Monday, April 8, 2013

Lower Division Recap: Round 1

Here is the first weekly recap of action in the lower divisions of the sport now that everyone has gotten underway. Due to the early outlying USL Pro games and the much earlier start to the MLS Reserve League action, everything from the first kick to the opening weekend of the NASL this past weekend will be bundled up in Round One.

North American Soccer League

Everyone got a point, except idle Atlanta. The reigning Soccer Bowl champion Tampa Bay Rowdies kicked off their campaign with a dominant offensive effort against visiting Carolina with a 17-6 advantage in shots, but RailHawks goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald had a highlight reel night of saves, making seven stops in the scoreless draw. In a showdown of what many feel are the top two contenders for the Spring title, the newly-owned Minnesota United with the league’s past two scoring champions were unable to find the back of the net in a scoreless draw at the Metrodome against last year’s regular season champion San Antonio Scorpions whom they raided for many players during the offseason.

In the surprise of the night, FC Edmonton travelled across the continent to pick up a draw at Fort Lauderdale, getting on the board first when Shaun Saiko found Wes Knight, formerly of San Antonio, on a cross 15 minutes into the contest. The Strikers would find their equalizer with 17 minutes left from their own newcomer as David Foley, a longtime Puerto Rico Islander, ripped a lengthy strike from 24 yards out into the upper right corner.

Scoring Summaries / Ejections

Carolina 0 :: 0 Tampa Bay (Attd: 4232)
CAR: Paul Hamilton – Ejection (2C) 90+

Edmonton 1 :: 1 Fort Lauderdale (Attd: 5201)
EDM: Wes Knight (Shaun Saiko) 15
FTL: David Foley 73

San Antonio 0 :: 0 Minnesota (Attd: 6754)


The two expansion clubs have gotten off to relatively successful starts on the young season as about half the league has played at least once to this point. The first-year Phoenix Wolves fell in the league opener on the road March 23 with the Los Angeles Blues finding goals from George Davis IV and Chris Cortez, but they rebounded in their home debut a week later in a showdown with fellow newcomer VSI Tampa Bay. Brazilian Netinho provided the difference maker on a curling 22-yard strike in the 1-0 decision on a ball from Diego Faria. It looked good for the Wolves in their second home game Sunday against reigning two-time regular season champion Orlando City when Faria gave Phoenix the lead 16 minutes in Sunday, but the Lions roared back, starting with a first-half equalizer from Sporting KC loanee Dom Dwyer. Kevin Molina then set up Long Ton in the second half and put the match out of reach with three minutes left, though Phoenix celebrated a fantastic Andrew Weber penalty kick save against Jamie Watson in the 81st minute to keep them alive.

Following their narrow defeat in Phoenix, VSI Tampa Bay continued their west coast trek. The nabbed a 1-0 victory in LA on a strike from Antonio Neto 20 minutes from time Tuesday and took on the Portland Timbers Reserves Sunday in the first-ever matchup featuring the two leagues under the new development partnership. A Michael Nanchoff penalty put Portland in front eight minutes into the second half, but longtime lower division star Mauricio Salles pulled VSI level six minutes later. Nanchoff, however, found Jose Valencia for the winning tally with nine minutes left.

In Saturday’s matchup of veteran clubs, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds picked up a point in Richmond as the Kickers opened their first season without Ronnie Pascale by getting a scoreless draw courtesy of DC United loanee Andrew Dykstra, a former standout in Charleston.

Scoring Summaries / Ejections

Phoenix 0 :: 2 Los Angeles (Attd: 1436)
LA: George Davis IV (Matt Hall) 25, Chris Cortez (Rodrigo Lopez) 49

Tampa Bay 0 :: 1 Phoenix (Attd: 4198)
PHO: Netinho (Diego Faria) 15

Tampa Bay 1 :: 0 Los Angeles (Attd: 337)
TB: Antonio Neto (Douglas Dos Santos) 70

Pittsburgh 0 :: 0 Richmond (3268)

Tampa Bay 1 :: 2 Portland (Attd 1803)
POR: Michael Nanchoff (pk) 53, Jose Valencia (Nanchoff, Sebastian Rincon) 81
TB: Mauricio Salles (Jean Jacques Bitielo) 59

Orlando 3 :: 1 Phoenix (Attd: 2329)
PHO: Diego Faria 16
ORL: Dom Dwyer (Jamie Watson) 35, Long Tan (Kevin Molino) 68, Kevin Molino 87

MLS Reserve League

All but three teams (Chivas USA, LA, Vancouver) have played at least one game thus far and a trio have already played three games. Real Salt Lake has jumped out to a 2-0-1 start, kicking things off with a 1-0 win at San Jose in the first match of the Reserve League. They added their second win in the league’s second match with Devon Sandoval getting his second goal in as many games in a 2-1 win against visiting Colorado, whom they also played to a scoreless draw on the road against.

The Portland Timbers also have a pair of wins. In addition to Sunday’s win against USL Pro VSI Tampa Bay, the Timbers defeated Cascadia rival Seattle 1-0 on the road on a late tally from Jose Valencia, who had the winner against Tampa Bay. The lone loss came in Colorado, 1-0.

Every team in the East Division of the league has played at least once with five having a tally in the win column. Columbus split in their two contests, but lead in the division with four goals, two coming from Konrad Warzycha, who scored the opening goals in a 2-1 win against Chicago and a 2-3 loss at New York, which has a pair of multi-game scorers in Marius Obekop (2 goals) and Andre Akpan (3 goals), who scored twice Sunday in Chicago.

Scoring Summaries / Ejections

Salt Lake 1 :: 0 San Jose
RSL: Devon Sandoval (Joao Plata) 42

Colorado 1 :: 2 Salt Lake
RSL: Devon Sandoval 35, Coco Navarro 84
COL: Dillon Serna 89

Houston 3 :: 1 Dallas
HOU: Warren Creavalle 5, Brian Ownby 73, Christian Gonzalez 84
DAL: Bobby Warshaw (Fabian Castillo) 34

Portland 1 :: 0 Seattle
POR: Jose Valencia (Steven Evans) 86'

New York 0 :: 3 Montreal
MTL: Andrew Wenger (Zakaria Messoudi) 16, Kevin Luarca (Collen Warner) 29, Blake Smith (Andrew Wenger) 83

Chicago 1 :: 2 Columbus
CLB: Konrad Warzcyha (Tony Tchani) 45, Bernardo Anor (Ethan Finlay) 86
CHI: Colin Rolfe  62

Columbus 2 :: 3 New York 
CLB: Konrad Warzycha (unassisted) 18, Shawn Sloan 92
NY: Marius Obekop (Lloyd Sam) 19, Own goal (Bernardo Anor) 29, Andre Akpan (Ruben Bover) 45

Portland 0 :: 1 Colorado
COL: Danny Mwanga (Davy Armstrong, Atiba Harris) 50

Salt Lake 0 :: 0 Colorado

Dallas 0 :: 2 Toronto
TOR: Mark Anthony Kaye 44, Ashton Bennett 85

Tampa Bay 1 :: 2 Portland 
POR: Michael Nanchoff (pk) 53, Jose Valencia (Nanchoff, Sebastian Rincon) 81
TB: Mauricio Salles (Jean Jacques Bitielo) 59

New York 6 :: 1 Chicago

NY: Marius Obekop 15, Andre Akpan 22, Lloyd Sam 31, Andre Akpan 32, Armando Moreno 73, Michael Bustamante 77
CHI: Yazid Atouba 30


Seven of the nine players on loan to their affiliates in the opening matches for Orlando City and Richmond played a full 90 minutes and an eighth, Sporting KC’s Dom Dwyer, played 81 and scored in Orlando City’s victory. Christian Duke, Yann Songo’o and goalkeeper Jon Kempin all played the full match for the Lions at Phoenix. DC loanees Taylor Kemp, Conor Shanosky, Casey Townsend and goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra played the entire match.

Also seeing action thus far are a pair of loans to the NASL. Vancouver’s Carlyle Mitchell played the full 90 in FC Edmonton’s draw at Fort Lauderdale and Houston’s Alen Dixon came in for the final 20 minutes for Tampa Bay in their draw.

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