Central FC faces a critical Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League showdown with visiting Group C rival Sporting Kansas City at Ato Boldon Stadium on Tuesday.
And the current Caribbean champion do so with a massive reinforcement.
The Sharks announced that Trinidad & Tobago international forward Kenwyne Jones – a long-time standout in the English Premier League -- has joined the club on loan from Major League Soccer expansion side Atlanta United and is available for selection.
“This guy is not here as a marquee player for promotional purposes. He is part of the squad and will be treated the same,” Central FC head coach Dale Saunders said. “Kenwyne will add quality, composure and leadership to the team and he will be a key to Central winning their Champions League group.”
Central opened the competition with a 1-0 home loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps on August 2. Saunders insists the difference was that Vancouver is in the middle of its season and his side is still in preseason.
“We were never outclassed,” remarked Saunders. “But we stepped up where we should have and that’s purely down to match fitness.”
With road matches against Vancouver and Sporting on the horizon, Saunders understands that a win is crucial for Central’s hopes of advancing out of the group.
“It’s simple,” he expressed. “We have to win this game and get four points on the road to qualify. Whitecaps took advantage of our lack of match fitness, but we’ve played several Pro League clubs this week and will be better prepared. With Kenwyne in the squad, I’ll have more options. Both Vancouver and Kansas are totally beatable and I’m confident that we will win on Tuesday.”
Sporting Kansas City makes its 2016/17 SCCL debut after playing host FC Dallas to a 2-2 draw on Saturday as forward Dominic Dwyer struck for a brace, giving him a team-best 12 goals.
“Wins are important anywhere you are, but everybody else has to play their games as well,” Sporting Kansas City coach Peter Vermes said after the match. “Points at the end of the season every year go all over the place. We just have to keep trying to grind out as many points as we can with each game.”
Vermes is hoping to build off that performance heading into Tuesday night’s clash with Central.
“I think if a few things in this league go your way, it’s amazing how fast things can turn in your favor,” Vermes said. “So the good thing is we’re still plugging away and fighting game after game, and you see that in the way our players play. That’s the positive thing on my side.”