Stadium debuts were the topic of the week with NASL San Antonio opening the brand-new 8,000-seat Toyota Field and USL Pro Pittsburgh marking the debut of 4,000-seat Highmark Stadium.
North American Soccer League
Things are loosening up a little bit after an opening weekend of draws last week. This week there were no draws, including in Atlanta where the previously idle Silverbacks were four minutes away from completing the trend of season-opening ties before they found the back of the net not only once, but twice. A pair of Cal FC products were the difference makers with defender Beto Navarro getting on the end of a long throw-in from fellow defender Shane Moroney for the opening goal. Then two minutes later his Cal FC teammate Danny Berrera finished off a counter attack.
As for the opening of Toyota Field - which had a number of empty seats visible despite the sold-out status, the reigning league champion Tampa Bay Rowdies spoiled the occasion with a goal in each half as Amani Walker buried a Luke Mulholland corner 13 minutes in and Georgi Hristov converting from the spot in the 71st.
Though they weren’t opening the stadium for the first time, the Carolina RailHawks were celebrating their newly renovated, mostly for expansion, stadium and came away with the three points though FC Edmonton nearly picked up another draw on the road. Level at the break, Austin da Luz headed in a Ty Shipalane cross seven minutes into the second half and Brian Shriver made it two with a fantastic free kick from 20 yards . After an earlier Michael Cox shot hit the frame, Massimo Mirabelli spoiled the shutout in the 90th minute, giving the Eddies a last glimmer of hope, but it proved too late.
Scoring Summaries / Ejections
Edmonton 1 :: 2 Carolina [Attd: 5,033]
CAR: Austin da Luz (Ty Shipalane) 52, Brian Shriver 71
FCE: Massimo Mirabelli 90
Tampa Bay 2 :: 0 San Antonio [Attd: 8,177]
TB: Amani Walker (Luke Mulholland) 13, Georgi Hristov 56
Fort Lauderdale 0 :: 2 Atlanta [Attd: 5,402]
ATL: Beto Navarro (Shane Moroney) 86, Danny Barrera (Milton Blanco) 88
Believe it or not, the LA Blues are sitting atop the table after four games, htough most other teams have yet to play two. The Blues pushed their record to 3-1 with a pair of victories this week, beginning with a midweek showdown with defending two-time regular season champion Orlando City. The new-look Blues built by Warren Barton battled the heavyweights in a stalemate until George Davis IV broke through in the 80th minute for his second goal of the year in a narrow win. On Sunday, they made it a season sweep of their regional foe Phoenix FC with another two-goal victory over the Wolves. A pair of early goals from Nelson Pizarro and Cory Miller pushed the Blues out to a two-goal lead after a quarter of an hour. A tally from Scott Morrison pulled the hosts back in it in the 68th, but Sergio Ortiz reestablished the margin nine minutes later.
Orlando returned home to face the Rochester Rhinos Sunday in what turned out to be an eventful night. Two lightning delays under a scoreless scenario in the first half were followed by a four-goal contest in which the hosts took a three-goal lead over the visitors. Long Tan scored just before the break and Dom Dwyer scored two minutes into the second half to put the Rhinos, who fell 3-0 the night before to Tampa Bay, in a deep hole. Jamie Watson made it three in the 62nd minute with Blake Brettschneider merely spoiling the shutout as he put the Rhinos on the board for the first time for the season in the 90th minute. It was a similar story for Rochester the night before as they allowed goals on either side of the break. Tampa Bay’s Karamba Janneh scored in the 45th and Douglas Dos Santos doubled the margin four minutes into the second stanza with Andriy Budnny wrapping up the scoring.
Similar to San Antonio, the opening night at Highmark for the Riverhounds was bittersweet. A stalemate with their state rival Harrisburg went into the latter stages before the hosts saw Jose Angulo score the first-ever goal at the new facility with 20 minutes left. The celebration, however, lasted only eight minutes before Sainey Tourey scored a fantastic goal on a run into the box finished with a nice shot slipped through the keeper’s legs. Then, in the final moments as fans were preparing to enjoy a point and a fireworks show, disaster struck. Ironically-named Lucky Mkosana found the back of the net on the volley off a Christhian Hernandez cross in the 90th minute.
In the surprise result of the weekend, the defending champion Charleston Battery, who had an excellent preseason against MLS opposition, came out with a thud in Richmond. The Kickers jumped out to a two-goal lead thanks to recent signee Joseph Ngwenya in the 23rd and DC loanee Casey Townsend nine minutes later. Defender John Wilson scored a rare tally just before the half to pull the Battery back within one, but Townsend added a second in the 68th and an own goal sealed the deal with three minutes left.
Elsewhere, Antigua Barracuda acquitted themselves quite well despite coming together literally in the past two weeks without any real training sessions, but fell 2-0 at Charlotte in the first of their road-only 2013 schedule.
Scoring Summaries / Ejections
Orlando 0 :: 1 Los Angeles [Attd: 207]
LA: George Davis IV 80
Harrisburg 2 :: 1 Pittsburgh [Attd: 4000]
PIT: Jose Angulo (Matt Dallman) 70
HAR: Sainey Tourey (Jamiel Hardware) 78, Lucky Mkosana (Chrishtian Hernandez) 90
Antigua 0 :: 2 Charlotte [Attd: 932]
CHE: Nate Thornton 27, Christian Ramirez 85
Charleston 1 :: 4 Richmond [Attd: 2497]
RIC: Joseph Ngwenya (Alex Lee) 23, Casey Townsend (Brian Ownby) 32, Townsend (Stanley Nyazamba) 68, CHB own goal (Kenneth Ellison) 87
CHB: John Wilson (Jose Cuevas) 45
Rochester 0 :: 3 Tampa Bay [Attd: NA]
TB: Karamba Janneh 45, Douglas Dos Santos 49, Andriy Budnny 74
Rochester 1 :: 3 Orlando [Attd: 6351]
ORL: Long Tan 45, Dom Dwyer (Bryan Burke) 47, Jamie Watson 62
ROC: Blake Brettschneider 90
Los Angeles 3 :: 1 Phoenix [Attd: 1867]
LA: Nelson Pizarro (Matt Hall) 7, Cory Miller (Alan Russell) 15, Sergio Valle-Ortiz 77
PHO: Scott Morrison 68
MLS Reserve League
It was a light week for the Reserve League, which will have six games in the next week, including two against USL Pro opposition. The lone contest was dominated by the host Whitecaps. Tommy Heinemann played a key role with a shot hitting the frame in the early going and his 44th-minute header falling to Jordan Harvey for the finish after being blocked. Erik Hurtado finished off the match with an excellent individual play in which he beat two defenders before sending his effort past veteran keeper Josh Saunders with five minutes left.
RSL 0 :: 2 Vancouver [Attd: 277]
VAN: Jordan Harvey 44, Erik Hurtado 85
MLS AFFILIATE / LOAN WATCH
In Richmond, DC United’s Casey Townsend struck for a brace in the Kickers’ big win against the Charleston Battery as he played 89. His teammates from affiliate DC – Taylor Kemp, Conor Shanosky and goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra – also made starts, as did Houston’s Brian Ownby, who played 74 minutes and had an assist on Townsend’s first goal.
Philadelphia Union loanees helped lead the City Islanders to the comeback win in Pittsburgh. Greg Jordan and Christhian Hernandez both started with the latter providing an assist on the 90th minute winner. Jimmy McLaughlin came off the bench in the second half.
Meanwhile, Rochester’s foursome from New England all saw action in the two road losses. Gabe Latigue started both, but came out after 37 minutes in Orlando while Bilal Duckett played the full 180. Tyler Polak started against Tampa Bay and came off the bench against Orlando while Matt Horth came off the bench in both matches.
Vancouver defender Carlyle Mitchell was the lone loan in the NASL to see action, playing the full match for Edmonton at Carolina.
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