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The Eastern Conference Kickabout: Week 3

The Kickabout is back! We’ll miss Kevin Kernen :_( because he actually bothered to watch all of the games. I have a wife and kids and dogs so I can’t do that. What I can do, though, is shamelessly plagiarize and editorialize USLsoccer.com’s Nicholas Murray and aggregate his wrapups into just one place. Read on!

Let’s do this in chronological order this week, which might also be the way the USLsoccer.com writing staff handles their power rankings!

Orlando City B 3 – 0 Torontwo

Orlando City B’s offense, which tallied only once in two games to open the season, woke up in impressive fashion Tuesday at Orlando City Stadium. [Ed Note: Actually, that’s not true, because Tarek Morad scored OCB’s only goal of the season leading up to kickoff last Tuesday! Sorry, Tarek, we know you didn’t mean it.]

OCB scored three times en route to a 3-1 victory against Toronto FC II for the second-year side’s first win of the new campaign. Pierre Da Silva set up a pair of goals – Hadji Barry late in the first half and Lewis Neal early in the second half. Paul Clowes had the game’s first goal in the 18th minute for Orlando (1-2-0, 3 points). For Toronto (1-2-0, 3 points), Malik Johnson found an equalizer in the 30th minute, but the Reds were unable to follow up that effort in the attack, even with a man advantage for the final 20-plus minutes. Da Silva was sent off in the 69th minute, leaving the host side shorthanded down the stretch. It was Toronto, though, so it didn’t matter.

New York Red Bulls II 0 – 1 Harrisburg City Islanders

New York lost! To Harrisburg! In their A-team’s empty stadium! Wait, I thought RB2 was playing at Montclair State this year? Whatever, they still lost! To HARRISBURG!

The City Islanders got a goal from Manolo Sanchez to earn a 1-0 victory against the New York Red Bulls II on Wednesday night at Red Bull Arena to take their first win of the 2017 USL season. The game lacked flow early, but both teams had chances in quick succession just before the half-hour mark as first Harrisburg’s Manolo Sanchez was denied by a good sliding tackle by New York’s Michael Murillo. The Red Bulls II’s Alex Muyl then forced a big save by City Islanders goalkeeper Brandon Miller. The Red Bulls II (1-1-1, 4pts) had more pressure to start the second half, but a defensive mistake by Murillo allowed Sanchez to break in on goal and calmly finish to give Harrisburg (1-1-0, 3pts) the lead in the 62nd minute. New York’s Zeiko Lewis almost found an equalizer 10 minutes later, only to see his effort slide wide, while Junior Flemmings headed just wide in stoppage time, but the Red Bulls II were unable to find an equalizer as a 12-game undefeated streak in the USL regular season came to an end.

Tworonto 0 – 0 Rochester Rhinos

Only a masochist would watch these two teams play soccer. Right? I’m tempted to just skip this one and move on, but Nick works so hard on these things:

Toronto FC II and the Rochester Rhinos played to a 0-0 draw on Friday night at the Ontario Soccer Centre in TFC II’s home opener for the 2017 USL regular season. Rochester had the better of the first half overall, but Toronto twice came close to taking the lead as a shot by Jelani Peters was blocked just wide, and the subsequent corner saw Ben Spencer’s flicked header go just wide. The Rhinos hit the crossbar off a set piece of their own, Wal Fall’s header clipping the woodwork before going behind, but the sides went to the break scoreless. Toronto began to get a better foothold in the game after the break, and Sergio Camargo forced a close-range save from Rhinos goalkeeper Tomas Gomez in the 61st minute. Gomez also had to deny Spencer with 18 minutes to go as the hosts looked for the lead, while Rochester’s Joe Farrell had a header from a corner cleared off the line soon after. The Rhinos again went close from a free kick with eight minutes to go when Fall was denied at close range by Toronto’s Angelo Cavaluzzo, but the game ended deadlocked as both teams settled for a point.

Charleston Battery 1 – 2 Pittsburgh Riverhounds

[angrily shakes fist at Gale Agbossoumonde]

The Pittsburgh Riverhounds ended an extensive winless streak against the Charleston Battery, rallying from an early deficit to post a thrilling 2-1 victory on Saturday at MUSC Health Stadium. Corey Hertzog scored the game-winner off of a Kevin Kerr cross in second-half stoppage time to complete the comeback, while Marshall Hollingsworth provided a 59th-minute equalizer to turn the tide. Charleston’s Ataulla Guerra tallied in the eighth minute to give the host side the early lead. The Hounds ended Charleston’s 11-game unbeaten streak (6-0-5) against Pittsburgh. I marked the Hounds’ first win against Charleston since a 2-0 victory on June 25, 2011. The Battery move to 1-1-1 (4 points) while Pittsburgh improves to 1-1-1 (4 points).

Orlando City B 1 – 1 Charlotte Independence

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzAlbert Dikwa’s first professional goal helped Orlando City B secure a 1-1 tie against the Charlotte Independence at Orlando City Stadium on Saturday. Lewis Hilton scored the Independence’s first goal of the 2017 United Soccer League campaign an hour into the match, firing a shot by OCB goalkeeper Earl Edwards Jr., who had a strong game despite conceding the goal. Dikwa, a Soccer Institute at Montverde Academy (SIMA) product who signed for OCB in February, tapped in his goal after teammate Austin Martz sent a dangerous ball across the six-yard box. Orlando City B is now 1-1-2, while the Independence move to 0-1-1.

Tampa Bay Rowdies 1 – 0 Ottawa Fury

The Tampa Bay Rowdies recorded their third consecutive victory to start the season as Georgi Hristov scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory against Ottawa Fury FC in front of a crowd of 5,310 on Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium. Tampa Bay had the better of possession early, but it was Fury FC that created the better chances. Rowdies goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald made a big save to deny Sito Seoane in the 24th minute, and three minutes later Lance Rozeboom also went close for the visitors, but the game went to halftime scoreless. Less than two minutes after the break, though, the Rowdies took the lead as a deflected cross by Luke Boden on the left was met by a flicked header from Georgi Hristov that found the right side of the net. Hristov forced a save from Fury FC goalkeeper Callum Irving soon after, while Deshorn Brown also went close from a corner kick as the hosts looked to add to their lead. A pair of chances that went just off target by Walker Hume and Steevan Dos Santos, and a low cross that trickled through the Rowdies’ six-yard area, all provided chances for Fury FC to find an equalizer, but the Rowdies held on to remain perfect on the early season.

St. Louis 3 – 2 New York Red Bulls II

That scoreless draw against STL is looking better all the time. Saint Louis and New York Red Bulls II created plenty of swings on Saturday. Ultimately, it was the host side that grabbed the final say as Seth Rudolph scored an 84th-minute winner during a 3-2 victory at Toyota Stadium at the World Wide Technology Soccer Park. The game featured three different lead changes. Christian Volesky scored in just the third minute for STLFC. Then it was NYRB II’s Brandon Allen who made an impact early in the second half with a goal and an assist on Vincent Bezecourt’s tally for a lead. Jose Angulo turned the tide with a 74th-minute penalty kick conversion to tie the score and then assisted second-half sub Rudolph’s winner 10 minutes later. With the win, STLFC improves to 2-0-1 (7 points) while NYRB II falls to 1-2-1 (4 points) and drops its second straight.

Bethlehem Steel 2 – 0 Cincinnati

Well, well, well! Saved the best for last, have we? Bethlehem Steel FC earned its first win of the season and also its first against FC Cincinnati as Seku Conneh’s second-half brace led to a 2-0 victory on Sunday at Goodman Stadium. Conneh’s two goals in the 47th and 60th minutes came against a Cincinnati side that played much of the match shorthanded after defender Paul Nicholson was sent off in the 23rd minute to deny a Cory Burke scoring attempt. Bethlehem goalkeeper Jake McGuire earned the win in his first appearance. His counterpart, FCC’s Mitch Hildebrandt, rose shortly after the Nicholson sending off, saving Conneh’s 24th-minute penalty kick. Steel FC moves to 1-1-0 (3 points) on the season while Cincinnati drops to 1-2-0 (3 points) to wrap up its three-game road trip to start the season.