Fri | Dec 9, 2016

2014-15 RSPL taking shape

Published:Tuesday | December 16, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Leon Strickland (right) of Arnett Gardens dribbling past Tivoli Gardens' Rohan Reid during a Red Stripe National Premier League football match at the Edward Seaga Sports Complex on Sunday. Arnett Gardens won 3-2. -Ian Allen/Photographer
Boys' Town's Daemion Benjamin (centre) tries to force his way between Cavalier's Donovan Alveranga (left) and Dwayne Holmes during a Red Stripe Premier League football match at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex in November. Cavalier won 3-1.-file
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The 2014-2015 Red Stripe Premier League round 14 is finished and the teams have already established themselves in three groups. The top four teams from last year - Waterhouse FC, Montego Bay United (MBU), Arnett Gardens FC, and Harbour View FC - are the top four teams, and based on current form, pedigree, and the deep squads of these teams, they are definitely the favourites to advance to this year's play-off stages again.

It is whispered that Waterhouse are the Galacticos of local football as even former national players and invitees have been told to ply their trade elsewhere as they boast the likes of Romario Campbell, Jermaine 'Tuffy' Anderson, Richard McCallun, Nicholy Finlayson, Upstand Edwards, Hughan Gray, Damerly Samuels, Tremaine Stewart, and many more young national Under-20 players waiting in the wings for opportunities.

Montego Bay United, on the other hand, have Leslie St Fluer, Dino Williams, Allan Ottey, and Moreicio Gordon, one of the best attacks in the island. They have not, for the first or second time, employed a foreign coach to guide them to a second title in two years.

This squad has been together for the past three years. MBU's Orville Powell, whose playing arena, Wespow Park (which was named after himself), consists of two training pitches, a match pitch, numerous cottages to house players, a stream running through the premises, and a go kart track. Did I mention a pool, a gym, and a concrete multipurpose court? Whew!

Arnett Garden seem to have a factory of talent that just springs up every day in that community and appears to be back on track, winning their last four matches to put them in the top four, hanging out players like Kirk Ramsay and Marcelino Blackburn to dry.

Harbour View need no introduction. Ever since they sold Ricardo Gardener for a cool reported £1,000,000 in 1998 to Bolton Wanderers, they have been regarded as the most organised club in the country, always having a fearsome unit, although thay have been on the wane in recent years. These four teams are the real contenders for the RSPL title and Bleachers Report (BR) expects the winners to come from this category.

Cavalier, early leaders of the league for about nine rounds (the chik-V rounds), and Tivoli Gardens FC - the reluctant entrants this year after the Honourable Edward Seaga expressed doubts about the team's participation in this year's edition of the Premier League, citing financial concerns - make up the list of the pretenders with enough quality to crash the party and qualify for the play-offs.

Cavalier are not expected to win as they field the youngest team in the Premier League. This team looks like a project for future years. Tivoli pack much more experience and have made some good acquisitions like former Waterhouse FC standout Weston Forrest to shore up their midfield, which already includes Keammar Daley.

Sporting Central and Rivoli United complete the list of pretenders that could surprise as on their best days, they can upset the big boys but maybe too inconsistent to make the play-off round.

Last but not least, the four teams that will be drawn in the relegation dogfight will be Humble Lions, Boys' Town, Barbican, and Reno FC. Next week, BR will deal in detail with which team will go down.

Second coaching casualty

In the meanwhile, Junior Francis, who coached Waterhouse in the first part of the season last year, has become the second coaching casualty of this year's Premier League. Vice-president Chris James has stated that the results were not good after Barbican amassed 10 points from 12 games and it could not continue. Francis was seen watching his former club draw 1-1 with Humble Lion last Sunday at the Drewsland mini-stadium. The first casualty was the separation of Craig Butler from Humble Lion in November. Who will be the third casualty? BR will tell you next week.