With Arsenal playing in the Division II finals the third time in a row, the team’s entry into Division I starts to look more and more likely. The one question still remaining: will a Roatan stadium be built first, or will Arsenal’s division I home debut happen on foreign soil.
Amongst changes in the Arsenal line up in the 2007 fall season was the position of the head coach. Santos Gonzales, a Uruguayan with 20 years experience coaching Honduran football, came to lead Roatan from Universidad Tegucigalpa, a strong second division team. Arsenal’s coach of the past two years, Pasqual Moralez, went off to coach Union Ajax. His coaching style of solid defense and counter attack was replaced by Gonzales’ dominant pressure attack.
With the fall 2007 season record of 2 loses, 1 draw and 9 wins, Arsenal was on a trajectory to the division II “apertura finals.” In November, Arsenal advanced to the national finals by beating Olimpia Occidental. Real Juventud of Santa Barbara, the other finalist, won with Union Ajax and the two finalists faced off in Coxen Hole on December 9th.
The match begun with Arsenal’s Angel Mejilla scoring a goal in the 10th minute of play. Roatan team kept up the pressure and out-ran, out-played and out-classed the Santa Barbara team. This domination came to a rapid halt right at the beginning of second half when Arsenal midfielder Carlos Huiti was red-carded for dangerous play. Now Arsenal found itself playing a more defensive game and relying on Levan Smith, a goalkeeper, for preserving its narrow victory.
On November 17, the second match of the finals took place in Santa Barbara. “It was bad, really bad. Their [Real Juventud’s] owner went into the referee room during half-time and the referees walked out as different people,” said Paul Jeffries, an Arsenal board of directors member. According to Jeffries AK-47 and automatic pistols were fired at the game. All the commotion ended in Arsenal loosing its cool and one of its players receiving a red card. The regular time play ended with Real Juventud leading 1:0. In overtime, the Roatan team scored one goal, but gave up two more. The 3:1 end score made Real Juventud the division II champion. [/private]