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The Eastern Conference Kickabout: Week 4

The Kickabout is a weekly roundup of USL Eastern Conference results. I have a real job and too many kids, so I don’t actually watch all of the games. USL’s Nicholas Murray does, though, so I shamelessly plagiarize and editorialize his myriad recaps from USLsoccer.com into just one place. Read on!

WHAT A WEEKEND! I’m still buzzing from Saturday night. If you weren’t there, you need to get there next time. Other things happened in the USL in Week 4, too, so let’s look down the table at the rest of the conference and pretend we care!

Pittsburgh Riverhounds 1 – 2 St. Louis

This was a good, tight game until Christian Volesky and Wes Charpie put together a really nice goal for Fenton Wanderers and the Burgh just didn’t have enough gas to answer them. Saint Louis FC jumped into first place in the Eastern Conference, briefly, anyway, as the side overcame an early defensive blunder to rally for a 2-1 victory against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Wednesday at Highmark Stadium. Both teams were coming off thrilling late-game winners in Week 3, with Pittsburgh rallying past the Charleston Battery and STLFC coming back for a victory against the defending champion New York Red Bulls II. After the Hounds’ Kay Banjo scored his first goal in the fifth minute, Saint Louis responded well. Former Pittsburgh forward Jose Angulo netted a first-half equalizer and Christian Volesky found the 68th-minute winner. Both tallies were assisted by Wesley Charpie.

New York Red Bulls II 2 – 1 Orlando City B

The “B” stands for “Bad.” NYRB II, coming off back-to-back losses, turned things around with a 3-1 victory against Orlando City B on Friday at MSU Soccer Park. Vincent Bezecourt did the brunt of the damage with a first-half stoppage time goal, an assist to Junior Flemmings in the 16th minute and a quickly taken free kick assist to David Abidor that caught OCB off guard in the 87th minute. Bezecourt has four goals on the season to move into sole possession of the USL goal-scoring lead. Orlando’s Albert Dikwa scored off of a Pierre Da Silva assist in the 34th minute, but OCB’s offense was held at bay for the remainder of the match. The game served as a rematch of the opening round of the 2016 USL Cup Playoffs. Eventual champion NYRB II defeated OCB 4-0 in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. With the win Friday, New York improves to 2-2-1 (7 points). Orlando drops to 1-3-1 (4 points).

Richmond Kickers 0 – 1 Ottawa Fury

The soccer internet was briefly ablaze on Friday nigh when David Villa scored from basically midfield for NYCFC against Philadelphia Union in MLS. Duba Dos Santos more or less one-upped him on Saturday from actual midfield away at Richmond for the match’s only goal. You have to see it to believe it:

Steevan Dos Santos Scores Amazing Goal From… by WittyFutty
That’s the only interesting thing that happened in this entire game, so I won’t bore you with the rest. Dos Santos’s goal was one of two Fury shots on goal the entire game, and Richmond is offensively inept.

Harrisburg City Islanders 3 – 2 Bethlehem Steel

The Harrisburg City Islanders put on a show at FNB Field on Saturday, recording a 3-2 win against in-state rival Bethlehem Steel FC with a late winner from Cardel Benbow. The home side took an early 2-0 lead with Aaron Wheeler and Paul Wilson scoring first-half goals for the City Islanders, who looked to build on their impressive win against the New York Red Bulls II on April 5. However, Steel FC battled back. Santiago Moar scored his first goal of season in the 38th minute, and Chris Nanco was an impact substitute for Steel FC, scoring a game-tying goal in the 64th minute of play. Entering the match for Manolo Sanchez in the 84th minute, Benbow netted the game-winner just before the final whistle. Making his way inside the penalty area, the attacker danced by two Steel FC players before firing a low right-footed effort by an outstretched Jake McGuire. With the win, the City Islanders improve to 2-1-0, while Steel FC moves to 1-2-0 this season.

Charleston Battery 5 – 0 Rochester Rhinos

That’s the kind of result that’ll get your attention. Romario Williams and the Charleston Battery delivered an offensive performance that the Rochester Rhinos have rarely run into. Williams tallied a first-half hat trick and Charleston rolled to a 5-0 victory against Rochester on Saturday at MUSC Health Stadium. Williams scored the opening two goals in the run of play, followed with a finish off of an O’Brian Woodbine throw-in, and then assisted Ataulla Guerra’s 31st-minute score to go into the halftime break up four goals against the Rhinos. Maikel Chang capped off the scoring with an 81st-minute score. The last time the Rhinos conceded more than three goals was during their only loss of the 2015 championship campaign, a 4-2 defeat to the Charlotte Independence on Aug. 1, 2015. The last time Rochester conceded five goals in a game was during a 5-1 loss to the Harrisburg City Islanders during the 2013 campaign. Charleston moves to 3-0-1 (10 points) while Rochester drops to 1-3-1 (4 points).

Cincinnati 4 – 0 St. Louis

Yikes. St. Louis’s stint at the top of the Eastern Conference table was decidedly short-lived. Djiby Fall scored a club-record four goals as FC Cincinnati thrilled a crowd of 23,144 at Nippert Stadium saw the hosts take a 4-0 victory against Saint Louis FC on Saturday night in its home opener. Both teams came close to connecting on corner kicks in the opening 20 minutes, but while Saint Louis had the upper hand in possession Cincinnati’s Matt Bahner combined well with Fall in the 32nd minute to set up a close-range finish that was saved by STLFC goalkeeper Devala Gorrick at the near post. Three minutes later the two combined again for the opening goal. A cross by Bahner from the right found Fall at the back post, and his header just crossed the line to give the hosts the lead. Fall doubled FCC’s lead two minutes into first-half stoppage time as he put home a turning finish off Harrison Delbridge’s header from a corner. Three minutes into the second half Fall had his hat trick as a slide-rule pass by Kenney Walker found Corben Bone breaking in behind the STLFC defense, and he centered to allow the Senegalese forward to tap home, and he notched a fourth just past the hour-mark on his second header of the night.

Charlotte Independence 1 – 1 Pittsburgh Riverhounds

The visiting Pittsburgh Riverhounds and host Charlotte Independence traded goals within the opening 10 minutes and played to a 1-1 draw on Saturday at Eagle Field. Pittsburgh’s Kay Banjo scored his second goal in as many games in just the second minute. Charlotte veteran Jorge Herrera followed with a penalty kick conversion just four minutes later to post his 41st career tally and first of the season. The point also is Pittsburgh’s first against Charlotte after falling in back-to-back shutout losses during the 2016 season. The Riverhounds are now 1-2-2 (5 points) and Charlotte moves to 0-1-2 (2 points) as the Independence continue to look for their first win of 2017.