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The Kickabout: July 4, 2016

It was a pretty straightforward Independence Day weekend in the USL. Rochester and New York II finished goaless, which means that Louisville can build on its first-place bona fides Monday night when Montreal stumble into Slugger for a match that promises little and I suspect will deliver less. But I digress, this isn’t a review for LouCity, but the USL.

Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC 1, Real Monarchs SLC 0

Although the scoreboard may lead people to believe that the Monarchs were in this one, but COS had a grip on this one from wire to wire. COS took the lead in the 13th minute when Miguel Gonzalez had a pass deflected off of the noggin of a RMSLC defender and fall fortuitously to the feet of Jordan Burt who instinctually struck it while Monarchs keeper Fernandez was screened. That would prove to be the only score of the match. Gorrick was called into action only a few times in goal for the Switchbacks, most notably in the closing stages of the first half when the Monarchs put together a good sequence to find Sandoval some space in the COS defense to turn a cross onto goal. The Monarchs only managed a pair of shots on goal after that. The result sees COS’ three game winless streak snapped, they sit 4th, 6 points off of first placed Vancouver and 2 games in hand.

New York Red Bulls II 0, Rochester Rhinos 0

If you haven’t heard by now, the Baby Bulls only managed a draw last Saturday against Rochester who, to their credit, nearly managed to win. They certainly had the lions share (or Rhino’s share if you like) of attacking chances, garnering 6 shots on goal to NYRBII’s lone strike. Rochester will feel like the ones who dropped the points, but it on paper it always looked like a draw would be the most likely result. Despite the team’s staunch defenses, there were a few chances for a breakthrough in this competition, most controversial of which transpired in the 56th minute when an untouched Rochester free kick from an advanced position on the left side of the field found the back of the net, only to be disallowed when the Assistant referee judged a Rochester player to affect Meara from an offside position. Rochester (whose canary jerseys remind me of Norwich City) had a catalogue of half-chances through the game, and NYRBII looked second-best on the day. The result sees NYRBII’s unbeaten run go to 9 matches, and they now sit a game up and 3 points behind Louisville City. Rochester are in an unfamiliar position of needing wins to get home field advantage come playoff time. They’re 6th at 7-4-4, 3 points behind Charlotte and a game in hand.

Charleston Battery 2, Richmond Kickers 0

The Battery opened up a nice little 5-point gap between 4th and 5th in the Eastern conference standings with a win over fellow USL stalwarts Richmond Kickers. Their win came in convincing fashion as they took care of business in the first half, putting away the visiting Kickers within the first 35 minutes. The first goal came off of a well-executed corner routine that Taylor Mueller flicked back post with his noodle. Charleston doubled their money just 7 minutes later when a great cross from Obrian Woodbine’s cross found Heviel Cordoves making a good run between the center backs and headed it back post.  There were a few instances of note in the second half, an Yudai Imura volley hit the Charleston post, and a Battery free kick just outside the box struck the Kickers’ crossbar. Charleston went down to 10 men minutes from the end, but Richmond had already looked beaten by then. The result takes Charleston to 9-4-3, good for 4th in the East, and Richmond are holding onto 8th place by 2 points and a game less than Bethlehem Steel who are on the outside looking in.

Orlando City B 1, Charlotte Independence 1

It was a hectic and untidy effort that lead to Charlotte’s goal in the 27th minute. Lewis Hilton sent a cross into the OCB box, where the keeper, a defender and Independence forward Brian Brown converged with Brown getting the only touch on it, sending it trickling into the OCB net. OCB stated to get things going as the first half wore on, but it didn’t long into the second half for the Cubs to get onto the board. 73 seconds, in fact. OCB forward Michael Cox had a classy finish near post after a grounded cross from Zachary Ellis-Hayden hit him in stride. Neither side got more than 4 shots on goal, and the result isn’t doing either side any favors in terms of breaking into the top half of the East. Charlotte are 5 points adrift of 4th place, and OCB are 7th at 6-6-4.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 2, Real Monarchs SLC 1

Daniel Haber put the visiting ‘Caps 2 in front early, but it looked like the Monarchs had stolen a point at home against the Western Conference leaders Whitecaps 2 when Tyler Arnone got on the end of an incisive Fatawu Saifu pass to slot it home in the 86th minute.  But Vancouver proved why they are in the drivers’ seat out west when they took all three points when Brett Levis got on the end of a Matt Baldisimo cross deep in injury time. The result sees Vancouver win 3 of their last 4, and consolidate their hold on first, with a 3 point advantage and a game in hand on second placed Galaxy II.