Monday, July 1, 2013

Lower Division Recap: Round 13

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It was a monumental week that, however, ended up, arguably falling a little flat. Well, that is if you were the two league leaders in the NASL and USL Pro. Both were facing marquee US Open Cup moments and had key league clashes the following weekend and both the Carolina RailHawks and Orlando City saw everything virtually go up in flames.

US Open Cup Quarterfinals

With a chance to clinch the NASL Spring title on Saturday against visiting Atlanta, the RailHawks took a page out of the MLS playbook and sat a number of their key players on the road against Real Salt Lake and were promptly eliminated, 3-0, Wednesday night. Orlando City, on the other hand, gave the Chicago Fire quite a fight only to see things completely unravel in the second half as they were knocked out to the tune of a 5-1 defeat in which they finished with nine players. Full coverage at [+]

Carolina 0 :: 3 Real Salt Lake
RSL: Tony Beltran (Alvaro Saborio) 35
RSL: Chris Wingert 50
RSL: Alvaro Saborio (Ned Grabavoy) 85

Orlando City 1 :: 5 Chicago Fire
CHI: Chris Rolfe (Dilly Duka)  6
ORL: Rob Valentino 51
CHI: Patrick Nyarko 59
CHI: Chris Rolfe (Jeff Larentowicz) 63
CHI: Mike Magee (Maicon Santos) 83
CHI: Joel Lindpere (Mike Magee) 90+

North American Soccer League

All eyes were in North Carolina with the RailHawks and Silverbacks squaring off in the pivotal Spring title contender showdown. Despite having some of the earlier chances in the contest, the RailHawks allowed Atlanta to hang around and after an hour had passed the visitors found some fortune when Danny Barrera sent the ball into the box from the far right flank. Pedro Mendes rose and connected for a slight, glancing header at the near corner of the six, dropping the ball to the feet of Bobby Reiss, who tapped it in from point-blank range in the 63rd. Just when it looked like the Silverbacks were going to move back atop the table, an Austin da Luz corner in the 89th minute found the head of Ciaran O’Brien for the equalizer.

The southern rivals, however, are not the only contenders for the title. Don’t look now but the once believed to be dead San Antonio Scorpions have put together a stunning winning streak to move within reach of the Spring title if all goes their way in the final weekend. After drubbing former cellar dwelling associates Fort Lauderdale Strikers 4-1 Saturday, the 2012 regular season champions can now finish, if Atlanta fails to win their final game, tied at the top in points and take the title IF they defeat the RailHawks by three or more goals in the finale. That will provide plenty of Independence Day drama with Atlanta kicking off a half-hour earlier in Minnesota Thursday evening.

As for Minnesota, the team that raided San Antonio over the offseason for all of its top players, well they lost again, allowing FC Edmonton, who finished the season with a bang, to pull even with them in the table for sixth. A victory in the finale could still put Minnesota as high as third, however, as the table remains quite compact. In fact, should Carolina win the final match, only nine points will separate first from sixth with the difference potentially being as low as six.

Scoring Summaries / Ejections

Atlanta 1 :: 1 Carolina 
ATL: Bobby Reiss (Pedro Mendes, Danny Barrera) 63
CAR: Austin da Luz (Ciaran O'Brien) 89
~ ATL: Beto Navarro (ejection) 90+

San Antonio 4 :: 1 Fort Lauderdale 
FTL: Darnell King 11
SA: Eriq Zavaleta (Hans Denissen) 35, Hans Denissen (Stephen DeRoux) 56, Kevin Harmse (Eriq Zavaleta) 67, Bryan Jordan (Fabrice Noel) 90

Minnesota 1 :: 3 Edmonton 
EDM: Mallan Roberts (Neil Hlavaty) 11, Daryl Fordyce (Shaun Saiko) 24, Neil Hlavaty (pen) 86
MIN: Miguel Ibarra (Justin Davis) 68


After a two-week hiatus, Orlando City returned to league play and it just turned out to not be their week. After falling Wednesday in the Open Cup, the club learned they were losing their leading scorer Dom Dwyer with affiliate Sporting Kansas City recalling him from his loan permanently. That was compounded by the other roster move the MLS club made as they waived defender Yann Songo’o, which subsequently cancelled out his loan as well. Having previously looked invincible at the top of the table, Orlando now looks mortal, dropping their Saturday contest, 2-0, against the Richmond Kickers at home, essentially closing the gap between them and the other contenders, including the still unbeaten Kickers, who went on to play to a scoreless draw at Tampa Bay the following night.

The other big story of the weekend was another pair of wins against MLS Reserve Teams in interleague play. The Charlotte Eagles and Wilmington Hammerheads both rallied on the road for 2-1 victories, defeating the Chicago Fire Reserves and New York Red Bulls Reserves, respectively. The two wins brings USL season record in interleague play against the MLS Reserves to an impressive 8-3-8 with a unbeaten run of seven games.

Scoring Summaries / Ejections

Charlotte 2 :: 2 Dayton 
CHE: Christian Ramirez (Jorge Herrera) 22, Jorge Herrera (Stephen Okai) 62
DAY: Joel DeLass NA, Shane Smith (Brandon Swartzendruber) 85

Phoenix 1 :: 2 Harrisburg
HAR: Yann Ekra (Sainey Touray) 14, Sainey Touray (Tom Mellor) 73
PHO: Isaiah Shafer (Reid Schmitt) 36

Phoenix 0 :: 0 Rochester

Richmond 2 :: 0 Orlando City 
RIC: Michael Seaton (Joseph Ngwenya) 56, Brian Ownby (Juan Arbelaez) 77

Charlotte 2 :: 1 Fire Reserves (MLSR)
CHE: Christian Meza 3, Shaun Francis 14
CHI: Maicon Santos 51

Richmond 0 :: 0 VSI Tampa Bay

Wilmington 2 :: 1 Red Bulls Reserves (MLSR)
NY: Marius Obekop 38
WIL: Michael Oliveira (Daniel Steres) 59, Steven Perry (Bryce Taylor) 89

MLS Reserve League

With Chicago and New York falling at home in USL Pro comebacks in interleague play, the only winners on the week were Toronto FC. And it was in convincing fashion as they went to Montreal and dominated their rivals to the tune of a 5-0 thrashing. It didn’t hurt that Toronto had Danny Koevermans in the lineup. The international standout scored the opening two goals in the first 20 minutes as they cruised the win.

Scoring Summaries / Ejections

Toronto 5 :: 0 Montreal 
TOR: Danny Koevermans (Ashtone Morgan) 3, Danny Koevermans 19, Kyle Bekker 27, Justin Braun (Alvaro Rey Vazquez) 58, Regg

(USL) Charlotte 2 :: 1 Fire Reserves – See above

(USL) Wilmington 2 :: 1 Red Bulls Reserves – See above

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