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The Eastern Conference Kickabout: Week 7

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 into just one place. Read on!

Charleston’s still on top, Richmond finds the net, and Tampa stalls out.

Pittsburgh Riverhounds 1 – 0 Toronto FC II

Apparently karma isn’t a thing, as the Hounds brought Cobra Kai devotee Romeo Parkes back after last year’s season-long suspension. And of course T2 gave up a goal to Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Riverhounds claimed their first back-to-back victories in more than a year with a 1-0 victory against Toronto FC II in the USL Game of the Week on ESPN3 at Highmark Stadium on Wednesday night. Toronto had the better of the early going, but the Riverhounds took the lead in the 22nd minute as a quick pair of passes by Kevin Kerr and Marshall Hollingsworth teed up Victor Souto for a driven finish from 25 yards out. Hollingsworth almost doubled the lead six minutes later, only to be denied at point-blank range by TFC II goalkeeper Angelo Cavalluzzo, while Kevin Kerr curled a finish just high and wide soon after with the outside of his right foot. The Riverhounds continued to  create the better chances in the second half, as Michael Green had his shot blocked after a big counter-attack led by Hollingsworth. Toronto, meanwhile, was unable to muster an effort toward goal in the opening 20 minutes of the second half despite shading the possession battle. Malik Johnson’s volley from the edge of the penalty flew high and wide with 14 minutes to go. Pittsburgh’s Corey Hertzog forced a big save from Cavalluzzo with seven minutes to go as his dipping shot from 30 yards was tipped over, while Toronto’s Ryan Telfer shot just over after Hounds goalkeeper Trey Mitchell had punched clear from the left side of his penalty area, but the Riverhounds held on for a big three points.

Ottawa Fury 0 – 0 Tampa Bay Rowdies

Ottawa Fury FC and the Tampa Bay Rowdies played to a 0-0 draw on Saturday afternoon at TD Place. The Rowdies believed they had taken the lead in the fourth minute, but an offside call ruled out Justin Chavez’s header from a corner kick from the left. Tampa Bay forced a pair of saves in the opening half, while Ottawa’s Steevan Dos Santos had the lone shot on goal for Fury FC as the game went to the break scoreless, but neither side was able to create much as the second half progressed. Fury FC’s Sito Seoane forced the best save of the game by Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens with a low shot from 20 yards with eight minutes to go, but the teams settled for a scoreless draw as the Rowdies claimed the regular-season series.

New York Red Bulls II 3 – 1 Harrisburg City Islanders

Brandon Allen scored twice from the penalty spot as the New York Red Bulls II notched a 3-1 victory against the Harrisburg City Islanders on Saturday afternoon at MSU Soccer Park. New York threatened early on a shot by Zeiko Lewis, but the Red Bulls II were awarded a penalty kick when Brandon Allen was fouled going for a header near the penalty spot. Allen shot home into the left side to put New York ahead. Harrisburg almost hit back seven minutes later when Aaron Wheeler fizzed a shot just high and wide of the left post from 20 yards, but the rangy forward put home a headed equalizer from a perfect near-post corner from the right by Jonathan Mendoza that was flicked home six minutes before the break. New York’s David Najem forced a big save by City Islanders goalkeeper Nick Noble inside the opening minute of the second half, but the Red Bulls II were awarded a second penalty kick when Lewis was brought down in the area. Allen converted again for his fourth of the season in the 57th minute. New York almost added to its lead on the counter-attack with 14 minutes to go, only for Noble to make a big save on Vincent Bezecourt, but with 11 minutes to go Douglas Martinez wrapped up all three points for the hosts.

Richmond Kickers 1 – 1 Cincinnati

No red cards in this one, which should count as a victory for the Bitey Soccer Lion Kings. The Richmond Kickers and FC Cincinnati played to a 1-1 draw on Saturday night at City Stadium as FCC’s Jimmy McLaughlin provided a second-half equalizer for the visitors. The Kickers took the lead in the seventh minute when Chris Korb pulled off a beautiful piece of skill to beat his man on the left, and his low cross was touched home at the near post by Fred Owusu Sekyere. Luiz Fernando shot over for the Kickers soon after as the hosts had the better pressure early as FCC didn’t find much success early. Cincinnati’s first real chance came in the 31st minute when Austin Berry poked an effort that was claimed by Richmond’s Matt Turner after a corner wasn’t cleared, but Richmond held its lead until the break. Richmond’s Oliver Minatel forced a good save five minutes into the second half after a good move by the Kickers, while FCC’s Cristian Martinez blazed a shot over from 14 yards out on the right side of the penalty area. Cincinnati got on level terms with 20 minutes to go as a good cut-back from Matt Bahner found McLaughlin for a low finish to the right corner, and while the Kickers almost regained the lead with 10 minutes to go when Alhaji Kamara’s header clipped the top of the crossbar, the game ended all square.

Charleston Battery 1 – 0 Bethlehem Steel

The Charleston Battery’s Ataulla Guerra tallied in the opening 20 minutes and his goal held up as Charleston defeated Bethlehem Steel FC 1-0 on Saturday at MUSC Health Stadium. For Guerra, it was his third tally of the season to tie for second on the squad with Forrest Lasso. Charleston played without striker Romario Williams who was out with an illness. This marked the second of a three-game home stand for Charleston, which improves to 5-1-1 (16 points) overall atop the Eastern Conference. The Battery are now 3-1-1 at home. Bethlehem played close with Charleston but ultimately fell to 0-2-0 on the road this season and 2-4-0 overall (6 points).