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UNITED SOCCER LEAGUES

July 31, 2012
USL PRO ROUNDUP
Week in review: Orlando clinches regular season title


ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando City clinched the USL PRO regular season title, and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, as Matt Luzunaris scored in his fifth consecutive game to lead the Lions to a 4-0 victory against the Charleston Battery on Friday night at the Florida Citrus Bowl.

The opening 15 minutes saw both sides share possession, but the Lions took the lead in slightly fortunate fashion in the 16th minute when Kevin Molino’s shot deflected off Kyle Hoffer and looped over a stranded Andrew Dykstra in the Battery goal and into the back of the net. Five minutes later, Luzunaris struck from close range, his ninth goal of the season.


The game turned bad-tempered in the second half, and both sides were reduced to 10 men near the hour-mark as Orlando’s James O’Connor and Charleston’s Colin Falvey were both sent off. The night got worse for Hoffer shortly after as he received his second yellow card, putting the Battery down to nine men. Orlando was able to add to its lead with the man-advantage, with Dennis Chin scoring twice late to make him the first player in USL PRO to reach double-digits this season, taking over the league-lead with 10 goals.

Orlando hits the road for a pair of games in the northeast this week, opening with a visit to the Harrisburg City Islanders on Wednesday night at Skyline Sports Complex. The Battery face a home-and-home series with the Wilmington Hammerheads next as they try to stay in contention for a first-round bye in the playoffs.

WEDNESDAY
ORLANDO FC 1, WILMINGTON HAMMERHEADS 1
: Luzunaris scored late to earn Orlando City a draw with the Wilmington Hammerheads at the Florida Citrus Bowl. The Hammerheads took a second-half lead, but were forced to settle for a point on the road as they moved to 30 points with four games to play in their regular season.

Orlando went close on numerous occasions in the first half, with Luzunaris having arguably their best opportunity from close-range as he flicked a header just wide of the right post from Luke Boden’s cross from the left. The Lions were then handed a chance to take the lead from the penalty spot just after the halftime break, but Rodrigo Lopez had his shot saved by Wilmington goalkeeper Alex Horwath, who dove to his left to save.

The Hammerheads then took the lead against the run of play as Bryce Taylor won possession in his own half and took off on a counter-attack down the right. The rookie then cut inside at the top of the penalty area and fired a shot home for his fifth goal of the season.

Orlando thought it had equalized in the 78th minute, only for Chin’s finish to be ruled out for offside. The Lions got back on even terms with six minutes to go, however, as Chin got in behind the Hammerheads’ defense and found Luzunaris for the equalizer.

FRIDAY
ROCHESTER RHINOS 1, LOS ANGELES BLUES 0
: The Rochester Rhinos solidified their position in second place in the USL PRO standings as an own goal by Los Angeles’ Matheau Hall proved the difference in the Rhinos’ victory at Sahlen’s Stadium. The win allowed the Rhinos to complete a three-game sweep of the season series between the two teams.

The Rhinos came close to opening the scoring in the first 10 minutes as Tyler Rosenlund shot over the crossbar. Danny Earls also went close in the 22nd minute, but Blues goalkeeper Jose Miranda was able to tip the effort over the crossbar.

The Rhinos continued to press into the second half, but didn’t take the lead until the 60th minute when a miscommunication between Hall and Miranda saw the defender head to where he thought his goalkeeper would be waiting. Instead, the ball found the back of the net, putting the Rhinos ahead.

Los Angeles tried to fight back, Bryan Burke shot wide five minutes after Rochester went ahead and Rhinos goalkeeper Kristian Nicht had to make a good save to deny Matt Fondy soon after. The Rhinos held on to move five points clear of the Charleston Battery for the second first-round bye in the USL PRO Playoffs.

CHARLOTTE EAGLES 1, RICHMOND KICKERS 0: Darryl Roberts scored with 10 minutes remaining as the Charlotte Eagles moved even on points with the Richmond Kickers for the sixth and final berth in the USL PRO Playoffs with victory at Charlotte Christian Stadium. The goal was Roberts’ team-leading fifth of the season.

After an hour-long lightning delay, the Kickers earned the first opportunity as Chris Agorsor found an opening, but Eric Reed was able to save and keep the game scoreless. Agorsor also went close off a free kick in the 23rd minute, while Roberts fired a shot that was tipped over by Richmond goalkeeper Ronnie Pascale for the Eagles’ first big opportunity.

The Kickers had a chance again early in the second half, only for William Yomby’s header to flash over the crossbar from close range. Charlotte’s Mauricio Salles blazed a shot over the crossbar in the 62nd minute, but the Eagles were finally able to take the lead with 10 minutes remaining as Roberts connected on a chance created by Mark Bloom to put his side ahead. The Eagles were then able to remain ahead, taking a crucial three points and extending their winning streak to six games.

PITTSBURGH RIVERHOUNDS 4, ANTIGUA BARRACUDAS 1: The Pittsburgh Riverhounds got a pair of goals and assist by Matt Kassel as they ended their winless streak with a 4-1 victory against Antigua Barracuda FC at Chartiers Valley Stadium on Friday night. The goals gave Kassel six this season as the Riverhounds scored twice in either half.

Kassel opened the scoring in the fifth minute, driving a left-footed shot into the back of the net after his late run into the penalty area was found by Matt Dallman. The Riverhounds doubled their lead in the 32nd minute as Jeremy Deighton found the back of the net for his first goal of the season, heading home Kassel’s cross.

Antigua pulled a goal back 10 minutes into the second half as Tamarley Thomas found the back of the net, but the Riverhounds scored twice in the 76th minute, first through Kassel, who headed home a long throw-in by Mike Seth, before Seth himself put the game away with a low right-footed shot.

SATURDAY
RICHMOND KICKERS 2, CHARLOTTE EAGLES 1
: The Richmond Kickers took a split of the weekend series and moved three points ahead of the Charlotte Eagles for the sixth and final berth in the USL PRO Playoffs as Yomby scored both goals in their victory at City Stadium.

The Kickers almost took the lead on an own goal in the eighth minute, a back-pass going off the Eagles’ post, but Yomby opened the scoring off a set piece five minutes later. The center back was able to slide his finish under Charlotte goalkeeper Clint Irwin from the top of the penalty area, giving the Kickers the lead at the halftime break.

Charlotte tried to get back on even terms early in the second half, Miguel Ferrer twice shooting over from range, but Yomby notched his second in the 56th minute as he put away Phillipe Davies’ corner kick. The Eagles were able to get back into the game as Jorge Herrera scored in the 73rd minute, but the Kickers were able to hold on to claim a crucial victory.

The Kickers stay at City Stadium for their next outing as they host Antigua Barracuda Friday night at 7 p.m. ET. The Eagles will also face the Barracudas in their next contest, hosting the Caribbean side Saturday night at Charlotte Christian Stadium.

HARRISBURG CITY ISLANDERS 2, LOS ANGELES BLUES 0: Second-half goals by Morgan Langley and Lucky Mkosana gave the Harrisburg City Islanders victory against the Los Angeles Blues at Skyline Sports Complex. The win moved the City Islanders even with the Wilmington Hammerheads on 30 points in the USL PRO standings.

The City Islanders went closest to a goal in the opening half, with J.T. Noone striking a half-volley from a brilliant cross by Jason Pelletier just over the crossbar and the Blues forced to clear off the line from a corner. The Blues didn’t create as much, but Nick Noble was able to snuff out any chances that did present themselves.

Harrisburg took the lead nine minutes into the second half as a ball looped across off a deflection toward Langley just inside the right side of the penalty area. The midfielder hit his shot first time, and drove it into the right corner of the net. Langley then turned provider 13 minutes later as his cross found Mkosana, just brought on as a substitute, for a diving header at the near post that wrapped up the points.

The City Islanders will remain at Skyline Sports Complex as they host Orlando City in their next contest on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. The Blues will continue their trip, visiting the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Tuesday night at Chartiers Valley Stadium.

SUNDAY
DAYTON DUTCH LIONS 3, ANTIGUA BARRACUDAS 1
: The Dayton Dutch Lions took a comfortable victory against an Antigua Barracuda FC side that finished the game with nine men as Mettin Copier and Daniel Holowaty scored second-half goals to lead their side to victory. The win allowed Dayton to move back above the Pittsburgh Riverhounds into ninth place in the USL PRO standings.

The Barracudas took the lead in the 12th minute as a cross into the Dutch Lions’ penalty area came to recent signing Darrelle Russell, and he finished first-time into the back of the net. The Dutch Lions got back on level terms quickly, however, as Nixon Dias headed home from a corner two minutes later. Dias had to be substituted midway through the first half, and his replacement Kyle Knotek was also substituted late in the first half after he was injured by a challenge from Antigua’s Matt Aldred that saw the Englishman sent off and the Barracudas reduced to 10 men in the 38th minute.

The Dutch Lions then took the lead just before the hour, with Mettin Copier volleying home after a corner came to him in the penalty area. The Barracudas were reduced to nine men following the scramble that led to the goal, with George Dublin sent off. Dayton could have added to its lead, Eli Garner shooting wide after rounding the goalkeeper one-on-one, but Daniel Holowaty made no mistake in the 72nd minute to add to the Dutch Lions’ lead.

The Barracudas will move on to face the Richmond Kickers at City Stadium on Friday at 7 p.m. ET, while the Dutch Lions will have a weekend off before they host the Charlotte Eagles at Miami Valley South Stadium on Saturday, July 11 at 7:30 p.m. ET.


   
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