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Gameday Report: October 6, Week 30

By JOHN ARLIA - john.arlia@uslsoccer.com, 10/06/18, 9:30PM EDT

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New York earns vital road victory; FCC extends unbeaten run to 22 games to equal USL record


The New York Red Bulls II picked up their first road victory of the season on Saturday night against North Carolina FC. | Photo courtesy Rob Kinnan/ North Carolina FC

THREE THINGS THAT MATTERED

1. The ten-men New York Red Bulls II picked up a crucial three points with a 2-1 victory over North Carolina FC on Saturday night at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park. Tom Barlow’s goal in the 79th minute gave New York its first road win of the season and put the side back into the playoff places in the Eastern Conference. The Red Bulls II now sit in eight place in the East on 46 points and can clinch a spot in the 2018 USL Cup Playoffs next week with wins over Penn FC and Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC.

2. FC Cincinnati’s 0-0 draw against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC on Saturday night at Highland Stadium extended the side’s unbeaten streak to 22 games, matching the USL record set by the Richmond Kickers at the start of the 2013 season. Pittsburgh carried the majority of the play, attempting 18 shots to Cincinnati’s four, but the visitors won’t care as they gave themselves a chance to break the record in their regular-season finale next Saturday against Nashville SC.

3. Indy Eleven played out a 1-1 draw with Bethlehem Steel FC on Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium that saw both sides retain their playoff positions in the Eastern Conference standings with one game remaining in the regular season. It wasn’t the ideal result for either, as the Eleven could’ve clinched its spot with a victory and Steel FC would’ve liked to put some more distance between itself and the chasing pack, but Ottawa Fury FC will be happy with the draw as it can still catch Steel FC on the final weekend of the season.

GAME REPORTS

PHOENIX RISING FC (0), RENO 1868 FC (0)

PHOENIX – Phoenix Rising FC failed to keep pace in the race for the top spot in the Western Conference as it slipped to a 0-0 draw against Reno 1868 FC on Saturday night at Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex. The home side had a chance to take the lead in the 28th minute as Mike da Fonte slid a through pass to Jason Johnson down the left wing but Reno goalkeeper Matt Bersano came out quickly to narrow the angle and keep the shot out. Johnson got in behind the 1868 FC defense again seven minutes later but failed to make the most of Didier Drogba’s delicious pass as he skewed his shot wide left of the goal. Reno had its first good look at goal five minutes after halftime as Mohamed Thiaw played a chipped pass to Jerry van Ewijk on the right side of the area but Rising FC goalkeeper Carl Woszczynski got a piece of the forward’s right-footed shot to push it behind to safety. Phoenix looked like it was going to take the lead eight minutes from time with a great passing move as Devin Vega slid the ball into Billy Forbes near the penalty spot but the substitute’s first-time finish was kept out by the outstretched palm of Bersano just feet off the goal line as Reno held on for a vital point in its quest for a top-four finish.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:

Brent Richards, Reno 1868 FC – Richards was a force in Reno’s defense, making six clearances, two interceptions and winning eight out of ten duels as his side kept a clean sheet on the road to extend its unbeaten run to six games.

LA GALAXY II (1), SACRAMENTO REPUBLIC FC (2)

CARSON, Calif. – Sacramento Republic FC secured a top-four finish in the Western Conference with a 2-1 road victory over the LA Galaxy II on Saturday night at StubHub Center. The visitors got off to a great start as Keven Aleman took Jure Matjasic’s pass on the right side of the penalty area, cut inside a defender a curled a brilliant left-footed effort past Los Dos goalkeeper Eric Lopez and into the top-left corner. Republic FC doubled its advantage four minutes later as Matjasic played a long ball to Aleman on the right side of the box and instead of cutting back onto his left again, he cut back outside and found the bottom-left corner with the outside of his left boot. The Galaxy II pulled a goal back in the 24th minute as Frank Lopez headed home Nate Shultz’s cross from the right wing, beating Sacramento goalkeeper Josh Cohen inside his right-hand post. Aleman went for the hat trick in first-half stoppage time as his left-footed free kick went around the wall but right into the waiting arms of Lopez. The Galaxy II had a chance to equalize 14 minutes after halftime as Nate Shultz’s cross from the right found Ethan Zubak at the back post but his header went into the ground and bounced harmlessly over the crossbar. Sacramento had a golden opportunity to extend the lead in the 68th minute but Jeremy Hall saw his penalty kick saved by Lopez after Matjasic was fouled in the area. Republic FC was reduced to ten men six minutes later after Cole Seiler was sent off for his second yellow card but the visitors held on in the final quarter of an hour to guarantee themselves a home game in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:

Keven Aleman, Sacramento Republic FC – Aleman completed 84.6 percent of his passes, registered three shots on target and scored two of them as he doubled his goalscoring tally for the season and helped Sacramento secure a top-four finish in the West.

ORANGE COUNTY SC (2), SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC 2 (1)

IRVINE, Calif. – Orange County SC left it late but maintained the top spot in the Western Conference with a 2-1 victory over Seattle Sounders FC 2 on Saturday night at Champions Soccer Stadium at OC Great Park. The home side nearly took the lead in the fourth minute of play when Aodhan Quinn’s corner kick was headed onto the crossbar by OCSC forward Michael Seaton. Quinn tested S2 goalkeeper Calle Brown a minute later as he cut in on his favored left foot a fired a shot from the right side of the box that didn’t have enough power to trouble the netminder. Seattle took the lead against the run of play in the 60th minute when Azriel Gonzalez was allowed time and space to shoot from 25 yards out and the midfielder produced a sublime strike that dipped and curled into the top-right corner past OCSC goalkeeper Andre Rawls. The lead didn’t last long as Orange County equalized two minutes later from a corner kick as Richard Chaplow headed home to mark his 400th career professional appearance with a goal. S2 nearly took the lead again in the 80th minute as Marlon Vargas ran onto Denso Ulysse’s headed pass and turned inside an OCSC defender before firing a left-footed shot on frame but Rawls produced a splendid diving save to parry the effort to safety. The home side had a chance to claim the points three minutes later as Thomas Enevoldsen set up Quinn for a left-footed shot from outside the box that struck the outside of the post. Quinn made amends in the 94th minute as he gave his side the lead, sending Brown the wrong way from the penalty spot after Giovanni Ramos Godoy was fouled in the box by Ulysse.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:

Aodhan Quinn, Orange County SC – Quinn completed 83 percent of his passes, took the corner kick that led to the opening goal and kept his cool from the penalty spot in second-half stoppage time to secure three points for Orange County.

SAN ANTONIO FC (3), LAS VEGAS LIGHTS FC (1)

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio FC overcame an early deficit to pick up a 3-1 victory over Las Vegas Lights FC and keep its playoff hopes alive on Saturday night at Toyota Field. The home side did not get off to the start it was looking for as Lights FC capitalized on a two-on-one opportunity and took the lead in the 12th minute with Rafael Garcia playing a through pass to Samuel Ochoa, who coolly slid a finish past SAFC goalkeeper Matt Cardone and into the bottom-left corner. San Antonio responded well and got back on level terms in the 34th minute as Lance Laing ran down the left wing and squared the ball across the penalty area for Ever Guzman to fire home with a first-time finish. The ball was in the back of Cardone’s net two minutes later, but Las Vegas saw its goal ruled out as Raul Mendiola was adjudged to be in an offside position when he chipped Cardone from close range. Guzman grabbed his second goal of the night three minutes after halftime to give San Antonio the lead as he ran onto Ethan Bryant’s chipped pass and cut inside a Lights FC defender before beating goalkeeper Thomas Olsen at his near post. Las Vegas tried to take advantage of a SAFC turnover in the 56th minute and Carlos Alvarez forced Cardone into a save with his right-footed drive from 20 yards out. San Antonio nearly extended the lead three minutes later as Laing struck the crossbar with a ferocious left-footed effort from a narrow angle, but the winger got his goal ten minutes from time as he fired a shot with his favorite left foot into the bottom-right corner from the left side of the box. SAFC nearly got a fourth goal as Omar Gordon struck the right post with an effort a minute after Laing’s goal, but three turned out to be enough for the home side as it kept its playoff hopes alive.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:

Ever Guzman, San Antonio FC – Guzman had a standout evening up front for San Antonio, completing 81.3 percent of his passes and scoring his side’s first two goals to bring his tally up to ten for the season.

TULSA ROUGHNECKS FC (1), RIO GRANDE VALLEY FC (2)

TULSA, Okla. – Rio Grande Valley FC picked up its second straight win with a 2-1 road victory against Tulsa Roughnecks FC on Saturday night at ONEOK Field. The home side nearly took the lead in the 34th minute of play when Eti Tavares’ cross found Paris Gee, but the midfielder’s header sailed over Michael Nelson’s goal. The Roughnecks continued to apply the pressure and forced a save out of Nelson seven minutes later as Nemanja Vukovic tried a left-footed shot from outside of the penalty area that the goalkeeper had to corral but it was RGVFC that would open the scoring six minutes after halftime. Todd Wharton’s out-swinging corner kick delivery found Nicolas Perea at the near post and the midfielder was able to head home from a difficult angle to get his side on the board first. Things got better for the visitors two minutes later as Carlos Small’s right-footed shot from the left side of the penalty area avoided a defender on its way into an essentially empty net after Tulsa goalkeeper Fabian Cerda had come out to claim a through pass but Small got to it first. The Roughnecks cut the lead to 2-1 in the 60th minute on a well-worked passing move that saw Michael Gamble square the ball across the goal for Joaquin Rivas to tap in at the far post. Rivas tested Nelson again five minutes later with a right-footed shot from the center of the box but the goalkeeper was equal to it. Small had a chance to seal the points for the visitors three minutes from time but his right-footed effort was stopped by Cerda, but two goals proved to be enough for RGVFC as Nelson shut the door on Adriano Jusino late in stoppage time to protect the 2-1 victory.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:

Nicolas Perea, Rio Grande Valley FC – Perea played well in midfield, completed 78.8 percent of his passes, winning three of six duels and heading home the game’s opening goal in the 51st minute.

TAMPA BAY ROWDIES (1), CHARLOTTE INDEPENDENCE (2)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Rowdies were eliminated from postseason contention after falling 2-1 to the Charlotte Independence on Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium in a match that also saw the victors mathematically eliminated. Eamon Zayed had the first chance of the evening in the 22nd minute but the Charlotte forward saw his right-footed shot saved by Rowdies goalkeeper Daniel Vega. The visitors were on the board four minutes later though, as Kay Voser’s left-footed shot from the right side of the penalty area beat Vega and found the top-left corner. The Independence doubled the lead in the 32nd minute as Cordell Cato’s low cross from the left was tapped in from close range by Derek Gebhard. Zayed forced Vega into another save eight minutes later, but the Rowdies came closer to grabbing a goal before the break when Leon Taylor’s right-footed effort from the six-yard box was just kept off the line by Charlotte goalkeeper Brandon Miller. The Rowdies gave themselves a lifeline in the 80th minute as Taylor was on hand to head Sebastian Guenzatti’s headed pass into the bottom-left corner to cut the deficit in half. Tampa pressed for an equalizer in the game’s final minutes as Guenzatti saw his header saved by Miller four minutes from time before Taylor struck the post with another header in the 90th minute, but the Rowdies couldn’t find a second goal to keep their playoff hopes alive.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:

Derek Gebhard, Charlotte Independence – Gebhard completed 82.4 percent of his passes, won six of eight duels and scored his first goal of the season to give his side the win.

NORTH CAROLINA FC (1), NEW YORK RED BULLS II (2)

CARY, NC. – The New York Red Bulls II picked up their first road victory off the season and jumped back into the playoff positions in the Eastern Conference with a 2-1 win over North Carolina FC on Saturday night at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park. The visitors had a pair of golden opportunities in the fourth minute of play as Anatole Abang latched onto Amando Moreno’s through pass and forced an early save out of NCFC goalkeeper Alex Tambakis from close range. Abang located the rebound and played it behind the netminder into a dangerous position but it was cleared to safety by Wuilito Fernandes. North Carolina went down the other end a minute later as Aaron Guillen played a sublime ball over the top for Donovan Ewolo but the forward’s left-footed shot slid just wide of the left post. New York opened the scoring in the 24th minute from a corner kick as Abang headed a wayward defensive header past Tambakis from inside the six-yard box for his third goal of the season. North Carolina nearly equalized two minutes later as Ewolo chested down Austin da Luz’s headed pass and fired a shot on the turn that was parried to safety by Red Bulls II goalkeeper Evan Louro. The Red Bulls II were reduced to ten men in unusual circumstances just after the first-half whistle blew as Abang kicked out at Guillen after play had subsided, connecting with his shin and referee Ismir Pekmic brandished a red card. North Carolina made the most of the man-advantage seven minutes after halftime as Kyle Bekker produced a first-time, side-foot finish to Zach Steinberger’s cross for his third goal in two games. The home side nearly went ahead in the 63rd minute as Steven Miller found a loose ball in the box following a corner kick and got a right-footed shot on target, but Louro reacted quickly to stick out a right leg and keep the ball out. The Red Bulls II fashioned a chance on the other end four minutes later as Andrew Tinari tried his luck from 25 yards out and just flashed his right-footed drive wide of the left post. Louro was called into action again in the 75th minute as Ewolo produced a lunging header on Miller’s right-wing cross but the goalkeeper was able to parry it to safety. New York snatched the lead three minutes later as it capitalized on a NCFC turnover with Tinari forcing a save out of Tambakis before Tom Barlow tapped the rebound home into an empty net. Bekker and Daniel Rios tested Louro in the game’s final seven minutes, but New York held on for its first away win of the season and a crucial three points.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:

Evan Louro, New York Red Bulls II – Louro was busy in the second half after New York was reduced to ten men and made five saves on the night, including a few crucial ones late on as the Red Bulls II picked up three pivotal points.

INDY ELEVEN (1), BETHLEHEM STEEL FC (1)

INDIANAPOLIS – Indy Eleven missed out a chance to clinch a playoff berth on its home turf as it settled for a 1-1 draw against Bethlehem Steel FC on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium. The visitors had a glorious chance to open the scoring in the 16th minute as James Chambers played Faris through on goal but the forward saw his shot saved by Owain Fon Williams and Brenden Aaronson’s rebound attempt was denied by a vital block by Indy defender Carlyle Mitchell. Bethlehem got a little bit of luck in the 39th minute as Faris opened the scoring after running onto Aaronson’s through pass on the right side of the penalty area and slotting a left-footed shot past Fon Williams into the lower-left corner. The move didn’t look like it was going to be a threatening one until Mitchell went down with an injury, allowing Faris the space to shoot. Indy got back on level terms 16 minutes after halftime as Eugene Starikov converted the home side’s first shot on target of the night past Steel FC goalkeeper Tomas Romero to make it 1-1. The sides traded chances in the game’s final ten minutes as both sides searched for the winner, but Fon Williams denied Chris Nanco in the 83rd minute before Indy’s Dylan Mares just fired over three minutes later as the game ended in a draw.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:

Faris, Bethlehem Steel FC – Faris was a threat in attack for the visitors all night long and took his goal well to give Bethlehem a crucial away point for its playoff hopes.

PITTSBURGH RIVERHOUNDS SC (0), FC CINCINNATI (0)

PITTSBURGH – FC Cincinnati extended its unbeaten streak to 22 games, matching the USL record set by the Richmond Kickers in 2013 with a 0-0 draw against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC on Saturday night at Highmark Stadium. Cincinnati nearly took the lead in the 13th minute as Corben Bone’s low cross from the left wing was allowed to roll across the penalty area to Emmanuel Ledesma, who created a yard of space and fired a left-footed drive at Pittsburgh goalkeeper Dan Lynd. Bone was involved in the buildup again in the 34th minute has he played a clever through pass to Fatai Alashe with the outside of his right foot but the striker couldn’t keep his right-footed effort on frame. Pittsburgh controlled most of the contest, attempting 18 shots, but failed to truly test Cincinnati goalkeeper Spencer Richey. Thomas Vancaeyezeele’s left-footed shot from the left side of the box in the 81st minute summed up the night’s events as it came close but sailed just past the top-right corner.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:

Justin Hoyte, FC Cincinnati – Hoyte was a sturdy presence at the back for the visitors, making five clearances, an interception and winning three tackles as FCC kept a clean sheet and extended its unbeaten run.

RICHMOND KICKERS (0), NASHVILLE SC (3)

RICHMOND, Va. – Nashville SC vaulted into the Eastern Conference playoff places with a 3-0 victory over the Richmond Kickers on Saturday night at City Stadium. Nashville took the lead in the 20th minute when Ropapa Mensah’s cross was punched directly onto the head of Tucker Hume by Richmond goalkeeper Trevor Spangenberg and the forward headed comfortably into an open goal for his third tally in his last four games. The visitors benefitted from some more good fortune nine minutes later as Richmond defender Mekeil Williams tried to deal with another Mensah cross but his attempted clearance struck Michael Reed and found the back of the net. Richmond responded with a good period of controlled play, but failed to turn its possession advantage into shots on target and the visitors made them pay again in the 56th minute as Matt LaGrassa played a through pass to Alan Winn down the left side of the pitch and Winn kept his cool to slot a right-footed shot into the bottom right-corner past Spangenberg to give Nashville a 3-0 lead. Mensah should have had a goal of his own eight minutes later as he sprung clean through on a breakaway and rounded Spangenberg but was denied by a brilliant piece of defending by Austin Yearwood, who slid in at the last second to deny a sure goal. Richmond’s Raul Gonzalez tested Nashville goalkeeper Matt Pickens in the 78th minute but the goalkeeper made the save and kept his clean sheet as his side earned a vital victory.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:

Ropapa Mensah, Nashville SC – Mensah was an attacking threat for Nashville all night and played his role in creating the side’s first two goals and should’ve had one of his own late on.

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