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The USL Kickabout: September 5, 2016

It was a procedural week in the United Soccer League. There weren’t any real upsets, but the playoff race is heating up. Things are getting tight as far as seeding is concerned in the East as the top 7 teams have booked a spot in the postseason. The West is going to go down to the wire as 14 teams are still mathematically eligible for the post-season. Cincy lost! StLFC drew, but for all intents and purposes they’re finished.

Charlotte Independence 3, FC Cincinnati 2

Cincinnati opened play up in strong fashion last Wednesday at Ramblewood in Charlotte. The Knifey Soccer Lions probably had at least 65% possession and earned a couple of set pieces from dangerous positions, but failing to convert. The first goal of the game came in the 11th minute after Brian Brown was taken down in the box by Harrison Delbridge. Enzo Martniez converted the spot kick after initially being saved by a reinstated Hildebrandt.

FCC got right back into their familiar pressing style, however. They quickly bagged an equalizer when Alvaro Ripoli cleverly picked out Andrew Wiedeman’s run. Wideman lifted it over a charging John Berner in between the posts. Enzo Martinez netted his brace less than 4 minutes later after he corralled a haphazardly cleared ball following a corner, and took a shot from 25 yards out that found the back of Hildebrandt’s net. FCC saw more of the ball in the remainder of the half, but failed to seriously challenge Berner’s goal.

The game really started to get chippy in the second half. The referee issued a raft of yellows, 9 on the night in all. The next goal came by the hand of Okoli, but the real work was done when Omar Mohamed played a fantastic ball to Wiedeman in on the left wing to unlock the defense. Wiedeman lofted it into Okoli who finished it with a good header.

Bilal Duckett earned himself an early shower in the 79th minute when he committed and ill-advised aerial challenge on Okoli. FCC looked to bolster their play with the man advantage, but it was Charlotte who looked to have galvanized after losing the fullback. 5 minutes later they got a dangerous free kick from 35 yards out, and Herrera played a driven ball into the Cincy box that may have been deflected, judging on how defenseless Hildebrandt looked. The home team battened down the hatches and parked what was left of the bus to seal the victory.

Richmond Kickers 1, Charleston Battery 1

These two sides  were already into the dance, but seeding is still very much up in the air. Charleston held much of the early possession, although Richmond had a couple forays into Battery territory. Richmond took over the match as it passed the quarter hour mark. The teams traded salvos but the first real chance didn’t come until the 30th minute when Battery keeper Alex Tambakis turned away a Kickers’ shot from a narrow angle. The teams remained in a deadlock through the intermission.

Richmond came out of the locker room looking a team determined. After a lengthy pause for an injured Battery player, the Kickers pressed up high. They ceded some possession to Charleston but fought hard nonetheless. The stalemate was broken in entertaining fashion when an enterprising ball was played by Richmond midfielder and Ghanan national Owusu Sekere into the box where Anthony Grant took it down and blasted it far post by Tambakis. Despite their innumerable shots and half chances, Charleston’s sole score came off of a supremely struck set piece by Justin Portillo just outside the box that evaded both the 5-man wall and the keeper. Each team got a few more chances, but nothing as substantial as the squad’s respective goals.

Charleston Battery 1, Rochester Rhinos 2 courtesy USLSoccer.com

Bakayoko Gaoussou’s first goal as a Rochester Rhinos proved the difference as the visitors took a 2-1 victory against the Charleston Battery at MUSC Health Stadium on Saturdady night. Rochester had the early chances in the game, but the Battery took the lead in the 15th minute after a handball in the Rhinos’ penalty area allowed Justin Portillo to score off a penalty kick to the left corner. Rochester responded well, however, and tied the game 10 minutes later as Christian Volesky sent a turning shot home for his 10th goal of the season. Charleston almost regained the lead two minutes into the second half as O’Brian Woodbine’s fierce shot was tipped onto the crossbar by Rhinos goalkeeper Tomas Gomez, and Battery goalkeeper Alex Tambakis denied a point-blank chance for Volesky soon after as the game remained level. The Rhinos grabbed the lead with nine minutes to go, however, when Bakayoko Gaoussou sent home a low finish after Tambakis had made a good initial save. The Battery escaped going down by two goals when Taylor Mueller cleared a chance off the line moments later, but there was no late comeback for the hosts as the Rhinos held firm to take all three points.

Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC 3, LA Galaxy 2 0 courtesy of USLSoccer.com

Mike Seth scored a pair of goals to lead Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC to a 3-0 victory against the LA Galaxy II on Saturday night at Switchbacks Stadium. The Switchbacks’ Saeed Robinson and Seth almost combined to open the scoring in the eighth minute as Seth’s header went over the crossbar, but two minutes later the powerful forward made no mistake to make it 1-0. LA’s Adonis Amaya almost equalized in the 19th minute, only to send his shot over the crossbar, and both sides had chances go just wide off set pieces as the half went on in front of an energized crowd. Colorado Springs doubled its lead in first-half stoppage time, however, as Seth rose to head home a corner by Luke Vercollone. The Switchbacks captain added a third just before the hour-mark as he put home cross by Jordan Burt, and while the Galaxy II tried to get back into the game in the final half-hour, they were unable to cut into the Switchbacks’ lead as Colorado Springs took an impressive victory.

LA have picked up just 4 of the last 21 available points, notching just a 6-14 goal differential good for just 6th in the West. COS on the other hand have won 3 of their last 5 and sit 3rd in conference.

Swope Park Rangers 0, Rio Grande Valley FC 2

RGV looked to be cruising home after taking an early advantage, but University of Kentucky product Callum Irving was called upon late to save a PK, which he did admirably. RGV’s offense is smooth as butter and they score at will. They’re on an unbelievable run of form, this result is their 5th win in as many contests. They’ve conceded just once in that span. They are hot at the right time, and the last 4 games see them play no team better than 6th in conference. RGV are 2 points behind Sacramento with a game in hand, so it’s all to play for.