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Gameday Report: September 8, Week 26

By USLSoccer.com Staff, 09/08/18, 9:41PM EDT

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San Antonio, Saint Louis take big victories; Anhaeuser gets win No. 200 as Battery down Rowdies


Photo courtesy Darren Abate / San Antonio FC

THREE THINGS THAT MATTERED

1. Victories by both San Antonio FC and Saint Louis FC on Saturday night made the race for the Western Conference far tighter than it had been at the start of the night, with four teams now separated by one point between sixth and ninth place at the end of Saturday’s action. San Antonio’s 3-2 victory against Phoenix Rising FC at Toyota Field saw the hosts rack up a third consecutive win, and two victories this week against the top two teams in the conference. Meanwhile Saint Louis’ 1-0 win against Reno 1868 FC didn’t get the hosts at Toyota Stadium – Saint Louis into the top eight but did move Head Coach Anthony Pulis’ side level on points with 1868 FC as the race continued to play out in fascinating fashion.

2. It had been a little while coming, but Charleston Battery Head Coach Mike Anhaeuser got to celebrate his 200th victory on the club’s sideline on Saturday night at MUSC Health Stadium thanks to a 1-0 victory against the Tampa Bay Rowdies that the hosts claimed despite missing some of their key players. In the absence of leading scorer Ataulla Guerra – who continued his outstanding form while on international duty with Trinidad & Tobago on Thursday – it was Patrick Okonkwo who stepped up and provided the winner as the Battery solidified their top-four position in the Eastern Conference.

3. Real Monarchs SLC was unable to take advantage of Phoenix Rising FC’s earlier loss in San Antonio as it too capitulated in Texas in a 2-1 defeat to Rio Grande Valley FC at H-E-B Park that saw FC Cincinnati move even closer to clinching the USL Regular Season Championship despite the abandonment of its game with Louisville City FC in the 38th minute earlier in the evening. The Monarchs were going well as Konrad Plewa opened the scoring and Maikel Chang hit the post before halftime, but then the Toros staged an impressive fightback on home turf that saw Aldo Quintanilla and Todd Wharton both find the net to move Real to 0-5-1 in its last six road games, and its first three-game losing streak since the middle of the 2016 season.

GAME REPORTS

LAS VEGAS LIGHTS FC (1), LA GALAXY II (2)

LAS VEGAS – The LA Galaxy II rallied from an early deficit to take a 2-1 victory against Las Vegas Lights FC at Cashman Field. Daigo Kobayashi almost put the hosts ahead in the fifth minute as he was unable to lift his finish over Los Dos goalkeeper Justin Vom Steeg, but Omar Salgado struck five minutes later as he his shot proved too hot to handle and bounced into the right side of the net. The Galaxy II hit back in the 21st minute after Miguel Aguilar was brought down in the penalty area and Ariel Lassiter scored from the spot to even the game up. Six minutes later Lassiter set up Efrain Alvarez with a scooped pass that the 16-year-old finished off with a looping finish from the right side of the penalty area to put Los Dos ahead, and Lassiter almost added a third in the 58th minute on a counterattack chance that was parried by Lights FC goalkeeper Ricardo Ferriño. Las Vegas almost replied nine minutes later as Juan Carlos Garcia’s header was tipped just over the crossbar by Vom Steeg, while Efrain Alvarez missed out on a chance to add his second with a shot that hit the crossbar after good work by Sheanon Williams in the 71st minute. Las Vegas got the chance to level from the penalty spot with a minute to go but Carlos Alvarez had his low shot saved by Vom Steeg to keep the visitors ahead, and that proved enough for Los Dos to take their second victory of the week.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Efrain Alvarez, LA Galaxy II
– Alvarez scored the winning goal and also hit the crossbar as he earned family bragging rights over Lights FC’s Carlos thanks to his side’s victory.

SACRAMENTO REPUBLIC FC (3), SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC 2 (0)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Sacramento Republic FC took a comfortable 3-0 victory against Seattle Sounders FC 2 at Papa Murphy’s Park. Sacramento’s Hayden Partain and Seattle’s Alfonso Ocampo Chavez both had chances saved within a minute of each other in the early stages, but Republic FC took the lead in the 20th minute on Cameron Iwasa’s 13th goal of the season as he seized on a through-ball by Villyan Bijev to slot home past the advancing goalkeeper. Bijev also set up Republic FC’s second goal on the night in the 58th minute as he wove past his marker and set up Christian Eissele for a tap-in finish at the top of the six-yard area off a low cross from the left, while Eissele converted from the penalty spot in the 64th minute after being brought down by S2’s Tony Alfaro, who was sent off to reduce the visitors to 10 men. Despite the man-disadvantage S2 earned a penalty kick with 13 minutes to go only for Sacramento goalkeeper Josh Cohen to make a diving save on David Estrada in the left corner, and that allowed the hosts to wrap up all three points to move closer to the top three in the Western Conference.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Villyan Bijev, Sacramento Republic FC
– Bijev notched a pair of assists and recorded four shots overall while also working effectively in midfield as the hosts claimed a solid victory.

ORANGE COUNTY SC (3), OKC ENERGY FC (2)

IRVINE, Calif. – Orange County SC scored twice in stoppage time to earn a stunning 3-2 comeback victory over OKC Energy FC to go top of the Western Conference Saturday at Champions Soccer Stadium at OC Great Park. The two sides traded chances early on with Energy FC’s Hugh Alexander Dixon firing a right-footed effort wide in the 10th minute, before OCSC’s Aodhan Quinn responded with a header off target two minutes later. Energy FC was gifted a golden opportunity to take the lead in the 19th minute when Dixon was tripped in the penalty area by OCSC defender Jos Hooiveld. Midfielder Philip Rasmussen stepped up to take the spot kick and sent goalkeeper Andre Rawls the wrong way to open the scoring, but the lead didn’t last long as Michael Seaton headed Aodhan Quinn’s corner kick past OKC goalkeeper Bryan Byars four minutes later to level the contest at 1-1. Byars was called into action again four minutes before halftime and responded with a Save of the Week contender as he sprawled across his goal to keep out Quinn’s first-time shot with his right hand. Four minutes after the break, Seaton nearly got his second for OCSC but saw his right-footed shot come back off of the post. Marco Bustos helped Energy FC regain the lead against the run of play in the 64th minute when he scooped a pass to Dixon behind the OCSC defense and the striker kept his cool and passed the ball into the back of the net. Adam John probably should’ve doubled the lead for OKC five minutes later when he skipped past an onrushing Rawls at the top of the box, but his touch took him too close to the endline to tuck the ball into the empty net. That miss nearly cost Energy FC three minutes later as Giovanni Ramos Godoy struck the outside of the post with a lunging try, but the home side weren’t done applying pressure to Byars’ goal just yet. Darwin Jones forced the OKC goalkeeper into a low save in the 86th minute and Byars stood strong again at his near post to deny Hooiveld three minutes later, but the equalizer finally came in the third minute of stoppage time as Noah Powder curled home a free kick from 22 yards out. It looked like the two sides were destined to split the points until Quinn rifled a shot from distance that found its way past an outstretched Byars and into the bottom corner to give the home side a stunning victory.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match

Aodhan Quinn, Orange County SC – Quinn registered an assist on the game’s first goal before finding the back of the net himself from nearly 30 yards out in stoppage time to send OCSC to the top of the Western Conference.

RIO GRANDE VALLEY FC (2), REAL MONARCHS SLC (1)

EDINBURG, Texas – Rio Grande Valley FC rallied from a halftime deficit to take a 2-1 victory against Real Monarchs SLC at H-E-B Park. The Monarchs threatened in the 14th minute from a corner kick on the right as Konrad Plewa had a header saved by Toros goalkeeper Tyler Deric at the back post, while Sebastian Saucedo also forced a good save by Deric 11 minutes later with a curling free kick from 30 yards that went toward the top-left corner. Plewa scored from the ensuing corner, however, as he powered home a header from Saucedo’s delivery that left Deric little chance. The Monarchs almost doubled their lead in the 38th minute when Maikel Chang hit the left post with a curling finish, but as the second half opened the Toros got out on the front foot as Aldo Quintanilla produced a low save by Monarchs goalkeeper Jake Leeker with a turning shot in the 57th minute. RGVFC leveled with 19 minutes to go on a low finish from a corner by Quintanilla as he flicked home Todd Wharton’s delivery from the right, and Wharton then gave the hosts the lead seven minutes later with a free kick that found the right corner. The Toros twice almost added to their lead as Leeker had to make good late saves on Jesus Enriquez and Bryce Marion to keep the Monarchs’ within a goal, but while Real’s Adam Henley had a shot go high in stoppage time the Monarchs were unable to find a response as their road winless streak reached six games.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Aldo Quintanilla, Rio Grande Valley FC
– Quintanilla lead the Toros’ fightback in the second half, scoring the first goal and recording four key passes and seven shots total for the hosts.

SAN ANTONIO FC (3), PHOENIX RISING FC (2)

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio FC earned its third consecutive victory and jumped into the Western Conference playoff places with a 3-2 win over Phoenix Rising FC at Toyota Field. The visitors controlled the early part of the contest with Solomon Asante firing the game’s first chance high and wide in the sixth minute before Rising FC opened the scoring nine minutes later when Chris Cortez headed home Asante’s delivery from a corner kick. San Antonio equalized seven minutes later from a corner kick of its own with Cyprian Hedrick heading Lance Laing’s inch-perfect cross past Phoenix goalkeeper Zac Lubin and into the top right corner. San Antonio snatched the lead in the 33rd minute when midfielder Mike Seth won the ball in the attacking third and played Ever Guzmán in on goal with a nifty pass, leaving the striker to slot home his eighth goal of the season. San Antonio extended its advantage five minutes after the break when Laing converted from the penalty spot beating Lubin to his left-hand side after Cortez had barged into the back of Connor Presley just outside of the six-yard box. Rising FC thought it got a goal back in the 73rd minute when Amadou Dia’s cross struck a SAFC defender and deflected into the net, but the linesman adjudged Dia to be offside when he collected the ball from teammate Billy Forbes. Phoenix came close again eight minutes later when Saad Abdul-Salaam had his header cleared off the goalline by Maxi Rodriguez, but Rising FC finally cut the deficit to 3-2 with three minutes remaining as Cortez fired a brilliant free kick around the SAFC wall and into the bottom left corner for his club-record 15th goal of the season. The goal turned out to be mere consolation for Cortez as he, Asante and Forbes wasted chances for Rising FC in stoppage time, ensuring SAFC knocked off the top team in the Western Conference for the second time this week.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match

Lance Laing, San Antonio FC – Laing recorded a goal and an assist for the third consecutive match and his second-half penalty proved to be the winner as SAFC secured another three points.

SAINT LOUIS FC (1), RENO 1868 FC (0)

FENTON, Mo. – Saint Louis FC boosted its playoff chances as Kyle Greig’s goal earned a 1-0 victory against Reno 1868 FC at Toyota Stadium – Saint Louis. Saint Louis’ Wal Fall had the first real chance of the game in the 15th minute as his close-range header from a free kick was saved by Reno goalkeeper J.T. Marcinkowski, and three minutes later STLFC’s Kadeem Dacres had a curling shot comfortably handled. Greig almost put the hosts ahead in the 27th minute as Marcinkowski got down well to deny his effort from the right side of the penalty area, but moments later Greig was able to turn on a low cross from the left by Austin Martz and volleyed home a powerful finish to open the scoring. Reno’s Brian Brown came close to an equalizer early in the second half with a header that was turned just wide of the right post by STLFC goalkeeper Tomas Gomez, but the visitors were then reduced to 10 men as Jordan Murrell was sent off for his second yellow card. Greig almost added a second for the hosts on the hour-mark with a near-post flick of a corner kick from the right that Marcinkowski did well to keep out, and the 1868 FC goalkeeper did well again in the 71st minute to tip high a shot by Audi Jepson from the left side of the penalty area. Reno had a half-chance in stoppage time for Paul Marie that Gomez punched to safety, but Saint Louis closed out all three points to tighten the playoff race in the Western Conference.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Kyle Greig, Saint Louis FC
– Greig’s 12th goal of the season proved the winner, but the forward also won 15 of 24 duels on the night to lead the line well throughout for the hosts.

CHARLESTON BATTERY (1), TAMPA BAY ROWDIES (0)

CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Charleston Battery got a first-half goal by Patrick Okonkwo to take a 1-0 victory against the Tampa Bay Rowdies at MUSC Health Stadium. The teams exchanged goals early, but the Battery opened the scoring in the 22nd minute when Okonkwo got in behind the Rowdies defense on a pass by Ian Svantesson and fired low into the left corner of the net from the top of the penalty area. The Rowdies almost leveled as a clever free kick released Leo Fernandes down the left for a low cross that Sebastian Guenzatti just turned wide of the near post 10 minutes before halftime, but the Battery’s defense held firm as the Rowdies continued to seek an equalizer in the second half. Guenzatti had a pair of chances six minutes apart in the final 20 minutes as he first had a header from a corner kick blocked and cleared, and then sent a header over the crossbar under pressure from his marker at close range. The Rowdies’ last chance also fell to Guenzatti, but his header slid wide and Charleston held on to take its second home shutout victory against the Rowdies this season.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Patrick Okonkwo, Charleston Battery
– Okonkwo produced a fine finish for the only goal of the game and put in a strong shift otherwise, making four tackles and winning 10 duels.

PENN FC (1), ATL UTD 2 (2)

HARRISBURG, Pa. – ATL UTD 2 scored twice in the first half to take a 2-1 victory against Penn FC at FNB Field for its second consecutive victory. Atlanta took the lead in just the third minute as Devon Sandoval headed home from the top of the six-yard area after Jon Gallagher sent in a good cross from the right, and almost struck again in the 16th minute as Andrew Carleton fired just wide of the near post off a through-ball by Jack Metcalf into the right side of the penalty area. Penn almost hit back in the 28th minute as Saalih Muhammad found space on the right side of the penalty area but was first denied by Atlanta goalkeeper Alec Kann and then sent the rebound just wide of the right post. Kann also had to be sharp to keep out a header by Kyle Venter to the left corner from a free kick four minutes later, but in the 34th minute the hosts equalized as Ken Tribbett turned home a corner kick for his sixth goal this season. Atlanta regained the lead four minutes before halftime, however, as Carleton capitalized on a counterattack to finish low to the right corner. Penn looked to get back level early in the second half when Paulo Junior’s first-time finish was denied by Kann, and then tried to find an equalizer late as first Tribbett had a shot turned wide by Kann and another in stoppage time by Fabio de Souza, whose shot from the left touchline almost tucked in at the near post. Atlanta held on, however, to take its first back-to-back wins in club history.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Jon Gallagher, ATL UTD 2
– Gallagher provided the assists on both of Atlanta’s goals and finished the night with three key passes and four clearances defensively.

CHARLOTTE INDEPENDENCE (2), RICHMOND KICKERS (1)

MATTHEWS, N.C. – The Charlotte Independence inched closer to the Eastern Conference playoff places with a 2-1 victory over the Richmond Kickers at Sportsplex at Matthews. Independence forward Eamon Zayed capitalized on the hosts’ first chance of the evening in the fifth minute when he latched onto Alex Martinez’s inch-perfect through pass and lifted a left-footed effort over the onrushing goalkeeper Trevor Spangenberg while losing his shoe in the process. Richmond nearly equalized three minutes later as Brian Shriver worked his way around the Charlotte defense and fired a low drive on target from the left side of the penalty area, but Independence keeper Brandon Miller got down quickly to keep the shot out. Yann Ekra nearly doubled the lead for the Independence in the 36th minute when he twisted his way past a defender and curled a shot towards the top corner that Spangenberg tipped over the bar, however, the pressure didn’t let up as Zayed found a knockdown from the ensuing corner but the goalscorer could only redirect the ball onto Spangenberg’s near post. The Kickers nearly drew level a minute later when Raul Gonzalez fired a low effort that Miller was able to keep out with his foot. Zayed came closest to his second two minutes before halftime heading a Jake Areman cross past Spangenberg only for it to be cleared to safety by Kickers defender McKeil Williams. Spangenberg made another acrobatic save in the 57th minute to deny Areman on a curling effort, but the defender made his second error in as many weeks a minute later when he was caught in possession by Areman who coolly fired the ball into an empty net. Raul Gonzalez gave the Kickers a lifeline with 18 minutes to play when he found a loose ball in the box and fired a right-footed drive past Miller to cut the deficit in half. Richmond manufactured one last chance to equalize in stoppage time with Austin Yearwood firing a dipping effort on target from the left side of the penalty area, but Miller punched it clear to secure all three points.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:

Jake Areman, Charlotte Independence – Areman showed determination to hassle Spangenberg on the game’s winning goal and was dangerous all evening creating chances for himself and others

NORTH CAROLINA FC (3), NASHVILLE SC (3)

CARY, N.C. – Nashville SC scored twice in the final 10 minutes to earn a 3-3 draw with North Carolina FC on Saturday night at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park. North Carolina had an early chance when Kyle Bekker fired into the side netting from the left side of the penalty area in the fourth minute, while eight minutes later Nashville’s Michael Reed flashed a shot just wide of the right post at the other end after negotiating space at the top of the penalty area. The hosts took the lead in the 18th minute, however, as Tiyi Shipalane drove forward from midfield and fired a shot that took a deflection at the top of the penalty area, wrongfooting NSC goalkeeper Matt Pickens as the ball found the right corner of the net. Nashville had a chance in the 36th minute as a driven cross from the right by Matt LaGrassa found Ropapa Mensah for a header that was saved by NCFC goalkeeper Alex Tambakis, but North Carolina doubled its lead three minutes later as Daniel Rios scored his 15th goal of the season with a low free kick to the right corner from the top-left side of the penalty area. Nashville pulled a goal back six minutes into the second half after it was awarded a penalty kick for a handball by Bekker as Brandon Allen scored low to the right corner, but North Carolina restored its two-goal advantage in the 63rd minute when Zach Steinberger volleyed home a finish into the left corner after the hosts kept play alive in the NSC penalty area. Allen converted a second penalty kick for Nashville with 10 minutes to go after Tucker Hume was fouled in the penalty area, shooting low to the left corner, and the visitors pulled level two minutes later as a shot from the left side of the penalty area by Lebo Moloto took a wicked deflection and looped over Tambakis into the right side of the net. Steinberger almost added his second of the night with two minutes to go as his deflected shot flashed just over the crossbar, but the sides ended even as Nashville pushed back into eighth place in the East.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Brandon Allen, Nashville SC
– The halftime substitute kept his cool to convert twice from the penalty spot to lead Nashville’s fightback to earn a point.

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