The USL Weekend Recap for 10/14
It was a HUGE week for the USL this past weekend. If you need to find one place to find all the major action and implications from USL Championship to USL League 1, you found it! Let’s start in the American 2nd division with the USL Championship. I am also going to start in the Eastern Conference because the East… they got some beasts.
Honestly, I am starting in the East because they only had 2.5 (that makes sense, right?) games that really impacted anything for the playoffs approaching. Let’s start with the BOSS (Rick Ross voice) of lower division U.S. soccer in Bob Lilley’s Pittsburgh Riverhounds. They keep on drawing out results and refusing to lose with a 1-0 win over St. Louis FC. St. Louis is clinging onto playoff life after this result, they currently sit at 9th with 42 points. Three straight losses for St. Louis… AINT GOOD (sorry Phil Grooms)! St. Louis now has to finish their season on the road versus North Carolina FC who have already locked up the playoffs. The other full game in the East that really impressed me was the Loudon United win over Charleston Battery. Charleston had a chance to jump St. Louis, but it was ruined thanks to Loudon who are now on their third straight win! Charleston still possibly control their own destiny (kinda). They sit at 40 points with two games left. Charleston could likely jump St. Louis but still have Birmingham in front of them, who also have two games left as well. Charleston finish the season with two home games versus Memphis and Bethlehem. Birmingham finish the season with two home games versus New York Red Bulls II and Pittsburgh… so there are a lot of opportunities here for teams and spots. The half a game I was looking at was Louisville City’s 8-3 win Swope Park Rangers. Swope Park went up 3-0 against LouCity after 34 minutes… but they were not going to be embarrassed. But Louisville came back to scored EIGHT unanswered goals. EIGHT?!?! This eight goal performance saw a Magnus Rasmussen brace, two assists from Niall McCabe, and two assists from Luke Spencer. No playoff implications here… just 11 goals, NBD.
Now, we can head over to the Western Conference where there were a lot of impactful games. We can go to California (Siri, play Phantom Planet) where we almost saw a fist fight between Sacramento Republic and Orange County SC. Orange County SC won this matchup and fist fight 3-2 on the road. The game winning goal came from former USMNT defender Michael Orozco who put one away in the 78th minute. This win for OCSC helped them stay in a seed over Sac Rep. We can jump down to the bottom of the West where we have some squads fighting for playoff spots. Reno 1868 FC picked up a big 2-1 win over Wynalda’s Las Vegas Lights. Las Vegas dropped points and are now at 41 points. The still have to go and face New Mexico Untied who sit just above them in the standings. But for them to make the playoffs, they will need some help from New Mexico United and San Antonio FC. Speaking of New Mexico… they did their job (in LVL fan’s eyes) and lost to already eliminated Tulsa Roughnecks. For them to secure their playoff future, they have to go and face Tacoma Defiance as well as Las Vegas. Finally, let’s touch on San Antonio FC. SAFC hasn’t been helping their own cases for the playoffs lately, but they did pick up a win this weekend in a seven goal thriller against Timbers 2. This win was hugely due in part to San Antonio winger Ever Guzman. Guzman went out and scored the first ever hat trick in San Antonio’s history with goals in the 6th, 12th , & 67th minutes. It’ll be an exciting final week in the Championship to see how things shake up with these three teams.
USL League 1 is already in their playoffs and their first ever playoff games in league history were pretty good, I thought we saw impressive performances. Number two seeded Lansing Ignite FC hosted number three seeded Greenville Triumph SC. We had an upset and a big win for Greenville to come out on top 1-0. Greenville came into the playoffs winning 4 of their last 5. Lansing was a little different, winning 3 of their last 5, BUT, only one point in their last two results. But in this one, chances were coming. Both Lansing and Greenville were passing well and got their opportunities to test the keepers. But in the 59th minute we saw the game winning goal come from 20 year old midfielder Chris Bermudez who was WIDE OPEN in the box. Though Greenville didn’t have major control over possession, they attacked well on the counter and made use of their fewer chances. I was very impressed with midfielder Omar Mohamed’s distribution, play, and honestly being everywhere for them. Lansing didn’t play poorly but at the end of the day, couldn’t get the ball in the back of the net. The other playoffs semi-final was fan favorite Forward Madison heading to Texas to face one seed North Texas SC. Forward Madison came into this game HOT but facing North Texas is always a tough challenge with players like Damus looming around. North Texas SC brought down some FC Dallas guys like Edwin Cerillo, John Nelson, Thomas Roberts, and the Man of the Match Ricardo Pepi. Pepi was the Golden Boot leader in League 1 for the longest time before getting the call to MLS. But in his return to North Texas, he scores a brace in his side’s 2-0 win. Pepi’s first goal in the 76th minute probably should have been stopped by a defender of saved. But, his second goal was impressive, holding off a defender and heading home the game sealer. Now, North Texas SC move on to the final where they will host Greenville at Toyota Park on the 19th.
If you haven’t, go and watch some USL. Support your local and lower division soccer. It is important.