USL Matchday 4 roundup
It was a notable weekend of action for the league, especially out in the west, which saw a number of sub-par teams earn valuable points against unbeaten teams. All in all, 4 teams earned their first points of the season, and 4 teams lost for their first time.
Western Conference teams took to the pitch in a pair of mid-week matchups first:
Seattle Sounders FC 2 2, Rio Grande Valley FC 2
A total of 28 shots in this affair yielded a 2-all score line after 90 minutes. 36 total fouls by the two teams also meant that several names were taken, 4 in all-yet none were booked twice. This result gave Sounders 2 their first point from 4 matches, and RGVFC goes 1-1-1 on the season.
LA Galaxy II 1, San Antonio FC 1
A match which didn’t see a shot registered until the 18th minute became a conservative competition where neither side wanted to concede any opportunities. A missed penalty call in the 22nd minute denied LA from taking an early lead. Galaxy II captain Jack McBean went on to put the hosts in front in the 40th minute from a tidy Josh Turnley grounded cross. Los Dos looked to have dealt SAFC their first loss in their brief existence, but Carlos Alvarez got his foot on a loose ball in the LA box in the 89th minute, rescuing a point via the underside of the crossbar. San Antonio goes to 1-0-2 on the season, and LA has now taken 9 points from 5 matches, netting 10 goals along the way.
Real Monarchs SLC 0, Arizona United SC 1
The undefeated start to the Real Monarchs’ season was put to bed Friday night at picturesque Clyde Field, by way of a Tyler Blackwood goal. Only 3 shots on goal by the Monarchs meant they didn’t have much chance to get into the action, and it always felt like a single goal was going to decide this one. It may have been their first loss of the season, but taking 7 points from 4 matches is nothing for RMSLC to turn their noses up at. 6 from 5 matches for Arizona indicates they may need some more of these results to get their season on track for the playoffs.
Charlotte Independence 3, Charleston Battery 2
Charlotte looked to have won this one easily, scoring in the 26th, 31st, and 70th minute, but Charleston was not going gently into that good night. They clawed one back in the 75th minute, and were looking potent as Charlotte looked to have checked out. Charleston Midfielder Zach Prince garnered a straight red after a brazen stomping tackle in the 83rd minute. Undeterred, Charleston netted another in the 86th minute, and had several opportunities to level late. This was a fun one to watch, 30 shots, 32 fouls, and 5 bookings attest to this game’s competitive nature.
Orlando City B 0, Harrisburg City Islanders 1
Harrisburg City earned their first points of the league campaign at OCB Saturday night, helped by two sending offs of OCB midfielders Antonio Rocha and Lewis Neal in the 40th and 91st minutes respectively. Harrisburg took advantage at the hour mark, and that proved to be all they would need. Islanders goalkeeper Nick Noble was called upon only once in the match, as OCB only managed to register a grand total of two shots. The result gives Islanders 3 points on the season and OCB has gotten just 1 point from 3 matches.
St Louis FC 0, Tulsa Roughnecks FC 0
This St. Louis home opener may have ended scoreless, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. A line of 7 shots for Tulsa and 11 for StLFC, as well as 4 and 6 turned on goal respectively. The St. Louis offense, who has netted 5 goals in the last 2 matches, was stifled by Tulsa, who seemed content with shutting down shop and taking the point. The point brings St Louis to 1-2-2 on the season and Tulsa improves to 1-2-1 on the year.
Orange County Blues FC 1, San Antonio FC 0
San Antonio’s unbeaten start to their inaugural USL effort came to a close at Anteater stadium Saturday night. A single 38th minute penalty was all it took to decide things in this contest. Former Rochester keeper Brandon Miller turned in a 5 save performance for the Blues, who came up with 4 shots on goal themselves. Orange County Blues earned their first win of the season, and have taken 4 from 4. San Antonio have 5 points from 4 matches.
Wilmington Hammerheads 2, FC Montreal 0
Goals in the 6th and 58th minute saw Wilmington notch their second win of the year, and FC Montreal remain point-less in their campaign. By all accounts, Wilmington’s defense played a big part in turning away Montreal’s attack, and turning that into formidable counterattacks.
Bethlehem Steel FC 2, Richmond Kickers 1
The Steel got off to a quick start, netting a goal in the 22nd minute courtesy of Eric Ayuk. It was Ayuk again involving himself in the Steel’s second goal, assisting Jones in the 46th minute. Yudai Imura scored moments after for the Kickers, although his goal would go on to prove meaningless in the end of their undefeated start. Bethlehem have taken 6 points from four matches, while Richmond are 2-1-1 and have earned 7 points on the season.
New York Red Bulls II 0, Rochester Rhinos 0
Despite having to sub on a keeper after Ryan Meara came off in the 9th minute with an injury, NYRBII kept Rochester off the board thanks to 5 saves from Rafael Diaz. After a scuffle in the final moments from Red Bull Arena, Rochester striker Steevan dos Santos received a straight red. NYRBII go second in the east (behind LouCity) with 8 points from 4 matches and an unbeaten record, and Rochester continue an underwhelming start to their title defense with a 1-1-1 record.
Toronto FC II 2, Pittsburgh RIverhounds 2
Toronto II opened play in their new complex with an underwhelming draw to an underperforming Riverhounds side. TFCII opened the scoring in the 12th minute, thanks to a headed goal from a corner. Pittsburgh leveled in the 41st minute, from a nice bit of teamwork between Herzog and Parkes for the Riverhounds. Toronto’s Raheem Edwards drew a PK and thusly converted in the 56th minute. A stoppage time free kick from just outside the 18-yard box for Pittsburgh proved dangerous as the four man wall was not enough to keep out the Branson effort. Keeper Alex Bono’s 6-foot-3 frame was not enough to reach the effort. Toronto remains unbeaten at 1-0-2, and Pittsburgh has to make due with a 0-1-2 record.
Portland Timbers 2 1, Sacramento Republic FC 0
There were no match stats online, but I can report that there was a goal for Portland and a red card for Sacramento. A goal in the 46th minute for Timbers 2 snaps a three and a half match clean sheet for the Republic. Sacramento forward Adam John made a dangerous lunge for the ball at Timbers 2 keeper Wade Hamilton in the 74th minute, which earned him an early shower. Portland earned its first points of the season (1-3-0) and SRFC fall to 2-1-1.
Seattle Sounders 2 1, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC 0
Seattle finally managed to open their points account late Sunday night at home against Colorado Springs thanks to an Aaron Kovar penalty kick goal in the first half. There aren’t any stats available for this game, either, but it marks the first defeat of Colorado Springs’ season, which had picked up where it left off in 2015. Seattle, meanwhile, had until recently been fairly awful, but the friendly confines of Starfire Stadium and an enthusiastic fan base likely spurred S2 on to victory.