 10 points through 11 matches this season are tied for the second-worst start in club history, having only collected eight points at this stage in 2018. Though the Timbers have been in dismal form themselves lately, this fixture could come at a good time for them.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Portland Timbers – 41.5%

Seattle Sounders – 30%

Draw – 28.5% 

Hubert Busby Junior has been reappointed as Head Coach of the Jamaica Senior National Women’s Team, the Jamaica Football Federation announced in a statement on Friday.

This is Busby's second stint with the team, having held the position from 2020 to 2021.

He was removed from the position when the JFF requested FIFA to investigate unsavory media reports originating in Europe. FIFA subsequently cleared Busby.

“The Jamaica Football Federation is pleased to announce that after careful consideration and due process, our technical committee has recommended the immediate reappointment of Hubert Busby as head coach of the Senior Women's National Team,” the JFF said in Friday’s release.   

“Based on his vast experience and knowledge of the squad, we think he is the perfect individual to take the team through the next stage of its development,” it continued.

Xavier Gilbert, who was acting in the role of Head Coach since October 2023, will revert to his previous role as assistant coach.

Busby's first task will be to take charge of the 23-member squad which will play two international friendlies against Brazil on June 1 and June 4 in Brazil.    

Eighteen members of the group for the two games were members of Jamaica’s history-making 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup squad, while former Liverpool midfielder Jade Bailey makes a return to the team which is missing prolific striker Khadija 'Bunny' Shaw and Kalyssa 'Kiki' Van Zanten due to injuries.

The squad is set to depart for South America on May 26. 

Squad: Chantelle Swaby, Konya Plummer, Jade Bailey, Denesha Blackwood, Kayla McKenna, Allyson Swaby, Drew Spence, Atlanta Primus, Vyan Sampson, Peyton McNamara, Page Bailey-Gayle, Trudy Carter, Kameron Simmonds, Tiffany Cameron, Sydney Schneider, Rebecca Spencer, Niya Cardoza, Liya Brooks, Amelia Van Zaten, Jody Brown, Israela Groves, Davia Richards, Lauren Reid

  

After midweek cup triumphs for both teams, all eyes turn to MLS this Saturday as Western Conference hopefuls Los Angeles FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps meet at BMO Stadium.

Ahead of Saturday's contest, Vancouver sit fourth in the West with 18 points from 10 games, with LAFC three points further back despite playing an additional match.

Vanni Sartini's hosts were in Canadian Championship action on Wednesday, beating Calgary 2-1 in the first leg of a quarter-final tie with a starting lineup containing five Canadian players. 

Sartini believes the experience of that match will serve his young players well, saying: "We want to do well in that competition and it fits with what we want to do, which is developing a lot of young players, guys who haven't played a lot for us.

"I'm really happy that we could play five of them, also because I think in this competition, if they have to give one per cent more to win, they will because it's their national competition."

LAFC, meanwhile, beat the Las Vegas Lights 3-1 to reach the last 16 of the U.S. Open Cup, a tournament they have never previously won.

Forward Kei Kamara scored his first LAFC goal in that match, and he hopes it will serve to kickstart his campaign.

"It was a battle but it's good for us to come here and get the win and move onto the next round," he said.

"Personally, it was nice to get a goal and wash that drought off, even though it was in the cup, to pick the team up and help us into the next round." 

PLAYERS TO WATCH 

Los Angeles FC – Denis Bouanga 

Bouanga has scored seven goals in six career matches against the Whitecaps in all competitions, including scoring in all four MLS encounters with them (including playoffs). 

The only player to score in five straight MLS meetings with Vancouver is Raul Ruidiaz, who did so between 2020 and 2022.

Vancouver Whitecaps – Brian White

White has scored in each of the Whitecaps' last three away matches. Only three players in team history, including White himself in 2023, have scored in four straight on the road in regular-season play.

MATCH PREDICTION – LOS ANGELES FC WIN

LAFC have won four of their last six matches against Vancouver in all competitions (one draw, one defeat) with all four wins coming in the CONCACAF Champions Cup or MLS Cup Playoffs. 

In regular-season play, LAFC have won only one of their last eight against the Whitecaps, drawing three and losing four. However, they are favourites to improve on that record here.

Saturday's hosts are unbeaten in nine straight home matches (seven wins, two draws) dating back to the end of last season. LAFC have previously recorded three runs of 10 or more home matches without defeat in their history, and they will fancy their chances of repeating the trick.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Los Angeles FC – 56.8%

Vancouver Whitecaps – 18.5%

Draw – 24.7% 

Chris Armas believes the Colorado Rapids are already developing a winning mentality, as they bid to continue their strong start to the campaign against the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.

Colorado sit fifth in the Western Conference standings with 18 points from 11 games after beating New York City FC 2-1 on their travels last week, their fifth win of the campaign.

That is as many victories as they managed throughout the entirety of last season, and another win on Saturday would take them past the 20-point mark, which they required 27 matches to surpass in 2023.

"Often I'm just watching and learning from the best teams and coaches, that could be in our league, it could be around the world, but when the whistle blows we know how to ramp it up," Armas said this week.

"If you have this ability to ramp it up on game day, then that becomes the norm. You can be light-hearted, you can enjoy training, but when the whistle blows out there it is game on.

"You can see that's becoming who we are, that we know our roles and the players are clear on what they do. We hold them to it and they're now starting to hold each other more accountable."

The 'Quakes are bottom of the West with seven points, though they recorded just their second win of the season against Los Angeles FC last week.

Amahl Pellegrino scored in that 3-1 derby win, and he hopes it can be a turning point for the team, saying: "Football is an easy thing when you have confidence. 

"To get a huge win with a good performance makes things easier because you start to believe in what you're doing in training. We just have to continue."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Colorado Rapids – Cole Bassett 

Bassett recorded a goal and an assist in last week's win over NYCFC, his fifth regular-season match with at least one goal and one assist for the Rapids. 

Only three players have ever enjoyed more such games for Colorado in their MLS history.

San Jose Earthquakes – Cristian Espinoza 

Espinoza assisted two of San Jose's three goals against LAFC last time out, his eighth multi-assist match in MLS, tied for the most of any player since he joined the league in 2019 (with Carles Gil and Mauricio Pereyra).

MATCH PREDICTION – COLORADO RAPIDS WIN

Colorado are unbeaten in 12 straight regular-season home matches against San Jose (six wins, six draws) with the Earthquakes' last win in Commerce City coming in 2013. 

This equals the Rapids' longest regular-season home unbeaten run against any opponent, having also gone 12 without defeat versus the LA Galaxy between 2003 and 2009.

With San Jose only recording two wins so far this campaign, the Rapids will be confident of maintaining that impressive record.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY 

Colorado Rapids – 48.2%

San Jose Earthquakes – 24.6%

Draw – 27.2%

Ackera Nugent, the 2023 NCAA 100m hurdles champion, has achieved another milestone by graduating from the University of Arkansas with a degree in Advanced Communication. The 22-year-old track and field standout turned professional in 2023 shortly after clinching the NCAA title and has now successfully completed her academic journey while pursuing her athletic career.

Nugent, who joined the University of Arkansas in January 2023 after two seasons at Baylor University, remained committed to her studies even after signing a professional contract. In an Instagram post celebrating her achievement, Nugent expressed heartfelt gratitude to her mother and shared a message of inspiration.

“No one hustles harder than a first-gen who is paving the way," Nugent wrote. "You will succeed in all you do, and light will shine on your path."

Acknowledging her mother's sacrifices and unwavering support, Nugent continued, "Your selfless love and sacrifices have shaped me into the person I am today. There are no words to fully repay you for all that you have done, but I promise to do everything in my power to ensure that you live a wonderful and fulfilling life ahead."

Nugent's journey to graduation comes on the heels of her outstanding performance at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in 2023, where she blazed through the 100m hurdles to claim victory in 12.25 seconds. Reflecting on her championship win, Nugent credited her coach's guidance and expressed satisfaction with her performance.

"It feels amazing to know that I've just got to trust my coach, and I follow instruction very, very well," Nugent said back then. "To be able to follow those instructions and see the time, I feel very pleased."

Despite her academic success, Nugent made the strategic decision to turn professional in track and field, aiming to pursue her athletic dreams to the fullest while maintaining her dedication to education.

"I'm staying in school because I feel like getting my degree is very important," Nugent explained during an exclusive interview with Sportsmax.TV.

By going professional, Nugent is poised to embark on a new chapter in her athletic career, leveraging her talent and determination to excel at the highest levels of competition.

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