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The Kickabout: May 23, 2016

It was another entertaining weekend around the United Soccer League as long as you weren’t watching the Louisville City game. The weekend featured a lot of goals and several strong individual performances, with 5 players scoring 2 or more across the league. Because of the US Open Cup fixtures, there were no league games this past week, so we’ll be jumping straight into the action on Friday.

Portland Timbers 2 1, Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 3

In an exhibition of how they’ve earned their spot on the top of the table, the Whitecaps’ reserve side came out strong, early at Providence Park last Friday night. A deflected shot within the first minute of proceedings rendered T2 keeper Kendall McIntosh helpless as Kyle Grieg put the visitors ahead. A spectacular free kick goal from 20 yards out via Abdul Fatawu’s right foot doubled the lead for the visitors just 16 minutes later. A ‘Caps defensive error in their own box paved the way to a goal for the Timbers 2 in the 27th minute. After coming out of the break, the match continued in its up-and-down fashion it had been played in for the first half. A Whitecaps goal in the 74th minute sealed the fate of this competition, Timbers looked beat after that. The result keeps the Whitecaps 2 record unbeaten at 6-0-2. At 20 points, they’re a point behind Lou City, although they’ve got 2 games in hand. T2 falls to 3-6-1, good for 9th. They’ve played at least 1 more game than anyone else around them, they need to recover and get back to the form they’ve found of late. On a related note, Grieg is tied with Jack McBean of LA Galaxy II with 9 goals on the season. Chandler Hoffman is next on the list at 7.

FC Montreal 0, New York Red Bulls II 1

The Red Bulls just barely snuck a win out in Montreal last Saturday. I mean real skin-of-the-teeth stuff. Junior Flemmings nodded home the winner in the beginning of added time. Eric Kroneberg in net for FCM had played well up to that point, but it is the opinion of the writer that he should have saved this particular shot. It’s fate, Montreal. In interest of full disclosure, Montreal came dangerously close to equalizing moments after the ensuing kickoff, but it was not to be. New York build on their impressive perfect record on the road and improve to 5-1-3 overall on the year, second in the East. Montreal is pointless.

Pittsburgh Riverhounds 2, Toronto FC II 1

Despite snagging his first win on the year with a sub-par squad, Coach Mark Steffens failed to hang on to his job at the helm of the ‘Hounds, announcing his sacking after the match. The game itself featured a hectic last half-hour from Highmark Stadium on the banks of the Monongahela. The scoring did not open until the 67th minute, when a quickly taken corner by the Riverhounds caught out TFCII, and Lebo Moloto curled a shot that evaded Toronto keeper Quillan Roberts’ grasp. The hosts doubled their lead less than 4 minutes later, after a sweetly struck ball from Corey Herzog found the upper 90 of Roberts’ net. The visitors clawed one back less than 10 minutes from the end, but ‘twas not enough to earn anything from this match. It was an ample performance from the Riverhounds, who notch their first win of the season. They’re still second-bottom, and TFCII are just 2 spots ahead of them as the wheat starts to separate itself from the chaff in the East.

Wilmington Hammerheads FC 0, Charleston Battery 1

It was a boring and cagey match for the most part from Legion Field last Saturday night. The only goal came from a corner in the 33rd minute that found 6-foot-5 Battery Defender Shawn Ferguson’s head and subsequently the back of Wilmington’s net. Wilmington didn’t especially look as if they were going to equalize, but any hope was put to bed when Hammerhead Midfielder Liam Miller brought down the counterattacking Dante Marini, unintentionally but it earned him a straight red. The Battery put their 3 match winning streak and 30 match (!) home unbeaten record on the line next Saturday when Lou City come to town. The Battery are level on points with second place NY Red Bulls II, after taking 18 points from 10 matches. The Hammerheads are in a much different situation at 2-4-3, and 10th in the conference.

Tulsa Roughnecks FC 2, Saint Louis FC 5

StLFC came out strong at ONEOK Field last Saturday and hung a 5-spot on bottomfeeder Tulsa, helped by Irvin Herrera’s 4 goal haul. The scoring started in the 10th minute as an inch-perfect cross found Irvin Herrera’s noggin, and then the goal. Despite going down to 10 men early (17th minute), Tulsa rallied and scored 2 before the half to take a goal advantage into the break. StLFC seemingly had a fire lit under them in the second half, and they really focused and found the holes in Tulsa’s defense. 8 minutes into the second half, the man advantage finally came good as Herrera got on the end of a headed cross in the Roughneck’s box. I don’t really need to go into much more detail here. Saint Louis is pretty good, Tulsa is not. Saint Louis is currently 4th in the West, although that doesn’t mean much as all the teams around them have played differing amounts of matches. Tulsa is second bottom at 2-7-1.

Rio Grande Valley FC 4, Swope Park Rangers 1

RGV scored early and often last Saturday out in the valley, initiated in the 13th minute by a tidy Memo Rodriguez effort, courtesy of Jose Escalante. Rodriguez doubled his money 14 minutes later when he got on the end of a TJ Casher pass. Swope Park got back into this one 5 minutes away from the break to leave some hope of earning something away from home, which were to be dashed by Robbie Lovejoy in the beginning of added time. Emilio Garcia added another for the hosts a minute later. RGV sit 5th with 14 points form 8 matches, and SPR fall to 10th at 3-4-1.

San Antonio FC 0, OKC Energy FC 1

A looping cross from Sebastian Dalgaard on the corner of SAFC’s box in the 59th minute that found the bandaged head of Colin Bonner who buried the effort proved to be all the scoring that was needed to decide this one from Toyota Field. It was a pretty cagey match, one in which teams quickly resorted to trying long shots. The result sees the two teams move to right next to each other in the standings at 11th and 12th, with OKC holding a point as well as a pair of games in hand over the newcomers in the West.

Real Monarchs SLC 3, Orange County Blues 1

A brace as well as an assist from former UofL man Ricardo Velazco saw the Monarchs make good on a comeback win last Saturday. The OCB goal came in the 6th minute as Dusan Stavanovic scored his first goal of the season for the Blues, who took the goal advantage into halftime. The Monarchs came out strong, scoring 2 goals off of set pieces 10 minutes apart in the second half (50’, 59’). All the momentum was with the home team as the game ticked over the hour mark. Velazco scored his second and most impressive goal in the 69th minute as he took on the OCB defense, dribbling by a few defenders before slotting it into Brandon Miller’s net. OCB’s slide continues, now 0-2-1 since their 3 match winning run, and 3-4-2 on the season. Real Monarchs are in a similar situation at 3-3-3 on the year.

Arizona United SC 1, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC 3

Colorado Springs took an early lead away from home in the 8th minute from a Josh Suggs Olympico (!). Arizona proceeded in the 21st minute to score off of a corner of their own, albeit by more boring foot-to-head-to-net means. Miguel Gonzalez recaptured the lead for the visitors in the 33rd minute when he halted his run with the ball in the Arizona box, and wafted a curling ball past the United keeper. Saeed Robinson put things beyond all doubt for the Switchbacks in the 77th minute. CS move into second in the West, just a pair of points behind (and level on games) leaders Vancouver. Arizona are 3rd bottom at 2-4-3.

Harrisburg City Islanders 3, Bethlehem Steel FC 1

In an explosive display of their hot-and-cold play, Harrisburg got out fast and hard against the Steel, which saw Aaron Wheeler net a brace within 16 minutes of the opening whistle for the Islanders. Taken aback, the Steel failed to mount any sizeable offensive threat. The goal for the visitors came off of a Islanders own goal, precipitated by a dangerous Leo Fernandes free kick for the Steel. Wheeler added an assist to his stat line in the 66th minute on a Bobby Warshaw goal for the Islanders. The Steel’s offense (and defense for that matter) simply didn’t show up, only putting 2 shots on goal. Harrisburg City on the other hand positively peppered the opposition, turning 11 of 15 shots on goal, forcing John McCarthy into 8 saves. Neither team have a particularly strong record in league play, Harrisburg are 3-5-1, and BSFC are 3-3-3.

Orlando City B 2, Rochester Rhinos 1

In one of the more surprising results you’ll see, Rochester fell at Orlando City B on Sunday. Chalk it up to the Rhinos phoning it in, and a Hadji Barry brace. OCB spreading it out to the flanks is what found them the most success in this affair, as well as Barry’s individual acumen on the ball. Both of Barry’s goals came in the run of play, and Rochester’s PK awarded just minutes from the final whistle proved to be a non-factor. Rochester falls to 4-2-2 on the year and are on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, at 7th place. OCB is 3-5-2 and 9th in the conference.