It was an entertaining (if you enjoy offensive production) week in the USL with 13 games featuring 3 or more goals, we had St. Louis spray 7 past listless Tulsa, Rochester go down to Toronto II, and Charleston fall to a surging Orlando City B squad. But first lets look back at the midweek fixtures:
Swope Park Rangers 4, Rio Grande Valley 0
RGV’s 6 game unbeaten run was brought to a screeching halt last Wednesday at Swope Soccer Village as the Rangers blew 4 past the visitors thanks largely to a 3 assist, 1 goal performance from Birthday Boy Kevin Olivera. A Mark Gonzalez brace didn’t hurt either. SPR leapt from the gate, controlling much of the pace of play and dictated most of the possession over the Toros. The inevitable goal came in the 23rd minute when Olivera found Gonzalez from a headed pass at the top of the 18 for a simple finish. At first view it was clearly offside, by a good 2 feet, so RGV may feel a bit hard done by. It was a good build up however, stringing a good 8 passes together to work it up field. The next one came 4 minutes later off of a counter attack, and Olivera found Gonzalez for a second time at in the 18 with one defender to beat, he cut it back and slotted it home. At this point RGV already looked beat. Olivera got his goal a couple minutes from the half and added his third assist in the 69th minute when he found sub Daniel Salloi free after a break found RGV keeper Calle Brown charging the birthday man, leaving his goal agape for Salloi. RGV’s offense never got off the bus, they laid a big ol’ fat goose egg in the shots-on-goal column and just 4 shots of any sort for the 90 minute affair.
Sacramento Republic FC 1, Real Monarchs SLC 0
It was another vintage Sacramento Match last Wednesday from Bonney Field as they held off a side that is starting to put things together in the Monarchs. SRFC held Monarchs and player of the week Ricardo Velazco to just two and one shots on goal respectively. The goal came just after the half as James Kiffe found Adam Jahn for the finish. The teams would square off again just 4 days later from Reno Nevada, as we’ll see a little later.
New York Red Bulls II 1, Harrisburg City Islanders 0
Sean Davis scored his first goal of the season for the Bulls’ nursery team in the 7th minute, and that turned out to be all that was needed from Red Bull Arena. It was an easy finish where a parried ball left him free around the penalty spot, and he smashed it past Noble for the sole score of the match. Harrisburg’s hot-and-cold offense hit a decidedly cold front as they only managed to scrounge only a pair of shots on goal against the stingy NYRBII defense. It was their 4th straight 1-0 scoreline as they pound out results with Leicester City-level consistency, but without all the pomp and circumstance (#EmptySeatUltras). With LCFC’s disappointing result, NYRBII are poised to take over first in the East, sitting just a point behind and a game in hand over the Purples. Their next 3 matches are against Orlando, Wilmington and Rochester.
Seattle Sounders FC 2 3, Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 2
S2 fans would have been forgiven for expecting not to get any points from this fixture at Starfire last Thursday, but they were pleasantly surprised when they took the lead of the game in the 40th minute when Andy Craven converted a penalty that categorically should not have been awarded. Undaunted, VWFC2 came back to equalize on a penalty of their own in first half stoppage time (this one was legitimate). The match got pretty chippy in the latter stages of the first half, which saw a flurry of yellows and the Caps coach sent to the locker room. It took all of 33 seconds into the second half for Seattle 2 to retake the lead, even more impressive is that possession changed hands at least 4 times in those moments. 10 minutes later Sounders 2 extended their lead thanks to a great strike from Lorenzo Ramos from 25 yards out. Spencer Richey dove for it, but the ‘Caps keeper was unable to keep the wonderstrike out as it bulged the side netting. Vancouver tried to get back in it, getting a goal in the 72nd minute, but it wasn’t enough as the ‘Caps winless streak goes to 4 games after starting 6-0-2. Seattle is still second-bottom, but that didn’t matter in this game as they looked like they just wanted it more. Hopefully they can build on it going forward.
Charlotte Independence 0, Bethlehem Steel FC 1
It was another early decider in the East, this time in favor of the visiting Steel. Corey Burk got the ball in the 11th minute on a break, took a touch around Independence keeper John Berner, and slotted it past a couple of defenders trying to guard the net. The independence only managed 3 shots on goal, which is indicative of their poor run of form, having dropped 12 of the last 15 available points. With 18 points, they’re 7th in the conference, and Harrisburg is 3 spots and 2 points behind.
Charleston Battery 1, Orlando City B 2
It was a career day for Mark Ridgers in net for last Saturday, as the Orlando net minder turned away an incredible 10 of the 11 shots fired at him. OCB opened the scoring just 16 minutes into the game when Michael Cox lifted a ball over Cooper in net after getting it in the box with both space and time. Connor Donovan pushed the visitors’ lead to 2 when Pierre da Silva’s second assist was headed home in the 42nd minute. It’s unclear why Tyler Turner was sent off for OCB in first half stoppage, possibly dissent, perhaps going back and calling a foul that happened 30 seconds earlier in the OCB box, either way Charleston was awarded a PK that was subsequently converted. While Charleston dominated possession and had numerous scoring chances (23 shots in totality) they could not get any more than the one past Ridgers. Charleston falls to 6-4-3, 4th in the East while OCB continues to improve, sitting 7th at 5-6-2.
Richmond Kickers 3, Pittsburgh Riverhounds 1
Two, count ‘em, TWO first half Own Goals proved irrecoverable for the ‘Hounds. The first in the 17th minute, saw a strike deflect off of a screened defender for the Riverhounds and into their own net. Things went from bad to worse when just 3 minutes later Kicker Midfielder Brian Ownby’s shot came rang off the crossbar, off the back of Pittsburgh Keeper Horton’s hands, and into the back of his net. Hilarious, and also unfortunate. It went from worse to catastrophic when, in the 67th minute Richmond finally scored a goal of their own, when Fred Sekere’s cross from just outside the box found the head of Anthony Grant who put it far post. Pitt got one back in the 90th minute but it was too little too late. Pittsburgh is second bottom, Richmond sit 5th.
FC Cincinnati 2, FC Montreal 1
Sean Okoli got a brace last weekend against bottomfeeders FC Montreal, and one of those was a Pen, so it doesn’t count. Sorry, those are the rules. And they let in a goal to Montreal, so really it should be a loss by my calculations. On top of that FCM squandered an absolute sitter when a good display of teamwork and intelligent passing found Montreal man Alessandro Riggi with an open goal after Hildebrandt was out of position and Riggi put it over the crossbar. In added time, Mastanabal Kacher drove a volley past a diving Hildebrandt from the top of the box to get one back for FCM, but it was another case of not enough, not in time. FCC are a game up and 4 points behind LCFC, FC Montreal are not.
Toronto FC II 2, Rochester Rhinos 1
Rochester lost their 3rd match of the season on Saturday night in Ontario when TFCII scored twice in the last 15 minutes of the game to preclude Rochester from gaining any sort of result. Indeed, Toronto opened the scoring in the 74th minute and again in the beginning of stoppage. Rochester got one back 2 minutes into injury time, but they would get no closer as their record falls to 5-3-3, good for just 6th. TFCII’s 5 game winless run ends, but they’re just 3-7-3, 3rd bottom in the East.
St Louis FC 7, Tulsa Roughnecks FC 1; Tulsa’s Dignity, -12
I can go into it, but there’s not much point. Here’s the scoring summary
4’ – STL – Seth Rudolph (Irvin Herrera)
17’ – STL – Irvin Herrera (James Musa)
38’ – STL – Jamiel Hardware (Irvin Herrera)
50’ – STL – Seth Rudolph (James Musa)
52’ – STL – Irvin Herrera (Richard Dixon)
76’ – STL – Jordan Roberts (Takada)
78’ – STL – Vince Cicciarelli (Jamiel Hardware)
85’ – TUL – Jasson Ramos Carpio (Adriano Pellegrino)
If you’re keeping track at home, that’s a brace for both Irvin Herrera and Seth Rudolph, 2 assists for both Herrera and James Musa and 6 players involved with a goal for St Louis. Herrera has 8 goals now on the year, 4th in the League. A 7 goal haul is not the most in league history, surprisingly. That distinction goes to a now-defunct club, VSI Tampa Bay (of which Sean Reynolds was a part of), who demolished now-defunct Antigua Barracuda 8-0 back in 2013. StLFC got 23 shots, 15 on goal. All the numbers are just silly, especially Tulsa’s record which is 2-9-1- worst in the West, as is their 28 goals allowed on the year. Saint Louis are 6th in the West, 5-4-4 and just 3 points out of first. I would like to take this moment to remember the loss of Tulsa’s dignity, gone too soon.
Portland Timbers 2 1, San Antonio FC 1
There was early scoring and late scoring in this one, but not much in between. Scoring opened 16 minutes into the match when a Carlos Alvarez deflected a Timbers 2 corner into his own net. Fast forward to the 82nd minute, Timbers forward Kharlton Belmar found himself on a breakaway, around the last defender only to take too strong of a touch and crash dangerously into San Antonio keeper Josh Ford, injuring him and earning himself an early shower. Carlos Alvarez redeemed himself when his 87th minute corner kick found a running Milton Palacios to steal a point in Portland. Timbers 2 are still 7th at 5-6-1, and SAFC are 3rd bottom at 2-5-5.
Los Angeles Galaxy II 0, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC 0
In a clash between these top teams from the West, the clubs had to settle for a point apiece in a scoreless draw. Both teams had good opportunities to score, but the biggest chance for a winner came in the 53rd minute when LA front man and USL leading goal scorer Jack McBean had a shot from 18 yards out beat the keeper, only to come back off the upright. In the end, both teams will settle for the point atop the very congested Western Conference. Colorado Springs stay top at 23 points from 11 games, and the 3 teams below them (of which LAII is one) all have 22 points, but have all played more games as well. Things are really heating up out West, should make for a fun run to the playoffs.
Sacramento Republic FC 2, Real Monarchs SLC 1
It was a second win in 4 days, both over the Monarchs for Sacremento. This one came from a neutral field in Reno, Nevada- home to 2017 expansion side “Reno 1868 FC.” Yes, they’re actually calling it that (FACT: with Nashville, Reno, and San Antonio among the recent new clubs, the USL is actually expanding faster than the universe). At any rate, the game featured a goal by Ricardo Velazco for the Monarchs, as they took the lead in the 42nd minute. Sacramento battled back however, netting one less than 90 seconds into the second half and another in the 55th minute to take all 3 points from the second neutral-site game in as many weeks for the League. SRFC are 5th, a point off of the 4-team gaggle that are on 22 points. Real Monarchs are just outside of playoff contention in 9th, with 16 points from 14 games.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 3, Swope Park Rangers 2
Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2’s leading goal-scorer from a year ago Marco Bustos finally opened his 2016 goal-scoring account, and he did so with authority. Bustos tallied two goals in the first 23 minutes as WFC2 held on late to defeat the Swope Park Rangers 3-2 on Sunday at UBC Thunderbird Stadium. Vancouver’s 15-year-old prodigy Alphonso Davies tallied in the 80th minute, a crisp left-footed strike into the upper left of the frame, for his second tally of the year and ultimately the game-winner. Vancouver ended a two-game skid after it had opened league play with a 6-0-4 record. WFC2 moved ahead of Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC and back into sole possession of first place in the Western Conference with a 7-2-4 record and 25 points. Swope falls to 4-6-2 (14 points), but the side made things incredibly interesting at the close with late goals from Mark Anthony Gonzalez and Kris Tyrpak. Vancouver goalkeeper Marco Carducci was the savior at the end, making a glove save that ricocheted off of the left post to help his side grab the three points on the final sequence of the game. Courtesy USLsoccer.com